Trip Effler and his dad DJ helped the Spanish Peaks Community Foundation select a winner for this winter’s dues waiver, an incentive offered by CrossHarbor Group for those who donate to the letter writing campaign. PHOTO COURTESY SARAH EFFLER

Big Sky’s youngest volunteer steps into the spotlight

Denman Family Foundation wins the Spanish Peaks Community Foundation dues waiver

Stepping into the spotlight can be a frightening proposition, no matter one’s age. When the call to volunteer for the Spanish Peaks Community Foundation Facebook Live video drawing came, three-year-old Trip Effler answered without much hesitation, saying with his actions: “Step aside, older humans. I have a job to do.”

Trip was drawing on a tradition going back at least five years. The grand prize winner of a winter dues waiver, donated by CrossHarbor Group, was selected from those members who contributed to the end-of-year letter writing campaign.

Held by his dad DJ, Trip placed his hand in the hat and removed a slip of paper. With that, he was able to make Pat Denman’s 2021 a little brighter.

“Pat and her late husband Dave, who just passed away, have been members of Spanish Peaks since day one. They have been extremely generous donors to our foundation since its inception,” Spanish Peaks Community Foundation President John Haas later said. “For [the Denman Family Foundation] to win this year was particularly awesome.”

Haas explained that young Trip’s mentality of helpfulness echoed that of SPCF donors throughout the difficult year.

“Our membership really stepped up to the plate. Most of them don’t live here and they are giving money for us to give back to our community,” he said, noting that Moonlight and Yellowstone Club also made significant contributions to the community. “Think about that, a town of 3,000 people – [SPCF] gave away half a million dollars.”

He and vice president of SPCF Walker Jones hosted the Facebook Live event which featured the drawing.

Jones explained in the video that in 2020 “which we all know was such a terrible year, we first raised over $400,000 and then, with our end of the year letter writing campaign, we raised another $300,000 and all of that is going back to the Big Sky Community. We are so grateful.”

Because of the generous donations the organization was able to give in excess of $500,000 in grants to the nonprofit community in Big Sky and also to the Big Sky Relief Fund, Jones explained.

Haas said the tally of donated dollars at the end of 2020 was a whopping $750,000 – a banner year to mark SPCF’s near decade of philanthropy in the community.

SPCF launched the Black Diamond Giving Program in 2020, in which those that sign-on are promising to donate a minimum of $5,000 per year for a minimum of three years.

“We just started in midDecember and we already have almost 30 members. It guarantees longevity for our giving programs. Multiple people committed to more than $5,000 and more than three years,” he said.

Any Spanish Peaks Mountain Club member interested in participating in the Black Diamond Giving Program should contact Haas at

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