A sweet deal for CMU students

When Doug and Jamee Simons talk about philanthropy and CMU, it’s not so much about what they have done in the past. That’s considerable, since they have been giving to CMU regularly since shortly after the two were students in the early 1970s.

What the owners of Enstrom Candies are more interested in is how they can do even more.

“CMU donations are a line item in the Enstrom Candies budget,” said Doug. It’s a line with a long upward trajectory.

“We’d like to do more,” said Jamee. And indeed, plans are well under way to do just that.

One project that will benefit CMU in coming years, spearheaded by Doug, is to donate the proceeds from the Rocky Mountain Open Golf Tournament to CMU athletics.

Doug put together a group that bought the rights to the Grand Junction tournament — the oldest continuously running golf tournament in Colorado. “We hope to endow a fund at the Foundation with those proceeds.”

The Simonses, including their two sons, Doug Jr. and Jim, and Enstrom Candies (it’s nearly impossible to separate the family from the company) understand this community has been good to them and in return they owe something to the community.

Giving to CMU is one way they repay that debt.

“We have spent our entire careers at the candy company doing a mail order business, importing a lot of dollars. So we feel a responsibility to support the wonderful institutions in the community,” said Doug. “CMU is such an economic driver for this community. It’s important to us that we support it. At the end of the day it comes back to you in spades.”

Enstrom Candies' support of CMU began with Jamee’s grandfather, Chet Enstrom. Among other things, while a senator in the late 1960s, he pushed the bill in the legislature to make Mesa Junior College a four-year institution. A scholarship in his name is still on the books. A few years ago Doug and Jamee, in addition to their other gifts to the school, began adding money to that scholarship.

Now, the two are starting to think about the next generation. Doug Jr. and Jim are Enstrom Candies employees. They have been given the responsibility of picking the recipients of the Enstrom scholarship.

It’s part of an effort by their parents to teach them the value of philanthropy.

Jim, asked if he plans to continue the philanthropic efforts of three generations before him, has a simple one-word answer. “Absolutely.”