Vail Valley reaches out to Central America
Vail, CO Colorado
VAIL, Colorado –Three years ago Vail Valley resident Kelley Brupbacher was sitting on a dirt floor in Panama, eating chicken, beans, and rice with a local family when they told her they needed a school.
“Okay, I can do that for you,” she answered.
Since then, Brupbacher, founder of the Central America Foundation, has led the Vail Valley in efforts to aid Central America, funding schools and hospitals, and providing related supplies.
Brupbacher, who lives in Minturn, says local businesses and Vail locals who travel to Central America are eager to help, which is why she feels that the Vail Valley has been a great home for her foundation. “We are lucky we live in a very giving community,” she says, “I am speechless from the help I recieve.”
Local Scott Stoughton says this generosity is particularly valuable now, because “people are holding onto their money and often cutting donations from the budget.”
This is why Stoughton, manager of the Samana Lounge in Vail, organized the “Camp Out For a Cause” fundraiser for the Central America Foundation, over Memorial Day weekend. Fifty percent of the proceeds from the campout were donated to Brupbacher’s cause, and Stoughton hopes this has laid the groundwork for an annual event for the foundation. Stoughton’s band, Bonfire Dub, also peformed at the charity event.
Other local businesses such as Vin 48, VailPM, and Eat! Drink! also help by donating for fundraisers.
Brupbacher says that the Central America Foundation works with other organizations trying to help in the region. Earlier efforts provided supplies and money, but organizations did not stay long enough to make sure communities got what they needed.
“We need to teach the man to fish, not just provide the fish,” she says.
Brupbacher said large parts of Central America are considered “third world.” Many children only go to school until the sixth grade, she said.
Communities can be more than five hours from any medical help without road access, so many suffer needlessly. And, conditions are worse away from the coast where there is little tourist revenue, she says, so most Americans don’t see the worst of it.
Since there is so much work to be done, the Central American Foundation focuses on the long term, working with government leaders to improve standards. Brupbacher says the hardest part about her position is being patient. Long-term changes come gradually, she says.
This summer, the Central America Foundation will travel to Costa Rica, Panama and Honduras. The foundation will bring coffee from plantations there to be sold at Vail Mountain Coffee and Tea. Brupbacher and the foundation make eight to 10 trips to Central America per year. She insists, “There is never a better time to make a difference than at that moment that you are thinking about it.”
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