Philanthropy Day recognizes those who share the wealth |

Philanthropy Day recognizes those who share the wealth

Deb Edwards

SUMMIT COUNTY – For Allison Aichinger, a little recognition went a long way.She and her parents cherished the stone plaque The Summit Foundation gave her when she was 17, when she was awarded for being an outstanding youth in 1997. It reminded her to feel good about herself and inspired her to continue her volunteer efforts.The Summit Foundation began honoring philanthropists and other people who contribute to the community through Philanthropy Day, which takes place annually on the Friday before Thanksgiving. The nonprofit instituted the Philanthropy Day program in 1991 and, in 1995, it added an outstanding youth category.”It was so encouraging to be recognized by people I respected and by a very reputable organization,” Aichinger said. “Initially, it’s important – especially for teenagers – to be recognized until they can get past that transition time in life where they start volunteering for its intrinsic value (rather than recognition).”Aichinger began volunteering in her junior year at Summit High School, contributing to the drug and alcohol awareness program and peer counseling. She also did an internship at The Summit Foundation.”It was another way to be connected in the county because it’s such a seasonal, resort-minded area,” she said. “When people come in, they take and take and then they leave. This was a way to feel like I was making a contribution to the community. It helped me network, and it’s just a good way to feel good about yourself.”Aichinger, a graduate of Colorado State University in Fort Collins, continues to volunteer with animal assisted therapy programs and a local health-related magazine.

Honoring outstanding contributionsThe Summit Foundation recognizes nine categories of excellence in community efforts. They are: philanthropist, volunteer, board member, professional in a nonprofit, educator, youth, citizen and community organization.”We wanted to more formally recognize the good work in our community,” said Deb Edwards, executive director of The Summit Foundation. “A lot of times, some of that work goes unnoticed, so we were hoping to recognize some of the unsung heroes who give time and money. We also wanted to raise awareness of the importance of nonprofit work in the community.”Most people receive nominations because of their long-term commitment and passion for volunteering or financially supporting nonprofits, Edwards said.Anne Stonington was the first philanthropist The Summit Foundation honored in 1991. She helped start the Breckenridge Music Institute and has supported The Summit Foundation, Father Dyer Methodist Church and cystic fibrosis foundations.”They are all things that are very dear to my heart,” Stonington said. “I don’t do it for the recognition. I love Breckenridge, and what it has done for me has been remarkable. I want to support the culture and the arts and scholarships and everything that makes it such a wonderful community.”Last year, Nancy and Bob Follett earned outstanding philanthropist. They support theater, music, hospice, the Senior Center and Keystone Science School.

“To see things evolve and get better gives us satisfaction,” Nancy Follett said. “I think Summit County is one of the few places that really supports the (art) culture. After living here for 10 years, we feel a community equally here as we did living in Oak Park (Ill.,) – which was a very philanthropic community – for 40 years. This is just a phenomenal area. I just think there are a lot of people we need to get nominated.”Spirit of the SummitThe review committee also occasionally gives out a special Spirit of the Summit Award.John Novotny first received the award in 1999.”Nothing got him down,” Edwards said. “He always overcame adversity. We felt that he embodied what it is that’s so special in Summit County in terms of giving back to the community despite adversity.”In 2000, the Ebert-Santos family won the award for Carlos Ebert-Santos’ optimism after his football injury. Max and Edna Dercum and Olav Pedersen also won Spirit of the Summit recognition for their contributions to the community, especially in the way of recreation.

Get involved through nomination or adding supportThe Summit Foundation distributes nomination criteria annually. It usually receives three to 10 nominations for each category, Edwards said.On Philanthropy Day, it hosts a reception to award plaques.Mi Zuppa in Breckenridge and Frisco participate by donating proceeds from lunchtime soup sales to The Summit Foundation. Other organizations, such as Colorado Mountain Express, have also participated. For example, Colorado Mountain Express has sponsored weekend food and school supply drives at local grocery stores.Businesses or individuals who want to become more involved in Philanthropy Day can call The Summit Foundation at (970) 453-5970.Kimberly Nicoletti can be reached at (970) 668-3998, ext. 245, or at

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