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The Amazing Adventures of Amy and Jeff

Las Trampas client Jeff and his sister Amy overcame their obstacles to enjoy the summer trip of a lifetime together. Any recounts their trip and reveals how she makes every minute count for both her and her brother.

Just this past summer, my brother Jeff and I went on a couple of great trips. Jeff slept most of the way through our flight, after figuring out how to use the fold down tray for his favorite drink in the world wait for it, COFFEE!

At the beginning of our journey in the Hudson Valley, my brother, Cliff, picked up our tents at REI. From that point on, we began our camping adventure which lasted the entire 3-day, 3-night festival – something Jeff had never experienced before. The nights were dark and it was hard to find the porta potties, but Jeff and I did pretty well. He slipped and fell once though which prompted me to ask myself: would he do better with a wheel chair?

img_4569On our way to the Falcon Ridge Festival, my brother Cliff picked up his tent at REI which was at the beginning of the Hudson Valley. Jeff and I camped all through the festival for 3 days and 3 nights, something we had never had before. You can tell from the photos that he really embraced the hot days filled with trekking back and forth to camp. He was a real champ.

Public transport can be a challenge. For instance, you always have to take the stairs to the subway. Moving down the aisle of an airplane can be a challenge as well. It is getting more and more difficult to get a “handicapped” seat on a plane, so I always get a seat at the back, closest to the bathroom. Another challenge, Bathroom accidents. I always carry diaper wipes and extra underwear and pants. New York City in general is tough as it is an older city with uneven sidewalks (I’m always on the look-out for “trip factors”, stairs, doorways that have awkward steps, etc.)

jess-shipI think Jeff really enjoys the fact that he doesn’t have to be in a wheelchair however, now I always request a wheelchair at the airport. When we go to Disneyland or Universal Studios we always rent a wheelchair. I have noticed that as Jeff gets older, he moves slower, so we always allow a lot of extra time. Lighter shoes help (crocs are great), easier for his paralyzed side.

We played and swam in the Atlantic Ocean on Long Beach Island and on the bay side of Cape Cod, in the Lakes in Vermont and the hotel pool. I see my brother in the water and it hits me, he can glide through the water weightlessly. What a wonderful feeling for my brother who has Cerebral Palsy.

We visited friends, drank beer together, and picked raspberries. We managed to have a family vacation, after which we all loved one other even more than before.
My advice to other families traveling with a loved one with special needs is to plan ahead. Check in often with your loved ones as new environments can be intimidating. Jeff’s social skills are lacking, he often gets very shy, looks down, that sort of thing. So, we practice “greetings, saying his name, etc.” We make sure to rest well.

Jeff was most impressed with the fact we had camped in a cow field. He said now I can check that off my bucket list.” Me too, now that I think about it.

Latest News!

Thank You for Joining Us!

Thanks to the 340 people who attended the annual What’s in our Hat? event this year including the National Charity League and the Clipped Wings and their friends who helped us make the day a success.
We could not hold this event without the long tradition of their dedicated support.  Stay tuned for more details about the annual Walk n Roll on September 24th!

Angel Campaign 2015

angel campaign 2015
As 2015 comes to a close, we want to take a moment to say Thanks to YOU, our donors, volunteers, business partners, board members, and the Las Trampas families.
We are grateful every day for your belief in, and support of, the challenging work we do. Your encouragement in words and generosity sustain not only our operations, but our ongoing commitment to expanding opportunities for every individual with developmental disabilities, regardless of the challenges they may face.
We hope you will continue to be part of our vision. Together, we can make a difference for everyone.
Thank you… again!

Giving Tuesday

December 1st was national Giving Tuesday, during which nonprofits speak with one voice to express their immense gratitude for all the ways volunteers, community partners and donors support us.
It’s a time at Las Trampas when we share one story of how your generosity gives voice, literally, to individuals like Danny and so many others. Challenged with cerebral palsy, Danny still loves kicking the soccer ball, jiving to music and sharing his broad smile with everyone. He may not speak words but his always beaming face speaks volumes.
 Soon, thanks to assistive technology recently acquired with   your donor dollars, he may be able to do both. Innovative   icon software loaded onto a laptop will enable Danny to   “speak” for the first time by selecting icons and phrases,   then the laptop gives audible voice to his thoughts. Imagine   what this means to someone as gregarious and people-   loving as Danny. Yes, for the first time, Danny will be able   to participate in a shared conversation!
 This is just one story but Danny’s life “speaks” for     many others. At Las Trampas, where 80% of our folks are   non or minimally verbal, expanding our assistive   technology capacity will empower others to find their own   voices. Your year-end gift will enable more than just one of our folks to “speak their minds.” We all know words matter. No more so than for those previously kept silent.
Please make a year-end gift so Danny and his Las Trampas colleagues can audibly raise their voices to express their heartfelt thanks for a gift that will change their lives.
Thank you!

