The Spirit of Stratton
The Stratton Foundation and The Carlos Otis Clinic continue their tireless efforts to make an invaluable difference in the lives of Stratton’s visitors, residents, and neighboring community members.
From the first day that it opened its chairlifts to the public in December of 1961, Stratton Mountain Resort has stood as a tangible testament to the power of hard work and community cooperation. Thanks to years of extensive planning, its founding members were able to overcome seemingly unconquerable obstacles to create a magnificent winter retreat in the heart of Southern Vermont’s mountainous backcountry. In the decades that followed the resort’s grand opening, crowds of passionate winter sports enthusiasts flocked to Stratton’s snowy slopes, and a vibrant community was subsequently born.
As the resort continued to grow over the next few decades, it began to attract increasing numbers of visitors and part-time residents, many of whom became closely involved with philanthropic efforts in the local community. The magnanimous donations of Stratton’s community members helped to grow and sustain two celebrated nonprofit organizations: The Carlos Otis Clinic and the Stratton Foundation.
United by their shared pursuit of community betterment, the two separate institutions work tenaciously to ensure the well-being and safety of both Stratton’s visitors and its local neighboring residents. Just as the heart and body of Stratton is best represented by its lively village and its windswept slopes, the conscientious and determined spirit that has defined Stratton Mountain Resort since its earliest days is perfectly embodied by the selfless works of The Carlos Otis Clinic and the Stratton Foundation. As they approach their respective 50th and 25th anniversaries, we at Stratton Magazine honor their commitment to the welfare of their local community. By providing crucial support and care to those who need it most, they make Stratton a safer and happier place for all who come to visit.
The Stratton Foundation was first established in 1996, after a group of altruistically-minded individuals with deep ties to Stratton Mountain Resort met to discuss plans for future philanthropic projects. According to Executive Director Tammy Mosher, “Their original vision was to develop a centralized organization dedicated to the efficient sourcing and distribution of local community support grants. The initial fundraising and networking for the Stratton Foundation began with small gatherings and local events. In the beginning, our proceeds funded local arts and sports programs, as well as education and community development initiatives.”
Tammy says that as the Stratton Foundation continued to expand, there were several key events that helped to shape its trajectory. “In the aftermath of Hurricane Irene in 2011, we launched our Hurricane Relief Campaign. The outpouring of support from part-time residents who owned properties at Stratton was phenomenal. It showed us that they didn’t just see Stratton as their ‘second home.’ They really went above and beyond to support the community. We raised $450,000 during that campaign. It was a watershed moment that really allowed us to expand our operations. Another pivotal event was when Michael Cobb – who was serving as the Vice President of sales and marketing at Stratton at the time – decided to make the Stratton Foundation the prime beneficiary of the “24 Hours of Stratton” event in 2013. The event was modeled after the “24 Hours of Tremblant” event in Quebec. It was an around-the-clock skiing marathon that ended up raising $300,000 for the Foundation. We were then able to begin creating wonderful partnership initiatives with local institutions. It just continued to grow from there.”
Tammy adds that donations and support from Stratton Mountain Resort have also made a significant impact on the Foundation’s growth. “Stratton Mountain Resort has been an amazing partner in terms of their philanthropic involvement. They have truly recognized us as the nonprofit arm of the Stratton community. Last summer, they partnered with us for the ‘Kids Summer Lunch’ program. They helped us to provide over 20,000 meals to local children. They have hosted a variety of wonderful fundraising events for us in the past, and they continue to offer their unyielding support in terms of promotional assistance whenever possible. I can call the marketing department and tell them that I need a poster, and they’ll do it for me without hesitation. They go out of their way to help in any way that they can.”
Tammy is grateful to have been able to oversee the implementation of a number of compassionate humanitarian programs during her years at the Stratton Foundation, many of which are focused on improving the health and welfare of children from surrounding towns. “The majority of Stratton Foundation’s current philanthropic programs are primarily centered around providing economically disadvantaged families and children in surrounding communities with the resources and care that they so desperately need. When children are raised in an underprivileged household, they’re often not able to properly focus on their hygiene and nutrition. If they’re not being adequately cared for, they’re not going to be able to concentrate at school. Our programs work towards the goal of ensuring that all children in surrounding communities are fed. They make sure that they have a toothbrush, as well as access to proper dental care. We also provide local schools with on-hand grant money so they can care for the basic daily needs of the kids that walk through their doors.”
