Vail musician helps people in need
Vail, CO Colorado
VAIL – Visiting a third-world country that just got crushed by a 7.0 magnitude earthquake isn’t what average Vail Valley locals would likely consider the perfect off-season vacation, but Scott Stoughton is not an average guy.
Stoughton, of Eagle-Vail and manager of the Samana Lounge in Vail Village, just got back from spending two weeks in the disaster-torn country – two weeks, he says, that changed his perspective on life forever.
“The biggest thing I’ll take away is that the people were just so vibrant and hopeful,” Stoughton said. “They affected me.”
Stoughton has also had a soft spot for people in need. Last year he helped create Campout for the Cause, a music festival in Rancho Del Rio, near State Bridge, to raise money for nonprofits. This year’s event, July 2-4, will benefit both The Realm of Caring, a local nonprofit, and international relief organization Hands on Disaster Response.
“I have a huge place in my heart for people who are less fortunate than myself,” Stoughton said. “I’m in a place where I have time to offer my time.”
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Stoughton has traveled to third-world countries before, but nothing could have prepared him for Haiti. It’s the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere and Stoughton wanted to get an understanding of what’s happening there following the January earthquake that shattered the already struggling country.
He went with other volunteers for Hands on Disaster Response and gave up just about every modern convenience you could imagine to lend his help.
He flew into Port au Prince, the Haitian capital, and was greeted with chaos, he said.
There was devastation everywhere he looked, with disaster relief volunteers scattered throughout ,trying to do what they can to improve the situation there.
“The smell is what really got me,” Stoughton said.
With old cars spitting out diesel emissions, open sewers, trash all over the streets, dust and people cooking outside using charcoal, it was hard to breathe at first. He was working in the epicenter area of the earthquake and saw devastation that he never imagined.
He was there to work – six days a week, in tight living conditions. He said he couldn’t sleep much at night because it was 100 degrees and he was just drenched in sweat. His diet consisted of rice and beans twice a day, and there was no alcohol allowed in his camp.
“There are all these different projects going on and people are really getting things done,” Stoughton said. “It’s really impressive to see what they’re doing.”
Stoughton said he had some safety concerns while he was there, mostly for disease and injury – he was still nursing the remnants of some sicknesses Friday.
All of the obstacles he overcame to get there, though, weren’t enough to keep him away. In fact, he’s planning to go back sometime before January to help again.
“It totally got in my blood,” he said.
Stoughton wants to use his connections as a musician and music venue manager to bring more awareness. He held a fundraiser benefit at Samana with local musicians right after the Haiti earthquake and plans to host many more events in the future.
“I hope people keep in their hearts and minds the less fortunate around us,” Stoughton said. “Don’t be afraid to help, whether it’s donating a penny or a minute.”
Community Editor Lauren Glendenning can be reached at 970-748-2983 or firstname.lastname@example.org.