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Return to Haiti

Local businessman to deliver thousands of dollars in aid

Since starting the Haitian Environmental Support Program more than two decades ago, Douglas C. Vaughn has made numerous return trips to his native home.

His most recent trip was this past fall, after the organization’s annual H.E.S.P. Walk-a-Thon. Vaughn and several others return to Haiti with almost $20,000 raise through the fundraiser.

The money was used to support 85 Haitian children with food, clothes, and education.

Sitting behind his desk at Rite Quality Office Supplies Inc., 710 N. Washington St., Vaughn review thank-you letters from children his non-profit organization has supported.

He files away another check and then another – more money to support Haitians.

Vaughn is returning to Haiti.

However, unlike his other visits, this trip, he said, is “unplanned.”

As is the reason he is returning.

On Jan 12, a catastrophic earthquake struck Haiti. The Haitian government has reported an estimated 3 million people were affected by the earthquake. It killed as many as 230,000 people, injured more than 300,000 and left more than 1 million Haitians homeless.

Vaughn leaves Tuesday on a six-day trip to Haiti. For this disaster relief journey, he will be accompanied by area pastors and business leaders: Pastor Lonnie Anderson of Mount Pisgah Baptist Church, Kokomo; Pastor Clarence Moore of Northside New Era Baptist Church; and businesswoman Kimberly R. Vaughn of Nashville, Tennessee.

So the humanitarian checks Vaughn had filed away are now ready to go. More than $23,000 has been donated by churches, individuals and businesses to purchase more than 20 tons of rice, beans, cornmeal and cooking oil.

Vaughn said the items will be distributed to 10 churches in the city of Cap-Haitien, four towns and four villages.

And unlike other philanthropic organizations that can use donated funds for overhead costs, all donated money to Vaughn’s organization is used to meet the needs of Haitian people, he said.

On the trip, he also will be accompanied by memories of loved ones who were killed during the earthquake.

“My wife [Lynn] lost family. There is family we don’t know what happened to them.  It is a small country, and you know someone who has been involved one way or another,” said Vaughn, who has spoken at numerous civic functions addressing the Haitian disaster.

“No doubt this will be a holistic ministry which has been well-planned. We will visit two hospitals and give them several thousands of dollars worth of medicine and medical supplies. We will distribute religious tracts in Creole and books on how to recover from the disasters in Creole,” continue Vaughn adding each person going on the trip is responsible for personal expenses.

“We will offer the Bread of Life and words of comfort and encouragement to the people. Our objective is to administer to the body, mind and soul, and make a positive difference in the lives of many of the earthquake victims. We will also look for potential projects to bring back to continue to help them.”

Vaughn isn’t alone in helping Haitians.

According to the center on Philanthropy at Indiana University, more than 91 non-profit organizations in the U.S. have pledged or donated more than $1,017,900,000 for disaster-relief since the earthquake.

Deborah Hirt, the center’s research coordinator, said one-third of the funds have been given to the Red Cross. However, donations have been slowing down.

“It’s a typical decline,” said Hirt. “Four to six weeks after a disaster, you typically see a decline because it is not getting the media coverage and it loses traction when you are not seeing the faces of victims on TV every night.”

Kokomo businessman Kirk Daniels attended high school with Vaughn.  He is also going on the trip with him. He knows his friend would never allow anyone to forget the needs of Haitians.

“I’ve done a lot of volunteer work and raised money for many organizations. With Doug, he raises money and you see results. That’s why I am going,” said Daniels, of Freedom Financial. “Good things happen with him, and you know good things are going to happen and have a long-term effect on the world.”

But before Vaughn leaves his office-passing the Haitian artwork on the walls and the Holy Bible sitting on a stand in the office foyer – he knows he is prepared to take this unplanned trip.

After all, he has been planning for it since Jan. 12.

“This,” he said, holding more relief checks and support letters, “takes up a big part of my day, every day. It has had an effect on me and my family. This is a serious journey of which all the participants are very excited and looking forward to going.

“I’ll tell you. Never in my life have I been addicted to anything. This has become an addiction to me ever since it happened.  I am working onthis relief effort one way or another, every day. My family can testify to that. I have to help. I have to share what is going on down there.

“God has been good to me. He knows the need. All my heart is in this.”

As printed in the Kokomo Tribune – March 14, 2010