Rick Steves paints a multi-level picture at Rotary Club of Lynnwood

    Rick Steves encouraged people to build bridges instead of walls.
A handful of judges, some retired and some up for election and reelection, such as Patrick Moriarty and Miguel Duran.
Terry Pollard, a Philanthropy Officer with Volunteers of America Western Washington, was commended by Steves for his work on the Lynnwood Neighborhood Center.
Steves said that upon his agency’s reopening in 2022, business exploded as people yearned to get back to traveling.
The Rotary meeting was well attended.

The Rotary Club of Lynnwood invited a special guest to their most recent meeting on Thursday, Oct. 5: Rick Steves, a well-known travel author, activist, radio host, television personality and philanthropist.

Quite a few members were personally acquainted with Steves — an Edmonds resident since 1967 — but all of the attendees knew about his contributions to the community. 

Opening with a joke, Steves spoke with a welcomed tone of levity. He spoke about many subjects, such as community projects and how his travel agency had fared during and after the height of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

“People were telling me, ‘they won’t be kissing cheeks anymore in Paris after this pandemic, I can tell you that.’ Well, they’re wrong; They’re kissing cheeks with gusto in Paris!” Steves said.

Steves said he was relieved when he learned many of his favorite European small businesses, mostly those with community ties outside of tourism, were still open.

Steves said he was proud of his company’s ability to be able to refund travelers whose plans were canceled during the sudden crisis. Similarly, the business had retained its employees despite its sudden loss of revenue. He acknowledged the travel industry’s negative influence on the environment by implementing a self-imposed “Carbon Tax.”

“This is nothing to brag about, this is nothing heroic,” Steves said. “I wish the government taxed us for this, for our carbon tax, but it doesn’t.” 

A total of $1 million in funds are given to ten nonprofit organizations benefiting farmers in the developing world. He called the assistance “the best million dollars” he spends every year.

Steves also spoke with enthusiasm about the upcoming Lynnwood Neighborhood Center, which he described as a multigenerational piazza where people could come to support each other and those in need. 

“And do you think the need [in the community] is going to just go away? No. It’s just going to get bigger,” Steves said. “You think building a site like this is going to get more affordable down the road? No, this needed to be done now.” 

Steves himself made a $3 million donation toward construction of the center. The $30 million project will provide a gym, a kitchen and a meeting space — among many other things — and is about 80% funded. 

Steves’ connection with the Rotary Club is deep and long-persevering, so it was no surprise that the books he donated to the club were purchased by its members in mere minutes. The funds benefitted the Rotary Club of Lynnwood.

— By Jasmine Contreras-Lewis

  1. Can’t say I am on the same page but you have to respect that he puts his money where his mouth is, and that is a big bonus to our city and our larger community. Well done.

  2. Thank you for your tireless efforts to help give people a “hand up”. Also for refunding travelers who had booked tours over the last few years when travel companies issued vouchers for use at a future date.
    I appreciate all you do for Edmonds and for others around the world.

  3. A businessman who looks out for his employees and his past and future clients during a health and financial crisis is someone to totally admire and respect, whether you agree with him about everything or not. Rick Steves is a man to admire and respect. Dare I even say, “great role model?”

  4. Edmonds is lucky to have citizen activists like Rick Steves. The world would be a better place if more people felt a sense of community, and obligation to their neighbors.

    1. Rick Steve’s 3 million dollar contribution is truly appreciated. His life has certainly been dedicated to educating us all on places, people and cultures we otherwise would never have been exposed to. Grateful for his kindness.

  5. I too respect wealthy people who actually share their wealth. I don’t know about all of Ricks’s ideas, but I do respect his caring. I haven’t read much about this plan in Lynnwood and I have no idea what the citizens of Lynnwood think about it either. I do think centers like this can help many, but they have to be managed well and everyone who uses them needs to also take some responsibility to keep everyone safe. If there is objection, I would guess it is just safety concerns?? I don’t know I would have to ask him or go myself when it is completed and check it out. I would love to see these types of centers work well. Having others to support those who need support is key, I think. As an outreach worker I spent much time with homeless youth and every single type of person with and without problems. It was so rewarding, and I learned so much. I would volunteer here. Volunteers are KEY to success for spots like this, I think. Free help will get you a long way. Good luck.

  6. Rick is a Community Hero in our midst. Thank you, Rick, for all you do for Edmonds and our larger community.
    Bob Hauck, Rotary Club of Shoreline

  7. Thank You, RICK ! For all your generous contributions to EDMONDS – – – – including ECA and the Edmonds Waterfront Center! Whether monetary contributions or our volunteer efforts; we can all contribute in some way !

  8. Great man of action with a big heart. Thank you Rick for all the service you render to the Edmond’s community.. It’s amazing when I read about your deeds. Super hero. Much appreciated and thank you again.
    Rtn. Newton

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