A towering vision: Steamboat couple builds home as fundraising tool for nonprofits
August 12, 2016
Steamboat Springs — The tower that crowns the roof of Guido and Naoko Costantini's new home offers 360-degree views of Steamboat Springs, and the couple hopes those sweeping vistas inspire people to give philanthropically.
Guido Costantini has a vision for Steamboat to become even more than Ski Town USA or Bike Town USA — both impressive monikers, for sure, but ultimately, he'd like to see Steamboat earn a broader reputation as a community of generous givers.
"You look out and see how blessed we are in Steamboat, and you think about what you want to give back to the community," Guido said while standing on the tower's balcony. "As human beings, the ability to understand that we can make a difference is empowering, but the chance to put that into practice is life changing."
The Costantinis have embarked upon a new fundraising concept they'll be introducing to the Steamboat community through a series of events that will highlight and support three local charities — Selah, Yampa Valley Autism Program and Come Let's Dance.
"Our founding principle is to facilitate a relationship between a donor and a nonprofit," Guido explained. "Nonprofits have to work hard to reach and bring in the money to operate, and it leaves less time for the group's principal motivation. Sixty percent of their time is spent raising funds rather than working on programs."
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It's the couple’s goal for their home, La Torreta, named in honor of the home's signature tower, to become the prime place where nonprofits and donors connect.
"When we started building our house, we started thinking about how to have people here and how we can help introduce charities to great philanthropists in town who have the means to help them," Guido said.
The events La Torreta will host are not typical to Steamboat, Guido said. The cost to participate is $1,000 per person, and every penny will go directly to the evening's nonprofit beneficiary. Guido and Naoko will pay all costs associated with a night of fine wines, musical performances and mouth-watering bites prepared by the area's top chefs.
"Would it not be wonderful for Steamboat to become a destination for Colorado philanthropists wanting to come together under one roof to say, 'today, we are united as one in support of a meaningful cause,'" Guido said. "We'll be bringing in top speakers and musicians that people will be excited about, and we'll be opening up our cellar and our Scotch bar, bringing out some of the world's finest wines and spirits."
"We are referring to these evenings as exquisite," said Melinda Clark, CEO of Selah, the beneficiary of the second event planned at La Toretta, which will be held in January.
"Having Guido already as a partner is such a special gift to us," Clark said. Being part of this "was not only a vote of confidence, but it will allow us to move beyond small fundraisers. It closes the budget gap."
Clark said the money raised through the event has the potential to allow Selah, a nonprofit that offers pre- and post-pregnancy support, to bring on new staff, which, in turn, helps support the group's mission of investing in healthy bodies, healthy relationships and healthy futures.
"We've grown beyond our expectations, and this event will allow us to connect with new faces, new donors and new hearts for our mission in a way that genuinely invests in the health of our youth and our families," Clark said.
Game-changer for nonprofits
It is the Costantinis' goal to attract 50 to 100 people to each event, which would raise $50,000 to $100,000 for each of the nonprofits.
And that amount of money — raised at one time with no expense to the nonprofit — would be a difference-maker.
"As a nonprofit, we need to be fundraising, and we're always looking for someone like Guido," said Henry Howard, finance director of Come Let's Dance, a Steamboat-based community development organization that has been working in and around Kampala, Uganda since 2006. "But to have a venue like this and not be worried about expenses and have the opportunity to connect with people is different. In Uganda, $50,000 can fund an entire project. This will allow us to launch programs, to be more impactful."
Come Let's Dance will be the charity highlighted at La Torreta's Feb. 10 event. Howard said the money raised then will be used to start a program in Uganda based around economic development and leadership.
"We're about community transformation," Howard explained. "We work to equip people in Uganda to create businesses. It's about a community of people — from both Steamboat and Uganda — working together, and it's mainly about the relationships. That's where the value is created."
The Yampa Valley Autism Program will take centerstage at a Dec. 29 event, and Executive Director Lisa Lorenz said she is grateful for the Costantinis' desire to make a difference in the lives of those served by her nonprofit, as well as others.
"Our mission is very similar to Melinda's and Henry's," Lorenz said. "It's about empowering individuals and families. It's about how to harness their gifts and maximize their outcomes as functional citizens. And by focusing on impacting the individual, it's changing the community at large."
Lorenz said money raised Dec. 29 will be used to hire people to provide necessary services to the Yampa Valley Autism Program's clients.
"We have opportunities that we're unable to fulfill because of income," Lorenz said. "We're focusing on becoming a center-based location, where you can access all services under one roof, and to make our vision effective; we have to have the right people in place. We need to invest in them."
A home built for connecting
As planning for the three fundraising events advances, the Costantinis are putting the finishing touches on their new home. The couple, who moved to Steamboat from Houston in 2012, worked with architect Michael Olsen to create 10 different gathering spaces throughout the home's 10,000 square feet.
"We have areas for one-on-one conversations," Guido said. "We have a round table, made by local craftsman Kevin Washburn, that sits 12 people, allowing larger groups to enjoy each other's company, along with a sitting area of four Eames lounge chairs, begging for an intimate exchange."
Each detail of the home, including the sophisticated sound and audiovisual system, a speaking platform built into the staircase and museum-quality art on the walls, is meant to inspire interaction.
"I want the community to use our home as a tool," Guido said. "It's not about me, it's not about my wife. It's about getting people together. We'll have succeeded if the three nonprofits are successful."
To get involved, visit heartswithmissions.org or contact any of the three nonprofits. For more information on the Yampa Valley Autism program, visit yampavalleyautism.org, for information on Come Let's Dance, visit comeletsdance.org, and for information on Selah, visit selahsteamboat.com.