In the early 1960s, Doricles Cesar was working as a servant in a Haitian home. He was undernourished to the point that his stomach was swollen and his black hair had turned red. After his father and most of his siblings died due to lack of nutrition and medical care, his mother decided to send her son to a relative’s [his brother] home in hopes for his survival. At the age of 11 he was enrolled in school for the first time. The man he went to live with was his brother who was a Baptist Christian. Less than a year after Doricles’ arrival, he became ill and was hospitalized. Had he become ill while living with his mother, chances are he would not have survived. Soon after he recovered, he went to live at a missionary’s home as a houseboy.
Today that young boy is better known as Douglas C. Vaughn, President of Rite Quality Office Supplies, Inc.
According to Vaughn, his life as a servant is common in Haiti.
“There is a servitude type system in Haiti,” he said, “A lot of kids get mistreated by their overseer. Many parents send their children away hoping they are treated well, but that’s not always the case. This still happens in third world countries today, I despise that now.”
Although most of the servant children in Haiti are not treated well and often are abused by their overseers, his brother knew the minister and fell sure that Vaughn would be safe. At this minister’s home, he was not mistreated, but as Haitian custom, he was not treated as an integral part of the family. He worked hard, obeyed and was disciplined at times. Education was not offered to him.
“In 1963 Mr. and Mrs. Orville Vaughn were visiting Haiti and stayed at the home where I was servant,” said Vaughn. “Mom Vaughn saw me working and like the way I worked. She watched me every morning while I worked and was amazed that a boy of my age would have such diligence. She told her husband that she wanted that little boy.”
The Kokomo natives did not want him as a servant, but as a son – a noble gesture considering the two were in their mid- to late 60s.
“It was admirable for them to take guardianship of me,” said Vaughn. “We didn’t speak the same language. They really had to see God’s miracle in the works.”
According to Vaughn, his future parents saw a young boy who was working to better himself even in an environment that was working against him rather than with him. If he could make the best of that situation, they believed he could not only adapt to the American culture, but also thrive in it. The Vaughns adopted Doricles in 1965. At that time, they changed his name from Doricles to Douglas. However, he kept his surname of Cesar as his middle name and was known as Douglas C. Vaughn.
He had to learn to speak English while catching up in school with kids his own age. At 13 years old, he started school in the third grade. Prior to him coming to the United States, Vaughn had little to no education.
“If I wanted to be any success in life, I had to work harder than others,” he said. “I didn’t have time to play. I had to study, study, study. I had to learn as much and as fast as I could.”
According to Vaughn, he filtered into the American culture and the education system at a fast pace. His determination and obedience helped him adapt. His new mother did her part in helping him succeed by lining up the right people to help her son adapt and thrive.
“Mom Vaughn was affective in teaching me and finding me patient and caring tutors,” he said. “I finished the third grade in nine weeks and went to the fifth grade. I finished the fifth grade that school year and went on to the sixth grade. After that, I took one grade at a time.”
Adapting to the education system was not the only struggle. Vaughn was accustomed to different food, culture, and language. Although there were difficulties adjusting, Vaughn looks back at that time today and knows it was worth it.
“The transition to Kokomo wasn’t easy. I didn’t speak English and everyone was a stranger. Only God knows what my life would have been like if I stayed in Haiti. It would have been cloudy at best. The opportunities for education and moving up in life successfully were not there. Kokomo didn’t have many immigrants then. It wasn’t as multicultural as it is today. But, there were friends here. There are some very nice people in Kokomo.”
The transition to Kokomo wasn’t easy. I didn’t speak English and everyone was a stranger. Only God knows what my life would have been like if I stayed in Haiti. It would have been cloudy at best. The opportunities for education and moving up in life successfully were not there. Kokomo didn’t have many immigrants then. It wasn’t as multicultural as it is today. But, there were friends here. There are some very nice people in Kokomo.
One relationships he developed here in Kokomo was with his now wife Lynn. Although she too was adopted out of Haiti, the couple met in 1964 in Kokomo.
“Mom Vaughn was active in the Indiana State Missionary Baptist Convention here,” he said. “She worked with the President Dr. F. Benjamin Davis on mission projects – especially those in Haiti. The Davis’ had also brought a girl from Haiti and eventually adopted her. That girl was Lynn and, yes, we met in Kokomo, but did not know each other in Haiti.”
One might say the meeting was ironic, but Vaughn has a different philosophy, “It’s more than ironic. You can see God in the whole thing. He is constantly planning and making ways for us.”
Today, the Vaughns have three children: Doricles, Kimberly, and Christina.
With his roots growing deeper in Kokomo soil, Vaughn made his living as an insurance salesman for 13 years before he ventured out and started his own office supply business in 1989. Vaughn’s two careers overlapped for a few years while the office supply business began to take speed. Once it became obvious that the new venture was going to thrive, Vaughn sold his insurance business and gave his full attention to Rite Quality Office Supplies, Inc.
One organization he is proud to devote time to H.E.S.P. – Haitian Environmental Support Program – of which he is the president. HESP supports  children in Haiti who are struggling to stay alive by providing food, clothes, and educational opportunities.
Although many have heard that third world nations exist, many do not know what that actually means. The reality is that 80% of the people are desperately poor.
It means that most of the children born in this country cannot expect to live more than 50 years. It means that only 30 percent of the population can read, write, or understand simple math. What HESP does is provide educational opportunities for the children of Haiti.
Today his business is doing well inside and outside of Kokomo. He has clients in several states and is realizing the opportunities he imagined the business could have. But making money for him is not the only reason Vaughn is pleased with his business. His success translates into him being able to give back to the country he came from and the community he grew up in.
Although he is very involved in supporting people in his home country, Vaughn does not limit his giving to Haiti. “I love America, and I feel that it is a wonderful country to be a part of. I also have the community of Kokomo in which I live. My philosophy is this: somebody had to help me. Whenever possible, I’m interested in helping someone else. That’s what Jesus was about. He wasn’t selfish and doesn’t want us to be, God blesses us to bless others.”
Story taken from: Kokomo Perspective (2002)
Original article written by: Heather Hileman
Adapted/Edited: Kimberly Vaughn