Tony Seaver was having lunch with a friend a few years ago and they started talking about what it means to be a “local.” His friend came up with something so simple that has resonated with Tony and Emily since that date, and has been a driving force behind how they have chosen to live in this community. It had nothing to do with living here a certain number of years, or having multi-generational history, or being born here. “In my view,” Tony’s friend said, “if a person puts more into the community than they take out, then they are a local.” By that benchmark, Tony and Emily Seaver are, without a doubt, certified “locals.”
Tony and Emily are both originally from the East Coast and first came to Steamboat Springs in the 70’s for a skiing trip. Their first impression was that everyone was friendly and the snow was good. They spent time exploring other western ski resorts but every time they came back to Steamboat, the people were friendlier, the snow was better, and there was so much to enjoy – Strings, rodeo, hiking in the wilderness. Like most who discover the Yampa Valley, the biggest problem for them was that there is so much to do and just not enough time.
When they decided to move to Steamboat full-time, they were a little worried about being new to a town where they didn’t know anyone, and had no history or family. But, they were immediately welcomed with the small town hospitality that Steamboat is renowned for. They found that it was easy to get involved in a lot of things quickly. Over their years in the valley, they have continued to be involved in many organizations and programs, investing their time, energy and money. Most of the time, they do so very quietly and without fanfare.
“From our perspective, it’s pretty simple,” says Emily. “So many organizations are doing so many good things for the community. It’s important to support the organizations and the people who need help. Without our local nonprofits, our community as we know it wouldn’t exist. They create the spirit of our valley and provide critical services for the people who live here. We have a huge number of nonprofits for a regional mountain community, because they are filling needs that would not otherwise be filled.”
Emily and Tony are passionate and generous with both their dollars and their time, providing generous support across a broad range of organizations and causes. It seems that they are everywhere in the community, being actively involved as volunteers with their time.
Emily is particularly proud of her work with the Yampa River Botanic Park, which is celebrating its 25th anniversary this year. She actually started volunteering before the park officially opened and has served on the board as president, vice president and secretary, as well as being chair of the Horticulture Committee. All this in addition to weekly hours pulling weeds and helping around the garden wherever she is needed. According to Audrey Enever, Botanic Park founder: “When Bob and I decided we needed to step back, we were worried about what that would mean for the future of the Yampa River Botanic Park. Emily stepped up, stepped in and held it together, and continues to do so. Her energy and passion for the Park have made it what it is today. I am personally so grateful for her efforts, and the legacy of her work at the Park will endure for years to come.”
Tony and Emily both volunteer with Friends of Wilderness, an organization that they have been involved with since 2000. Tony served as president of the organization from 2012 to 2015. His is proud to have volunteered over the course of about 10 years toward the creation and early years of the Yampa Valley Housing Authority, first as a member of the City/County Affordable Housing Working Group, then as a board member and vice president.
To say Tony and Emily’s work will have a lasting legacy in the Yampa Valley is an understatement.
Reflecting on what it is that makes Steamboat Springs and the Yampa Valley so special, Tony says, “I’ve thought about it a lot. Part of it is the pioneer spirit and ethic. You invest in social capital and you help your neighbor. It’s a very old concept, but one that has been lost in most communities. Paying it forward and investing in social capital is an idea that is still very much alive in the Yampa Valley. The other thing that sharpens this is what I call our ‘splendid isolation.’ As a community, if we see a need or something we would really like to have, we are going to find a way to do it. It is inspiring to get involved in a community with this kind of spirit, where we can have an impact, create change, and see the impact of the collective efforts of many toward a shared vision.”
Congratulations to Tony and Emily Seaver, 2022 Legacy of Philanthropy honorees.