Philanthropists of the year honored as community servants, investors
Steamboat Springs — When Jason and Kelly Landers moved to the Yampa Valley 22 years ago, they knew the Steamboat Springs community would be their home for the remainder of their lives.
So they set up shop in Steamboat as a married couple in the way many folks find their way to this Northwest Colorado town — ski bumming. They took full advantage of the recreation and livelihood Steamboat offers like so many people who find themselves here year after year.
But these days, it isn’t so much what the community is giving to them as it is what the Landers are pouring out year after year into the Yampa Valley.
As the owners of Creekside Cafe and Grill — one of the hottest breakfast and lunch spots in town — Jason and Kelly have spent the better part of their married lives here doing what they can to meet the exceeding amounts of gratitude the community has given them.
Sunday night at the Larson Barn, the Creekside owners were honored as the Yampa Valley Community Foundation’s business philanthropists of the year. The Landers accepted the honor alongside the foundation’s youth philanthropist of the year in Steamboat Springs High School graduate Meg O’Connell and the individual philanthropists of the year in Boyd Bass and Barbara Winternitz.
“I first came to Steamboat when I was 12,” Kelly said. “I came over the pass, saw the valley and I knew that’s where I wanted to be. The people here, they’re amazing. They’re friendly, they’re kind, they’re nice and passionate about what they do. To be able to have a business that can give back to that passion is a dream come true.”
The foundation noted the many ways the cafe has given back to the Yampa Valley throughout its many years in operation. Creekside has been active in the Steamboat Springs Elementary School Challenge Fund, donating a percentage of its sales on particular days each year toward local education. The business also has been highly involved with organizations such as the Community Agriculture Alliance, Rotary Club, Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation and Cabaret.
But Jason insists that throughout the two decades and change the couple has served dishes to the Steamboat community in their restaurant on 11th Street, much more has been given back to them, and they simply are trying to repay the favor.
“The community has supported us in our endeavors with the restaurant,” Jason said. “It wouldn’t be right for us to not reinvest. We don’t even feel like we are reinvesting, really. We feel like we are paying in.”
O’Connell — a University of Colorado-bound graduate of Steamboat Springs High School — was honored as the youth philanthropist of the year for her many roles as an active 18-year-old. O’Connell is the high school representative on the Board of Directors of Advocates Building Peaceful Communities, fundraising and raising awareness for youths on issues such as dating, sexual violence and harassment prevention.
She is an Interact Club member, a branch of Rotary that heavily invests in community service, as well as a National Honor Society member. O’Connell has touched the lives of many Horizons Specialized Services clients, baking and decorating birthday cakes for those with disabilities.
“It’s a good feeling to know people notice you without having to put your name and picture on the front of something,” O’Connell said to the barn packed with past and present honored philanthropists. “That in itself is so humbling, to think there are people out there who honor people doing good things.”
As the 2014 individual philanthropist honorees, Bass and Winternitz have been big sources of support in Steamboat Adaptive Recreational Sports and the many camps the organization puts on year after year.
They have opened their doors to other organizations, providing housing for the Steamboat Symphony Orchestra conductor, and Winternitz has served as co-chair of the popular local version of Dancing with the Stars.
“The Yampa Valley Community Foundation is such an important and vital part of our community,” Winternitz said. “We feel so honored to be able to support their efforts.”
The foundation has honored philanthropists for 18 years now and has hosted the annual celebration at the Larson Barn for five years running.
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