The term “legacy” is defined as “the long-lasting impact of particular actions of a person’s life.” When considering this year’s award for “Legacy of Philanthropy,” we couldn’t think of two people who embody this definition more than Jim and Barbara Bronner.
Long-time Steamboat residents Jim and Barbara have made an immeasurable difference in many aspects of the well-being of our valley. Generous contributors of their time, talent and treasure, Jim and Barbara have made a difference through their volunteer work, their leadership of organizations, and the strategic thinking Jim does to make organizations run smoothly. Through their caring, kind and thought-provoking guidance, many great Steamboat programs have taken root and are now thriving. They deeply love Steamboat, compassionately support our youth and constantly thrive for a successful future for our valley.
Jim has been involved with the Boys & Girls Clubs of Northwest Colorado, the Yampa Valley Community Foundation and Strings Music Festival for many years, nearly since the inception of each organization. He has served on the Boys & Girls Club or Northwest Colorado’s board since almost its beginning and has been instrumental in growing this great community asset both financially and strategically. As a Yampa Valley Community Foundation Board of Trustees former Chair and current Emeritus, Jim has given tirelessly of his time for the organization, serving on numerous committees including, at various times, chair of the Donor Engagement Committee, the Nominating Committee and the Building Committee. Through his work on the Strings Music Festival Board, Jim helped guide the organization through tremendous growth, from when they held performances at Storm Meadows Condominiums to the development and creation of Strings’ current home at the music pavilion.
Jim is passionate about basketball and, for many years, has volunteered his time as assistant coach for the Steamboat Springs High School Boys Basketball team. He never misses a game, rides the bus with the team whenever possible and offers lots of encouragement and support to the players and other coaches. This has given him the opportunity to mentor and support our valley’s youth through the coach-athlete relationship and is one of the efforts of which he is most proud.
Barbara joined the Board of the Routt County Council on Aging when she and Jim first moved to town and served in that role for many years. She was instrumental in the effort to ensure that our valley’s seniors had a space to gather after the old community center was torn down as part of the library expansion. This is a legacy that will last for generations to come. Inspired by her work as a geriatric social worker, she helped create educational materials and care-giver support groups in the valley through the Alzheimer’s Association. She chaired the Catamount Ranch & Club Scholarship committee for 10 years and still enjoys volunteering her time on the committee.
When asked what it is that drives them to give back, Jim responds that, “Once you start getting involved, you start to really care about it and you become invested in the work of the organization and in their mission. It wasn’t a conscious decision to give back, other than wanting to truly be a part of this community, rather than just living here.” Barbara adds, “I believe that all people here matter. We are fortunate enough to be able to give back and are just doing our part as members of this community, to support the community.”
Reflecting on their 50+ years in the valley and what they think makes this place so special, Jim and Barbara share, “From the time we moved here when Lincoln Avenue was really the only paved street, a lot has changed in Steamboat. But the quality of the community hasn’t changed. It’s always been the same warm, welcoming place. It’s the beauty, the people and the traditions. Big cities don’t have the traditional small-town parades like Winter Carnival and Fourth of July. There is a generosity of spirit and a spirit of generosity here that you don’t find in big cities or even other resort towns.”
Aside from their own personal involvement and generous contributions to organizations that they support, they are also wonderful ambassadors for the nonprofits that they are involved with and they encourage those around them to become engaged and support whatever it is that they love. They inspire those around them to give generously their time and money. Every organization Jim and Barbara touch benefits from their support, and the organizations become stronger, more sustainable and more strategic because of their efforts.
Jim’s favorite definition of the word “philanthropist” is “someone who creates smiles.” Jim and Barbara have certainly done that for Steamboat and the Yampa Valley in spades.
As stated in one of their nominations, “Our world needs more people like Jim and Barbara, who are willing to take risks, give back, and be there for others. Jim and Barbara make the world a better place.”