Additional initiatives, such as the “Pass It On”, “Boots 4 Kids” and “Kicks 4 Kids” programs help to provide underprivileged children and adults in surrounding communities with quality clothing and footwear. Tammy says that one of the best and most direct ways to help the Stratton Foundation – in addition to monetary donations – is by donating to their “Pass It On” winter clothing collection and distribution program. “I’m continually amazed at the number of brand-new coats that we get. People donate new and lightly used snow pants, hats, scarves, and gloves, as well. I receive donations constantly. After the coats are donated, I schedule events with all of the schools in the area. We load everything that’s been donated into a moving truck and go around to the schools in September and October every year. We set up sections for girls, boys, toddlers, men’s and women’s clothing. It’s incredibly humbling to see the difference that it makes. Our Boots and Kicks 4 Kids programs provide young children with quality footwear. It feels amazing to be able to see the looks on these young kids’ faces when they try on a new pair of boots or shoes for the first time.”
Academic programs – such as their “Success Program” at Burr & Burton Academy in Manchester – help to provide many economically disadvantaged students the support and tools that they need to succeed academically. Tammy says that the programs are a critically important way to change the life trajectory of economically disadvantaged children. “We give them the tools that they need to achieve their academic goals. The children in BBA’s success program are taught how to properly write applications for educational grants and scholarship requests. We support them with financial aid. We also work with multiple schools in the area to help them purchase up-to-date technological equipment, such as computers and tablets. We also make an effort to connect schools with state, federal, and private grant programs. We want to make sure that we are doing as much as we can to help our children grow and blossom over the course of their educational journeys.”
As the Stratton Foundation continues to bring light and hope to the local community, they honor the generosity of their donors through their “Snowlight In Vermont” Holiday tree dedication program. Illuminating the winter sky with the spirit of warmth and compassion, the trees give donors the opportunity to express themselves with a personalized message. Recently, Tammy was able to expand the program beyond Stratton into Manchester. By doing so, she was able to broadcast a message of hope to the greater Southern Vermont community while spreading awareness about the scope and impact of the foundation’s programs in the Shires region. “We had 16 families donate for our first year down in Manchester. It was a great first launch. It was wonderful to have a visible physical presence in town. It was a perfect way to create awareness for our causes while acknowledging the generosity of the families that support the region.”
Carlos Otis Clinic
Founded in 1971, the Carlos Otis Stratton Mountain Clinic is one of the oldest and longest-operating ski resort medical clinics in the country. Before the clinic first opened, skiers seeking medical treatment at Stratton would have to be driven eighteen miles to the Grace Cottage Hospital in Townshend, Vermont in order to be seen by a doctor. As the resident physician at Grace Cottage Hospital, Dr. Carlos Otis knew that something needed to be done to treat ski injuries more efficiently. Dr. Otis subsequently made arrangements with Stratton Mountain Resort and offered his services as a visiting on-site physician. Phil Snyder (brother of Stratton Mountain Resort Founder Frank Snyder) and the owners of the resort then made the benevolent decision to donate land, and helped fund the construction of the building that would house the clinic. Although several additions and facility enhancements have occurred over the years, the same original building exists today.
According to the Carlos Otis Clinic’s Executive Director, Seth Boyd, the clinic operates under an inventive staffing method, which was developed in its early years. “After Dr. Otis started the Clinic, he and a partner, Bill McAusland, convinced several orthopedists from the Boston area to come up and volunteer during the peak of the ski season. To this day, all of our doctors are volunteers. They come in for one to three weeks at a time. Many are highly recommended orthopedists and emergency medicine physicians from some of the best hospitals in the Northeast and beyond, such as the Hospital for Special Surgery in New York City, Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, and Massachusetts General Hospital.”
