Man in spirit of giving " to tune of $1.5 million
December 24, 2005
“It’s the motivation of the giver that blows me away,” said Kris Marsh, president and CEO of the Aspen Valley Medical Foundation. “He’s such a humble man, he hasn’t given it to name anything or attach it to a program or service, he doesn’t want recognition.”
The man she was speaking of is Dick Butera, who has given $1.5 million to the Aspen Valley Medical Foundation over the past three years.
And she was right about his philosophy. He didn’t even want his picture taken for the paper, didn’t even really want an article ” except that he thought it might help inspire other people to donate as well.
Butera also has a program in the valley where gives 10 teachers a year $10,000 each. A few years ago he started the same thing up with hospital workers, as well.
“The fact that I made more money than I need means that I get to feel benevolence,” Butera said. “It’s not heroic for me to make myself feel good; you should be writing about the people who receive the checks, they’re the heroes.”
Marsh said that people have already started to copy his ideas, and indeed, Butera commented that there are people in every town who could be doing this.
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“Because of this role model, I just met with a guy today who is going to be giving five gifts of $7,500 apiece to five professional addiction counselors in the county, and he’s using the model of Dick. He did it because it’s a wonderful idea and the counselors don’t get the recognition they deserve,” Marsh said.
The Aspen Valley Medical Foundation supports Aspen Valley Hospital and 30 or so health and human-services agencies in the valley, including the Aspen Youth Center, LIFT-UP, Pitkin County Seniors, Aspen Counseling Center, and others. The Aspen Valley Hospital received more than $800,000 for new medical equipment and medical programs. As well, $75,000 was given in scholarships for health care professionals.
“Dick came to our annual meeting two years ago, and when it was over he came up and said I have to be part of this, so he joined the board,” Marsh said. “At the end of the next year he came to me and said he had this stock he was thinking of giving to some charitable organization, and he decided to give some major portion of it to the Medical Foundation. I didn’t solicit him. It his idea. He brought that forward as a gift.
“I was just totally amazed, it was so magnificent. People can give gifts that are restricted for the hospital or for scholarships. But he gave it unrestricted and said he felt the board could decide where the greatest need was. It’s been that way ever since.”
Dick Butera is a real estate developer who moved to Aspen in 1982. He owns the Aspen Club, started channel 16, and he restored the Jerome when it was condemned. “Now I’m a dad,” he said. “It’s pretty fun at my age.”
Joel Stonington’s e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org