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Limelight Hotel Employees, Guests Cast Net of Kindness
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Friday, January 28, 2022
 

STORY AND PHOTOS BY KAREN BOSSICK

Six Wood River Valley nonprofits can thank the generosity of Limelight Hotel employees—and their guests—for a little extra spending money to help meet the needs of valley residents.

Ketchum’s Limelight Hotel on Thursday gifted the nonprofits with $25,000 raised through the Limelight Ketchum Community Fund. The fund is financed by contributions from the Limelight Hotel Ketchum’s operations, by the hotel’s 65 employees through an optional paycheck deduction and by guests who choose to make a dollar-per-night donation knowing that it will benefit nonprofits in an area that they vacation.

“At least 50 percent of our guests choose to make the dollar-a-night donations,” said Tim Johnson, director of sales for the hotel. “They say if it benefits nonprofits, we’re happy to do that.”

The hotel’s board of directors, made up of employees, selected this year’s grantees.

Ketchum’s Limelight Hotel, which just last month celebrated its fifth anniversary, has given nearly $150,000 to nonprofits in past five years. It has given out as much as $35,000 some years; fewer  reservations due to the pandemic reduced this year’s amount.

In addition, the hotel allows employees two paid days each year to volunteer in the community. Some have served mimosas for Mother’s and Father’s Day celebrations at the Senior Connection. Others have helped clear trails for the Sawtooth Society. Still others have volunteered at such organizations as the animal shelter.

“We give each employee the ability to choose what they want to do. We don’t care where they volunteer. We just ask that they do something,” said Johnson.

The hotel’s employees saluted this year’s recipients at a buffet luncheon featuring salmon and baked chicken and giant spears of asparagus:

FLOURISH FOUNDATION

The Flourish Foundation goes into 40 classrooms every week throughout the Wood River Valley and Carey to teach students how to cultivate healthy habits of mind that support well-being. Instructors explore secular meditation with the youngers and teach strategies for cultivating inner resilience.

Founder Ryan Redman said that many kids initially think it’s weird talking about kindness, but he and his teachers are often rewarded when they least expect it.

Case in point: One boy for whom there seemed no hope attended a weekly meditation gathering for the community over Christmas Break.

“He’s now a senior in college and he said the most important thing he learned in school was how to manage his emotions  and cultivate well-being from the inside out,” said Redman.

IDAHO ASSOCIATION FOR THE EDUCATION OF  YOUNG CHILDREN

Beth Oppenheimer said the organization offers free Ready! For Kindergarten workshops for parents to suggest ways of reading ad playing with children to foster socio-emotional, pre-literacy and pre-math skills before kindergarten.

KETCHUM COMMUNITY CURBSIDE DINNERS

Helen Morgus told Limelight Hotel employees that the service was meeting not just a need for food but the need to serve, as so many community members want to know how they can help.

Currently, she said 45 volunteers, including a youth group, assist with preparing and distributing the meals from 5 to 6 p.m. every Wednesday night outside St. Thomas Episcopal Church on Sun Valley Road. Others who occasionally join in the effort include the Idaho Food Bank, Ketchum Grill, Wise Guy Pizza, Hangar Bread and Sun Valley Resort’s Village Station.

The group hands out more than 80 dinners per week, and arranged a few sit-down meals outside St. Thomas Episcopal Church last summer.

On occasions, hungry people have even appeared at the back door of the church having smelled the cooking gone on inside. They were fed, of course.

“This is Jesus with the woman at the well, a stranger in need,” she said.

THE SENIOR CONNECTION

The Meals on Wheels program, which the Limelight’s $4,000 donation will fund, started in 1977 so it’s 45 years old, said The Connection’s executive director Teresa Beahen Lipman. It not just provides seniors with a hot meal each day but it offers them a safety check and a friendly face.

She told of one woman who was referred to the Senior Connection after she noticed the woman had been losing weight. The woman said she often skipped meals because it took too much energy to cook for one person after her husband died.

“Now she says Meals on Wheels is the best part of her day,” said Lipman.

GIRLS ON THE RUN

Last fall Girls on the Run provided 70-plus girls with a program designed to help self-esteem and leadership culminating in a 5K fun run.

“Our goal is to create a world where every girl knows she is full of potential…These are girls who will change the world,” said Director Danika Severe.

BLAINE COUNTY CHARITABLE FOUNDATION

The foundation was founded in 2020 to help people who lost income and employment because of the pandemic. It has continued to help people affected by the pandemic, as well as others who have needed help paying utility bills and avoiding eviction.

The BCCF provided $262,000 to 192 households in 2020 and $190,000 to 177 households in 2021.

“Half of the community is struggling to pay bills,” said Director Mary Fauth. “COVID really exposed the needs out there.”

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