2023 Spring Appeal – Melissa’s Story

When Melissa gets on the bus to go to Las Trampas’ Day Program, she feels “joyful.” It’s a long ride from her group home in Concord, but “it’s worth it.”

As many of us enjoy loosened COVID restrictions, reopenings, and parties, our participants are equally grateful to go back to the new normal, and I am continually inspired by the resilience they have shown.

My friend Melissa, who is on the autism spectrum, has shown great resilience throughout her life. Her mother died of breast cancer when she was only five years old, and in 2017 her father died suddenly of a heart attack. Melissa’s aunt, Erin, brought her home to live with her in the Bay Area. She and Melissa are extremely close, but taking her in very unexpectedly and juggling a full-time job put Erin in a situation in which she urgently needed support. Erin feels so lucky that just a few weeks after Melissa joined Las Trampas’ waitlist, they received a call that there was an opening.

Melissa recalls that she started Las Trampas’ Adult Day Program on, “December 18th, 2017, a week before Christmas.” Erin was so happy that Melissa had a place to go and feel supported every day, while Erin worked and Melissa was grieving the death of her father. Going to Las Trampas, being with other people and in the community, learning skills like taking the bus, and continuing her development gave meaning to her days. Melissa’s resilience shone through.

Melissa had to be resilient again when COVID hit. She missed the self-esteem and pride she got from being given directions, following those directions, and earning spending money through Las Trampas’ janitorial program. Melissa also missed her Las Trampas friends and community, and asked every day when she could go back in person, 5 days a week.

Melissa was thrilled when Las Trampas brought all our participants back fulltime in October 2022. Through our new DISCOVER program, Melissa was able to select two classes to participate in “outings class” (Community Connections) and “work class” (Learning to Work). She’s so happy to get out more by “going to parks and the library” and “getting the place clean and earning money.” Melissa also loves to read cookbooks and food magazines, so she adores the new teaching kitchen, which will help her develop the cooking skills to support her to live independently one day.

As Erin states, “Las Trampas is not a babysitting program, it’s about supporting Melissa to reach her highest potential. Erin loves that the community outings let participants see parts of the world they might not be able to otherwise. “They’re also good for the community, she says, “they need to see that there are people who maybe don’t look like them, but have a lot of value to the community.

It is your support for Las Trampas that creates opportunities for our participants to reach their highest potential. You can support our friends and neighbors with disabilities by making -and doubling!- your gift today. In loving memory of Terry Haws, every gift received will be matched, up to $35,000.

Melissa wants people to know that Las Trampas is, “a good day program,” and that we need funding to, “take more outings, and buy more cleaning supplies, like Windex.” In addition to Windex, we need your help to bring on more participants, like Melissa, and restore our properties after the destructive winter storms.

We were so lucky to be able to accept Melissa into our program at such a crucial time in her life, but we now have a waitlist of 50 participants for our Adult Day Program. While our new facility provides the space we need for additional participants, we, like most direct-service nonprofits, are facing profound staffing challenges. We need additional resources for staff recruitment and retention, so we can bring more participants off our significant waitlist.

In addition to challenges with staffing, winter storms have caused significant damage to Las Trampas’ properties. The Las Trampas creek defines the sides of two of our properties. This past winter, the storms caused landslides that took out five linear feet of land and a fence at our Moraga Boulevard property, and collapsed a retention wall built to protect our main campus. These damages are costly and must be repaired.

Las Trampas has the expertise, facilities, and abiding commitment to meet this moment. However, community support is the key to making it possible for us to continue to provide the gold-standard services and safe facilities our participants deserve.

Will you make a gift to Las Trampas that is significant to you today? Your contribution will be doubled in loving memory of our founding father, Terry Haws, and will be put to good use immediately!

As always, thank you for your support,

Daniel Hogue

Executive Director