Seth recalls, “When the clinic started, it was mainly focused on orthopedic medicine. The primary objective was to treat ski injuries. As an increasing number of part-time homeowners started to spend their time here, the clinic began to answer to the community’s needs, and developed program offerings as one of the original all-purpose urgent care facilities. Nowadays, we have an orthopedic surgeon and an emergency medicine physician on staff here at all times. During holidays and vacation weeks, we may have more than one orthopedist or emergency physician to help cover the shifts. Our unique volunteer program has really allowed us to provide excellent care for both the Stratton resort community and the local residents of surrounding towns.”
Seth says that in 2004, the clinic constructed a building right next door to house the volunteer physicians. “The building features two comfortable condo units, and also an apartment. Many of the visiting doctors bring their spouses and children when they come up to work here. Since the beginning days of the volunteer program, on quieter days – such as weekdays – many of the doctors are able to be ‘on call’ and go out on the slopes to enjoy a ski run or two. The resort generously provides skiing privileges for the doctors and their families while they’re here. It’s a truly beneficial ‘win-win’ program.”
Seth says that the Carlos Otis Clinic also oversees a number of auxiliary services for the Stratton Community, such as a licensed paramedic ambulance service that provides the resort and surrounding community with emergency response and ambulance transportation. “We’re proud of our paramedic ambulance program here, which is a true collaboration with the resort. The clinic owns the ambulance, stocks the ambulance, and buys all of the supplies and the medications. We provide the management and the oversight, and the resort provides the staffing. Trained and certified ski patrol staff members serve as EMTs, advanced EMTs, and paramedics. The advantage of this arrangement is that there is a near-seamless continuation of care at all levels of treatment. From initial intervention and rescue on the hill, to the clinic and beyond, every step of the triage and assessment process is handled by healthcare workers and paramedics who are working for Stratton Mountain Resort or the clinic in one capacity or another. At other resorts, the ambulances and paramedics typically operate autonomously. Here at Stratton, ski patrollers, paramedics, and clinical physicians all operate under the same unified umbrella. Our assessment and treatment protocols are streamlined so that information gets efficiently passed from one level to the next. It allows our patients to receive appropriate care in a timely manner. The patients benefit a great deal from the way that our system is designed. It makes them feel safe to see how organized and efficient our process is.”
By working closely with Stratton Mountain Resort, the Carlos Otis Clinic was recently able to implement a program that oversaw the funding and distribution of automatic external defibrillators throughout the Stratton resort community, as well as CPR and AED training for many of the resort’s staff members. As a direct result of the initiative, Stratton was awarded the designation of a “Heart Safe Community” by the state of Vermont. The clinic takes pride in the “Heart Safe” designation, which is considered to be a well-deserved acknowledgment of the work that the Carlos Otis Clinic has done to make the Stratton community safer for both visitors and residents.
Seth says that in order to be awarded a “Heart Safe” designation, the state of Vermont has a number of essential criteria that applying towns and communities have to meet. “You need to have a certain number of people who live or work in the community trained in CPR. You have to hold regular trainings, as well as initiate community outreach programs. You need to have advanced cardiac and airway management equipment in the clinic. You need to have paramedic level care available, and you have to have a certain number of publicly accessible AEDs. It’s an exacting certification process, but I think it’s important to be able to give Stratton’s visitors and residents the peace of mind that comes from knowing that CPR-trained staff and lifesaving equipment are ready and available in the event of an emergency.”
The way Seth sees it, the biggest reward for the ceaseless efforts of the Carlos Otis Clinic is the feedback that they consistently receive from their patients. “Our goal is to provide the best medical care experience possible. As a result, our feedback is overwhelmingly positive. Many of our patients comment that we provide the best medical care they have ever received here at the Carlos Otis Clinic.”
Looking forward, Seth hopes to continue providing excellent medical care to Stratton Mountain resort, as well as the surrounding community. “The Carlos Otis Stratton Mountain Clinic is approaching its 50-year anniversary. The organization boasts a dedicated board of directors, a professional nursing and administrative staff, and a roster of skilled volunteer physicians. Our hope for the future is to continue to adapt and meet the medical needs of the Stratton community. Now, more than ever, we need financial support from our compassionate community to continue our mission for another 50 years! Results speak for themselves – our patient outcomes, even in life-threatening situations, are excellent. We are making a difference in people’s lives every day.”
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CARLOS OTIS CLINIC