It is an early Christmas for some lucky musicians at our public schools, thanks to a generous gift of instruments donated by Music Boosters board member Jeff Schaupp and his amazing group of friends who helped him, “Pay it forward.”
The story is largely one of gratitude, a desire to provide for others in the same manner that others have provided for him.
A few months ago, Jeff received a piano, a free gift from a friend who knew that if Jeff couldn’t use it, he would find someone who could.
“People give me things like this all the time. They know that I will find a good use for them,” he said. Jeff offered the piano to the high school music department. This act of generosity began to snowball. Jeff’s friend, Charlie Brannon, of Leadfoot Ruthie fame, volunteered to step in to help refurbish the piano, tune it and make it useful to the students.
Another friend, Susan Christie, heard he had done this and helped Jeff find a guitar to give to the Americana Project, a relatively new program in the high school that helps students create and perform their own music.
His employer, Susan Young, soon caught wind of his philanthropic enthusiasm and told him that she had acquired some instruments through her Foundation of Science and Spirituality and offered to donate them. She and Jeff took the instruments to Music Matters in Cortez, where they paid to have the instruments fully refurbished and ready to play.
All in all, thanks to Jeff’s enthusiasm towards giving, he and his friends have donated a trumpet, cornet, tenor saxophone, alto saxophone, flute, clarinet, guitar and piano.
“It feels really good to do this,” said Schaupp. “I have so many wonderful friends who have done so much for me along the way. My feeling of gratitude originates with my own parents who are very generous and loving people. My Boy Scout leader, Hilton McNally, back in Watertown, New York, had a huge influence on me, as he taught me about living a life that gives value to others. I have been truly blessed,” he said.
Because of his gratitude, Schaupp has found a deep sense of fulfillment in “Paying it forward.” He is a member of St. Patrick’s Episcopal Church, where he serves on the vestry and is a member of St. Patrick Men’s Group, a church organization that is dedicated to serving others. He also cooks and serves at Loaves and Fishes, a group that provides a free hot meal once a week. As a member of the Music Boosters board, he is enthusiastically committed to their mission to strengthen youth through performing arts and adult volunteer mentoring.
“The gift of instruments is a lifelong gift. Music is a gift that continues to bring joy over the course of a lifetime. With a little help from my friends, we have been able to make a difference,” he said. “I have lived in Pagosa since 1990. I know a lot of people here who have very generous spirits. It is all a matter of pulling these folks together and getting them excited about giving back. Just think what our world would be like if everyone just pitched in.”