ASPEN (AP) – Zachery Bowersock is making a difference in the world, one cocktail at a time.
From raising money to help hospitals care for cancer patients to environmental organizations combating climate change, since January the Aspen bartender has donated a portion of the tips he’s earned each month to benefit nonprofits and charitable causes locally and nationally.
The 28-year-old Aspenite’s latest goal may be his most ambitious: raise $5,000 to benefit the Shining Stars Foundation. The local nonprofit provides social and recreational programs for children and families suffering from cancer and life-threatening illnesses.
Bowersock says a source of his inspiration is “Bartenders Giving Back” – an initiative he hopes to spread throughout the Roaring Fork Valley – and how a few of his bartending friends in Aspen responded to the April 2015 earthquake that devastated Nepal.
Bartenders at Justice Snow’s led a fundraising effort, in part using the tips they earned, for a nonprofit helping rebuild homes in Nepal. Two of the bartenders traveled to Nepal to build the longhouses, which Bowersock thought was “wild.”
Inspired and motivated by their commitment to help people, Bowersock was bartending at Hop’s Culture at the time and walked over to Justice Snow’s one night after work. He asked who was managing the fundraiser and donated every penny he earned in tips that day – $233 and change – to the cause.
“He looked up at me and said, ‘You just funded a longhouse that could house six to 10 people,’” Bowersock recalled. “I thought that was one of the coolest things.”
From then on, Bowersock was sold.
And while he recognizes that bartending in a ski town isn’t the most lucrative or “financially secure” of occupations, it’s a sacrifice he is happy to make.
“I always believe in helping others or people who really need it, and if that means giving up some of the other luxuries of life, I’m fine with that,” Bowersock said. “At least that’s my mentality toward that.”
Since the beginning of this year, Bowersock has donated more than $1,000 to nonprofits and causes. In January, it was $100 to benefit Protect Our Winters; from February to March, he gave $1,080 to the Children’s Hospital Colorado in Denver.
Bowersock’s latest mission is to help the Shining Stars Foundation. The philanthropist said he chose the local nonprofit to benefit because “we’ve all been afflicted by cancer.”
“Whether it be your mom, dad, brother, sister, friend,” he said, “I feel like everybody’s been touched by cancer in one shape or form.”
Bowersock, whose has completed his last shift of the season tending bar at the Chef’s Club, raised $3,100 for the organization since late June.
Shining Stars director of development Megan Bryant said the foundation is “blown away” by Bowersock’s ambition and dedication.
“Every time I talk to him he’s off to the next job. It means so much and it does have a huge impact,” Bryant said, noting that the foundation is small and therefore every dollar helps.
“He’s giving this money out of his pocket, and he works his butt off. It’s very humbling, when people do something like that, giving when it’s not easy,” she said. “And do it so joyfully like he does, he just does it with so much enthusiasm.”
Bowersock, who vowed to shave his head should he meet his goal, has no plans of slowing down.
“I think right now, in particular, Puerto Rico could use some help,” he said. “Wounded Warriors to help out veterans, and I would like to do something to help out with the refugee crisis.”
Along with his last shift behind the bar, Bowersock’s final effort to reach his $5,000 pledge to Shining Stars will take place at Hooch Craft Cocktail Bar on Oct. 23. From 7 p.m. to midnight, 100 percent of the bar’s sales and gratuity will benefit Shining Stars.
“This is not something that’s going to end anytime soon,” Bowersock said. “I’m going to keep on trying to help those who need help.”