Local nonprofits benefit from $500K foundation grant

Win and Elaine Dermody
John F. Russell

STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — Win Dermody first met David Berolzheimer at an Army Reserve meeting in 1958, where they struck up a friendship that would span 61 years and grow to include partners, children and grandchildren. When Dermody retired to Steamboat Springs with his wife, Elaine, Berolzheimer and his sweetheart of 45 years, Bonnie Starr, followed suit and purchased a condo, where they lived for several months out of each year.

Berolzheimer died last spring, and one year later, Starr visited the Dermodys in Steamboat. When she left, she handed Win an envelope, telling him that it was something that Berolzheimer wanted him and Elaine to have.

“When we opened it, we were shocked to learn that David had established the David Berolzheimer Foundation and had left $500,000 to donate to five local nonprofits of our choosing — what an incredible gift,” Win said.

In a town with so many admirable nonprofits, the couple soon realized that choosing five would be difficult.

“We first discussed which nonprofits David had been involved with, and then we each made a list of organizations to consider,” Elaine said. “Fortunately, we listed many of the same ones, but narrowing the list down was difficult.”

They eventually settled on six and asked each organization to apply for a grant from the David Berolzheimer Foundation, as they would for any other grant. Stipulations were made that the grants were to go into an endowment fund to grow over time and contribute to the stability of the organization.

Their chosen organizations are as follows:

  • Steamboat Art Museum — $100,000 to be added to the museum’s endowment fund.
  • Steamboat Creates (formerly known as the Steamboat Springs Arts Council) — $100,000 to establish an additional endowment fund.
  • Court Sports 4 Life Foundation — $100,000 to build a new multi-use pickleball center.
  • Rocky Mountain Youth Corps — $100,000 to be added to an endowment fund previously established by the Dermodys’ children in honor of their parents, recognizing their many years of volunteering with the U.S. Forest Service. Funds will be used primarily to enable future joint projects with the Youth Corps and Friends of Wilderness, an organization founded by Elaine.
  • Friends of Wilderness — $60,000 added to the organization’s endowment fund.
  • National Wilderness Stewardship Alliance — $40,000 for an endowment fund to help establish new wilderness volunteer organizations throughout the U.S. Elaine was one of the founders of this organization.

Each nonprofit represents something that Berolzheimer and the Dermodys are passionate about, whether that be the arts, the outdoors or sports.

The Dermodys worked with the Yampa Valley Community Foundation, which manages all but one of the endowment funds, on the grant opportunity.

“This extraordinary gift from David and the granting decisions made by Win and Elaine will have a lasting impact on our community in the near future and for generations to come,” said Traci Hiatt, donor engagement manager for the Community Foundation. “These endowed gifts are now a source of sustained funding for the organizations in perpetuity.”

Betse Grassby, executive director of Steamboat Art Museum, said the money will contribute to the sustainability of the museum.

“Donations like this really build on themselves and contribute to our longevity,” she said. “This one is especially meaningful because I had known David for about 20 years through his work in the arts, and Win and Elaine were both part of the early days of founding the Steamboat Art Museum. Knowing that this gift came from them was very special.”

Another benefactor, Friends of Wilderness, was founded by Elaine. Dan Schaffrick, president of the board, said the organization was already beholden to Win and Elaine, even before the large donation.

“The fact that this organization exists is because of Elaine’s foresight and her anticipating the need for an organization like this,” he said. “Such a generous gift for a nonprofit our size is overwhelming. It creates a new challenge for us to carry that legacy on.”

Win and Elaine both describe the process of choosing the beneficiaries of the grant as a “labor of love.”

“It was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity,” Win said. “Elaine and I were so honored that he entrusted us with this. David was an outstanding human being, and I guess he was impressed by how Elaine and I live our lives, being a good example and walking the walk. I like to think that’s a good character trait to emulate.”

Sophie Dingle is a contributing writer for Steamboat Pilot & Today.

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