Rick Steves: Edmonds Kiwanis Citizen of the Year

By Brian Soergel | May 18, 2017
Courtesy of: Norbert Hertl In January, Rick Steves spoke at a rally at Civic Field and marched on Edmonds streets to support fair and just immigration policies.

It’s hard to argue with the Edmonds Kiwanis Citizen of the Year award for 2017.

It’s Rick Steves, the European travel expert who’s made no secret of his love of the city. But, speaking more to the award, it’s Steves’ increased emphasis on philanthropy that earned the Kiwanis award, given in conjunction with the Edmonds Chamber of Commerce and the Edmonds Beacon.

A luncheon to honor Steves is 11 a.m.-12:30 p.m. Thursday, May 25, at Beck’s Tribute Center on Fifth Avenue South. To purchase tickets, go to www.edmondswa.com.

“Where does one start with all of the great things Rick Steves has done for the community?” the Kiwanis Club said about the honor. “He was selected based on the many years he has been so generous to the Edmonds community in so many ways.”

“I am honored to receive the Kiwanis Edmonds Citizen of the Year award,” Steves wrote in a statement from Europe – of course – where he is conducting research for his popular travel guides and for his syndicated travel show on PBS, “Rick Steves’ Europe.”

Read Steves' full statement.

It was in December that Steves, 62, announced a $2 million pledge to support the construction of the planned new Edmonds Waterfront Center being built by the Edmonds Senior Center in partnership with the city of Edmonds. He said he’ll also kick in an additional $1 million in matching funds.

It was those pledges that drew the Kiwanis Club’s attention.

“But aside from his monetary generosity,” the club said, “he is a big supporter of the community businesses when he has travel events in Edmonds.”

According to Ashley Sytsma at Rick Steves’ Europe, Steves hosts three travel festivals annually. Up to 2,000 travelers attend each one. Also, biweekly travel classes bring about 200 travelers to Edmonds each time.

Steves’ donation to the Waterfront Center was just one of several high-profile gifts he’s given to Edmonds.

In 2011, he gave $1 million to the Edmonds Center for the Arts, a portion of which went to the Edmonds-based Cascade Symphony Orchestra.

Steves doesn’t limit his good works to Edmonds. Just last month, he donated ownership of a 24-unit apartment complex in Lynnwood to YWCA Seattle-King-Snohomish to provide stable housing for women and children experiencing homelessness in Snohomish County.

Steves purchased Trinity Place in 2005 and partnered with the YWCA and Edmonds Noon Rotary to operate and support the housing program for the past 12 years. While his original plan was to will the ownership to YWCA, Steves decided to instead make the donation much sooner.

Steves also supports a variety of causes locally and nationwide and contributes to more than 170 organizations every year, including NARAL Pro-Choice Washington and Washington State Democrats,

“It’s not generous what I’m doing,” he told the Beacon in December when asked about his philanthropy. “It’s enlightened. Anybody with more money than they can consume in a way that makes them happier is enlightened to put that money to work so a lot of other people will be happier. That’s what I call ‘vicarious consumption.’

“And it’s a very cool concept. I’ve worked hard, I’ve made plenty of money. I’m at a point where, obviously, I don’t get more joy out of buying fancier pants. I don’t need a condo in some ski resort. I don’t need a big yacht. I’m doing what I want to do.”




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