Sun Valley's Most Influential Leaders
(page 8 of 8)
Making a Difference
A Chat with Four Local Non-Profit Leaders
BY KATHLEEN KRISTENSON
PHOTOGRAPHY BY DEV KHALSA
Many people strive to do good in life, but few dedicate their lives to such endeavors. These unique individuals truly embrace Gandhi's famous words, “Be the change you wish to see in the world.” We are blessed to have quite a few such people locally. People who identify needs in our community and have stepped up to provide solutions. Passionate about these causes, they give their valuable time, talents and resources, and inspire others to do the same. Their leadership guides the rest of us, making our combined philanthropic efforts more effective. Let me introduce you to four such inspirational local leaders.
Why and when did you found—or help found—the non-profit?
Morley Golden: The Wood River Foundation, the non-profit that created WOW-students, was founded in 2010. We believe that if each individual recognized that they have the ability to make a difference, a stronger and more vibrant community would emerge.
Who does your non-profit serve?
Harry Weekes: The Sage School is for teenagers or, a bit more broadly, adolescents. It also serves adolescence; a critical and sensitive time in our development. The school is for students and families who want to engage deeply in understanding the importance of place, who want to learn through direct experience and exposure to human ecology, and who want to be active participants in the world.
What has been the biggest challenge?
Morley Golden: This is a dynamic project since it is the only one of its kind in the U.S. Our biggest challenge changes daily.
Why is philanthropy so important for the community?
Brooke Bonner: To make a sweeping generalization, because we can’t count on government or business or other large-scale systems to take care of the fabric of our society and communities. Much of what non-profits give to the world are things that we value but that fall through the cracks without organized groups of compassionate individuals dedicated to making sure these things are taken care of. This isn’t to say that there aren’t plenty of businesses who do good things for the world, or government programs that aren’t necessary, but without groups whose primary mission and purpose it is to address the things that fall through the cracks, our community would look a lot different and would not be the place we are proud to call home.
What has been your most rewarding or proudest moment?
Ryan Redman: Every time I hear my friends in our programs describe how their personal practice is empowering them to become caring and compassionate human beings, my heart completely melts in gratitude.
Who is your hero or role model?
Harry Weekes: I have balked at this question since it was first asked me in elementary school. The obvious ones come to mind: My wife because of her total awesomeness; My mother because of her general indefatigableness; My father for following a kind of internal compass that is hard to articulate; Dates Fryberger for, amongst other things, sculpting ice with a chainsaw; Jim Henson for creating the Muppets; William Shatner; J.R.R. Tolkien; and Bilbo Baggins. There are just a lot of people who inspire me in the little and big ways they engage the world.
Who is the unsung hero of your non-profit?
Brooke Bonner: Kennel staff at the Animal Shelter. They not only provide the basics of daily care for all the animals at the Shelter, but they truly love the animals and pay special attention to each one’s health and happiness.
What other non-profits do you look up to?
Ryan Redman: In a WOW-students meeting several years ago, Morley Golden filled the room with representatives from most of the social-profits in the Wood River Valley. During this meeting, I found my neck getting sore as I looked up to the awe-inspiring work being done by so many in our community. It is such an honor to be learning from so many incredible people who have selflessly dedicated their lives to building organizations that make the world a better place.
Which funny fundraiser would you rather do: a swimsuit calendar, a fashion show or a bungee-jumping marathon?
Brooke Bonner: You’re kidding, right? Bungee jumping, obviously!
Ryan Redman: Hmmm ... Since I'm terrified of heights, and my body is speckled in moles, and most clothes are too short for me, I don't think any of the options above would be successful in attracting new partners to our work!
Harry Weekes: Bungee jumping, mostly because at some point someone in this would have to throw up, and that just has to be weird in bungee jumping. Sorry for that one.