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Howard: Building on the power of partnerships

Elyse Howard
Valley Voices
Gary Shimanowitz speaks at Habitat for Humanity Vail Valley’s 100th home groundbreaking ceremony at Stratton Flats in July 2021.
Courtesy photo

Our community is still reeling from the loss of Gary Shimanowitz — a leader on and off Beaver Creek Mountain. Even after 30-plus years working for Vail Resorts, Gary still got a thrill from finding powder stashes, holding meetings on the hill and creating community.

He was the embodiment of many of Habitat’s values, especially building community and strengthening family. His steadfast commitment to his friends, family, company, community and Habitat for Humanity Vail Valley was core to Gary’s character. He had big plans to incorporate his role with the Habitat Vail Valley Board of Directors and his role as vice president of mountain operations. Plans that were cut short too soon but that we are honored to bring to life.

Partnerships are building blocks

Gary was an ardent supporter of Habitat for Humanity Vail Valley. Similarly, Vail Resorts has been a longtime partner, involved with Habitat since our inception in 1995. We broke ground on our 100th home in 2021, and Vail Resorts has been with us in every neighborhood. Now it’s our turn to honor Gary and to continue our partnership to build brighter futures.



Elyse Howard

Gary held Vail Resorts’ key values closely: To serve others, do right, be inclusive, drive value, do good, be safe and have fun. And he knew how to have fun, whether he was working, volunteering or creating new programs.

As a board member, Gary was finding his footing and had plans to share his commitment to Habitat with his team. Coming out of COVID-19, Gary looked forward to gathering together. He envisioned gathering for good where Vail Resorts’ employees would volunteer on the Habitat job site, helping locals realize their dreams of home ownership.



At last summer’s groundbreaking, Gary shared he was proud of his involvement with both Habitat and Vail Resorts EpicPromise — building on a longtime partnership that allows more people to stay in the valley, ensuring the community thrives.

A home is everything: It is the first step in creating community, building a brighter future and dreaming big. Volunteers are key to our efforts of building permanently affordable homes — Gary got this. He saw the importance of housing stability and envisioned having frequent, regular build days with his team.

And since he was a natural leader — gregarious, fun and quick witted, always with a smile — there is no doubt in our minds these days would have helped us make strides on the eight homes under construction in Stratton Flats.

Vail Resorts will pick up where Gary had to leave off, commemorating his values and leadership through volunteerism. This fall, Vail Resorts will host a volunteer day in honor of Gary — we hope it will be the first of many.

We were lucky to have known Gary and to have worked with him. We saw his vision start to bloom. We’re proud to partner with Vail Resorts to help carry on his legacy to build a brighter future for people who live, work and ski here. Join us later this fall in remembrance of Gary, all he did and what he was meant to do — building on his legacy for creating homes filled with laughter through leadership, humility and hugs.


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