Kiwanis Club’s community service in Steamboat Springs ends after 68 years
Looking for an ornament?
Some of the Kiwanis Club's Christmas ornaments are still available. Anyone wishing to find a particular year's ornament may contact Clair Erickson at 970-846-7131 to find out if it is in the club's inventory.
Steamboat Springs — Families, who cherish a holiday tree ornament they bought from the Steamboat Springs Kiwanis Club with an image depicting the More Barn or more than 30 other images, may want to pack the keepsake away with special care when the holidays are over.
For 32 years, the club’s main fundraiser was the annual sale of its iconic Christmas ornaments, which over the years raised $100,000 to help the more vulnerable members of the community. The local Kiwanis Club stopped selling the ornaments in 2014, and now, the club itself is giving up its charter and disbanding.
In recent years, membership had dwindled to just a half a dozen people who regularly attended meetings.
“Sadly, after more than 68 years of service the club is closing its doors,” club member Linda D’Aquila wrote in an e-mail. “Slowly but surely changes in lifestyles (has) resulted in decreased membership and last month we voted to relinquish our charter.”
D’Aquila said the club awarded over 50 scholarships to local youth over the years.
“We have ensured the scholarships will continue to be awarded for the next 10 or more years,” D’Aquila said.
As recently as October 2008, former club president Ben Russell and longtime Kiwanis board member and club president Bud Romberg presented a $5,000 check to Young Tracks Preschool and Childcare Center to spend on equipment for youngsters, including two new $1,400 strollers, each capable of seating six toddlers.
Romberg said Tuesday that the club had been struggling to attract younger members who have developed new and different ways of socializing.
“When I started in the club in 1970, before Rotary ever started here, Kiwanis was a big deal,” Romberg said. “Monday night at the El Rancho, it was a guy’s night out (Benita Bristol would become the first woman to join the local Kiwanis Club). We just have been getting too much gray hair for too long. We needed younger people, and they didn’t seem to be interested or have the time to join us.”
Romberg observed that 1970, the year he first joined the Kiwanis Club, was also a pivotal year in the history of Steamboat.
“1970 was the year that (Dallas aerospace company) LTV bought the (Steamboat Ski Area),” he recalled. “When LTV bought the hill, it brought in money, and it brought in people.”
Kiwanis sponsored Cub Scout Pack 194 as well as Young Tracks, Romberg said, and for many years, club members cleaned eight miles of U.S. Highway 40 from the top of Rabbit Ears Pass all the way down to the bottom. Each year, the club, in conjunction with the U.S. Forest Service, also cleaned up at Fish Creek Falls.
“There is no way to estimate the value of the club’s thousands of volunteer hours in community service,” Romberg said. ”We have also focused on youth and senior citizens by providing transportation to the grocery store, post office and banks. In the past, we even provided annual dinners and boat rides for seniors on Steamboat Lake.”
“The Kiwanis Club of Steamboat Springs extends its gratitude to the Steamboat Springs community for supporting our efforts over the years,” D’Aquila wrote. “We enjoyed every volunteer effort, every service project and every event. We believe that Steamboat Springs is a better place for our having been here.”
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