Yampa Valley Community Foundation names its philanthropists of the year
Steamboat Springs — John Kerst could sense the excitement in the air Sunday as more than 100 people shuffled into the Larson Barn.
Live music echoed in the picturesque property just south of Steamboat Springs as guests mingled over cocktails and appetizers.
The chairman of the Yampa Valley Community Foundation’s board of directors each year has the honor of introducing to the crowd a small group of community members whose volunteerism and selflessness stand out.
“And we’ve got a great group of winners this year,” he said as people started taking their seats.
Rod and Vicky Hanna are proof that philanthropists in the Yampa Valley are remembered for much more than writing large checks.
Rod, an accomplished photographer, has donated his time and his breathtaking images to worthy causes while also serving on the boards of multiple nonprofits.
Vicky has been praised for her years of involvement with the growing Boys & Girls Club of Northwest Colorado and the time she spends with the Sunshine Kids.
Because of their decades of volunteerism and community service, the Hannas on Sunday were named the Yampa Valley Community Foundation’s Philanthropists of the Year.
“It’s humbling to join the group of people who have received this award because they have done so much for this community,” Rod Hanna said as more than 100 community leaders and fellow philanthropists mingled outside the barn before the award ceremony.
He found out he and his wife were winning the major award Sunday in a way only an accomplished photographer could.
Hanna, who for years has offered his pictures to adorn the Philanthropist of the Year plaques, recently was asked if he’d make one for himself this year.
“It was a complete surprise,” he said.
When it was announced the Hanna’s were receiving the award this year, the Community Foundation ticked off a long list of the couple’s accomplishments.
Rod Hanna initiated the successful $400,000 Rotary Yampa River Boardwalk Centennial Project, while Vicky Hanna’s work with groups like the Boys & Girls Club ensures juvenile delinquency is reduced in the community.
But they also are known for simpler acts of kindness, like waving at strangers on local county roads.
“They’re wonderful people who care,” Kerst said. “They care about the community. They care about the people. They just care.”
In their speeches, the couple said they hope they can continue to inspire the community to volunteer their time to worthy causes, just as they have.
The Community Foundation also paid tribute to their 2013 business philanthropist and youth philanthropist.
Yampa Valley Bank took the business title for its community involvement.
The local bank’s officers, directors and staff serve nearly 30 nonprofits in the community.
“As a community bank, we love this valley and the people of this valley,” said PJ Wharton, the bank’s president and CEO.
The bank’s employees are given paid time off to volunteer.
Like the bank’s employees, this year’s youth philanthropist has spent much of her time volunteering.
Steamboat Springs High School senior Kayla Guettich accepted the youth award before she prepared to leave to volunteer this summer in Africa.
“It means a lot to me because I’m a teen, and this shows the community values and honors teens,” Guettich said. “I’ve always had a strong desire to help.”
Guettich is the vice president of the Rotary’s Interact program, an executive committee member with the Grand Futures Prevention Coaliton’s Teen Council, a mentor with Partners in Routt County and the founder of a girl’s social group.
Recently, she also has played a pivotal role in the growth of It Takes Courage, a nonprofit dedicated to preventing bullying in area schools.
“It feels good to work so hard and be recognized for it,” she said at Sunday’s award ceremony.
To reach Scott Franz, call 970-871-4210 or email scottfranz@SteamboatToday.com
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