Giving Hearts

JACK DYSART AND CAROLE MILLIGAN contribute to the health and wellbeing of the community through donations of time, expertise and money. Their support of local non-profits allows the organizations to push beyond boundaries to provide truly extraordinary experiences in the Yampa Valley. 

1. Why do you think it’s important to invest—philanthropically (whether financially, through skills or through volunteering)—in the community you live in? 

JACK: Giving back to the community improves the quality of life for all of us, and knowing that, it gives satisfaction to the donor. 

CAROLE: The healthier our community is the better life is for all of us. Non-profits, by and large, fill in gaps in services or in opportunities for our community. 

2. How do you identify the causes you want to support? Do you look at community need, personal interest or both? 

JACK: Both. There are well over 100 nonprofit organizations in Routt County. I spend more personal time in my interest areas, especially arts and culture, and the Autism Program. During the past two COVID years I increased donations preferentially to several organizations that provide needed health and human services. My education focused on economics and business administration, so I often find that I can contribute my time best in the areas of Governance and Financial Management. For ten years I produced all of the professional operas here in Steamboat, raising the funds and managing the administration. In 2004 and 2010 I co-chaired the city’s Tax Policy Advisory Board. 

CAROLE: For the areas that I support with work as well as money, I often choose opportunities that align with my strongest capacities. For instance, I have worked with and chaired the hospital Ethics Committee and worked closely with the hospice program for many years. I have occasionally been involved in organizations in self-defense because Jack is involved . . . often that has grown into my own commitment. I have also, on occasion, liked the mission of a particular organization and wanted to get to know more people who felt the same way. For donating money it has always been a mix of community need and my personal interest. 

3. Because Routt County has a relatively small population, do you think the impact of philanthropic support is more visible? 

JACK: Definitely yes; think of the three “T’s”. There are a lot of people here giving their Time, Talent, and Treasure to support so many local nonprofits. Their efforts are widely recognized and appreciated in the community. 

CAROLE: All communities, big or small, have similar problems though the scale may be different, but I think it is easier to see an impact within a smaller population because often an organization is the only one addressing a particular issue. For me, it feels more personal. 

4. What would you say to people thinking about investing in Routt County? 

JACK: More than just offering financial support, get personally 

involved as much as you can. There is a great deal of satisfaction in working with others to help a nonprofit accomplish its mission. Also consider volunteering on a City or County committee. Helping to gather community input and recommend priorities and policies will improve government performance and transparency. 

CAROLE: I have found the greatest satisfaction from being personally involved in an organization or project, though there are long term causes that I support as part of my general philosophy about the community good. 

5. Where did you learn the importance of philanthropy? 

JACK: My nature has always been service oriented. I was involved in student government in high school and college and served in the Navy Reserve for 40 years and the USAF Auxiliary (Civil Air Patrol) for 18 years. I enjoy working with others to make improvements and find solutions to problems. 

CAROLE: I went into medicine as part of a belief that it was a way to be of service. Since then, there have been ample opportunities for philanthropy. 

6. Do you give to general operating or specific programs and why? 

JACK: Mostly we let nonprofits decide where funds are most needed. We do occasionally respond to a request to support a specific project. 

CAROLE: I have always given preferentially to general operating funds, trying to give organizations the flexibility to use their resources as they see best. They are much closer to the needs than I am. I have also given to specific programs or projects that I have thought worthwhile. 

7. Why do you think the arts are important for rural communities? 

JACK: Arts provide enrichment and education and are especially important in rural areas. Arts provide awareness and appreciation for the greater world and stimulate creative thinking. This is especially important for our youth who might otherwise be focused only on STEM subjects and recreation. 

CAROLE: I also believe that the more exposure one has to the arts, and activities that are not part of the community culture, provides opportunities for young people to realize that there is a much more diverse world in which they can participate. In Steamboat that means tennis, not only winter sports, and opera, not only popular music. 

8. What do you think some of the biggest issues facing Routt County are? How can people help? 

JACK: The high cost of living here is a fact of life that will not go away. The development of more affordable housing will help a lot as housing is the single largest expense for most people. Drug and alcohol abuse are also problems, and generally more so in rural and harsh climate areas where people feel isolated. 

CAROLE: Because of the high cost of housing, utilities, and food in a rural area, many people struggle with housing and food security. I support programs that provide services widely in the community such as Lift Up, the United Way, and the Yampa Valley Community Foundation. 

9. What makes Routt County special to you? 

JACK: The exceptional mix of recreation, arts, culture, the appreciation for our history and preservation of open spaces infectiously permeates our society. One can feel the energy in the wide variety of community events that originate here. 

CAROLE: I love the mix of recreational, artistic, and cultural options that have been developed in this county, and the fact that one can make a difference in a myriad of ways.AWA