The holidays are a time of generosity and good cheer, but Wood River Valley residents benefit year-round from nonprofit organizations geared toward spreading the wealth for good causes.
Landscape architect Marty Lyon started 100 Men Who Care in 2012 to gather funding for selected nonprofit organizations. Last year, the men’s philanthropic group donated $11,500 to the Salvation Army to help support families throughout the Wood River Valley during the holiday season.
“The holiday season is often considered the season of giving, but 100 Men Who Care give throughout the year,” Lyon said.
Lyon and his wife, Mila, moved from Tacoma, Wash., to the Wood River Valley in June 2001.
“It wasn’t long until we saw what a caring community the valley is, a community with great spirit and generosity,” Lyon said. “We quickly became involved in various ways.”
Lyon said he was taught by his parents the concept of Tzeadakah, a Jewish word for giving or assisting those in need.
“Tzedakah means to me giving one’s time, experience or financial gift,” he said.
In 2012, Lyon and his son Moghan formed a partnership to start Lyon Landscape Architects in the Wood River Valley.
“We wanted our business to have a foundation of social consciousness, so I started 100 Men Who Care as part of our business plan,” Lyon said.
So why a men’s only group? Lyon said he noticed that there already were the Wood River Women’s Charitable Foundation, the Little Black Dress Club and V.A.M.P.S., as well as numerous nonprofit organizations headed by women.
“These are all very important organizations for women and led by women. I said to myself, ‘Hey, guys! What are we doing to contribute to our community?”
To fill the gap, Lyon held the first meeting of 100 Men Who Care at his house in February 2013. Sixteen men participated and they donated a first gift of $1,600 to Ketchum Community Dinners for those in need.
“When you ask for help, or in my experience with 100 Men Who Care, ask men to participate, they say, ‘I’m in, you can count on me.’ We were able to bring men together. Because we are men, we want those in our community to be successful. We succeeded even without having a beer or even a remote in our hands.”
100 Men Who Care provides an example of how small donations can add up quickly. Each man is responsible for writing a check for $100 to the selected nonprofit. Those who are unable to attend the meeting mail their checks. Since its humble beginnings, the group has provided $192,000 to 28 nonprofits of all kinds in the valley.
“Souper Supper in Hailey serves free meals to anybody in the community on Monday and Thursday evenings from 5:30 to 6:30. Our gift filled their pantry,” Lyon said. “After the Beaver Creek Fire [in 2013], we gave a gift to Wood River Fire & Rescue showing our support for protecting our community.”
100 Men has also supported The Senior Connection, Hospice of the Wood River Valley, I Have a Dream Foundation, the Wood River Orchestra and the Sawtooth Botanical Garden, and has even supported Sun Valley Community School students for an electric truck project.
“We have strength in numbers,” Lyon said. “Margaret Mead said it best—‘Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed individuals can change the world; indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.’ I am very proud to say that 100 Men Who Care is making a difference for a diverse and large segment of our community,” Lyon said.
The 100 Men Who Care quarterly meetings take place at The Community Library in Ketchum, with the exception of its July meeting, which is held at the Sawtooth Botanical Garden, south of Ketchum.
“This meeting is followed by our annual social gathering, where we enjoy camaraderie, food and beverage in the beautiful public garden,” Lyon said.
The next meeting of the group will take place on Tuesday, Jan. 7, at 5:30 p.m. at The Community Library in Ketchum, beginning with a “thank you” presentation by its last recipient, Project T.O.O.L.S. (in partnership with Flourish Foundation).
Over the course of the first years since its inception, about 150 men have participated. To be an active member, men must commit to at least one year, supporting four local nonprofits.
“In 2019, we had on average 112 men participate for each of our four meetings. We welcome new members and I often receive emails and phone calls from men learning about 100 Men Who Care and want in on the fun,” Lyon said.
To learn more, visit 100menwhocarewoodrivervalley.com.