VISTAS Lafayette Quarterly Newsletter

Non-Profit Profile: Las Trampas
Steve Falk, City Manager
VISTAS City-wide Quarterly Newsletter

You may never have seen it but discretely hidden behind several lovely Moraga Boulevard homes, on 3.5 quiet acres, lies one of Lafayette’s greatest treasures: Las Trampas, Inc. If, as it has been said, our society will be judged by how we treat the least among us, Las Trampas is our exemplar, our light, our polestar, because the sole purpose for this amazing organization is to help those who need the most help.

What began in 1958 as a school for children with profound disabilities has evolved into a complex and busy nonprofit that provides everything from job training skills to independent and semi-independent living. The organization manages licensed group homes, supported living services and vocational and developmental services, and currently serves ninety -seven adults.

“Our philosophy is to integrate people into the community as much as possible,” says Development Director Kathy Merchant. While some clients live with caregivers, other live independently in one of our residences. They come here during the day for activities, and we support them in their everyday life.”

Las Trampas folks give back to their community. Among other efforts, they help make blankets for Children’s Hospital, keep local parks clean and green, and collect unused sundries from local hotels which they clean, repackage and deliver to Contra Costa homeless shelters.

Community integration has, indeed, been critical to Las Trampas’ sustainability, and several generations of Lafayette residents have stepped forward to support the organization. There’s another opportunity to do so this year, and it will be pure fun, all for a great cause. You can support Las Trampas by attending the 8th Annual What’s in Our Hat? fundraiser at the Lafayette Park Hotel & Spa on Sunday, April 27, 3:00-6:30 PM. Tickets are $100, and available at (925) 284-1462 or

Your dollars will fund this vital Lafayette resource that enables individuals with autism and other developmental disabilities to expand their horizons and lead full, active lives in the community. They are our neighbors, our friends, maybe our own family members.

Original article here.

Hats Off to a Great Event!


The suspense is over, the numbers are in and thanks to so many of you who supported by gift or attendance our 27th Annual What’s in Our Hat? aka Luck Be A Lady? it looks like we exceeded $120,000, but numbers are still coming in so stay tuned!

We’ve waited to send a special Thank You so that we could share this great news. As you know, these dollars are a vital link in filling the gap between operational costs and government reimbursement for services.
We tip our Hat
To the generosity of our Sponsors and Ambassadors, Hat drawing underwriter Eric Rudney, auction donors and participants, business and in-kind partners, community and staff volunteers and beloved Clipped Wings, the Hat Committee (with a special bow to the extraordinary decorations designer Pat Todd and her sidekick Dana Longyear), photographer Ian Craig,

To our entertainers Mark Shaw (Sinatra), Matt Helm (Dean Martin) and magician Alan Leeds, and the always generous-in-time-and-talent Generations in Jazz (High Five Cayford and Bob Athayde),
To Terry Haws who proposed the theme, to the gifted program creator Pamela Berding and graphic designer John Otto.

And to our dedicated Board of Directors and each and every one of you who provide support and encouragement as Las Trampas works to deliver the highest quality programs and services.

Thank You!!

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Click here to view our Hats Off album photos.


Friends are angels who lift our feet when our own wings have trouble remembering how to fly. 

Hearts and wings are aflutter at Las Trampas this time of year. With heartfelt excitement, our folks got an early jump on the holidays, with decorations and a tree going up the minute the calendar switched to December!

Everyone joined in, whether as decorators or “supervisors.” Such is the excitement around every holiday at Las Trampas.
Now, as our friends and supporters, we invite YOU to join the party! Your “invitation” is winging its way to your home mailbox in the form of our year-end Angel Campaign brochure. Every year this is an important moment for us, because the dollars we raise from the Angel Campaign help sustain the vocational and enrichment programs that build each individual’s competency and self-esteem. Your gift to the Angel Campaign is so important. Please consider a gift today, by returning the envelope attached to the brochure or online HERE.
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There is no place like home for the holidays…

So true for our Supported Living and Residential Homes folks who once again enjoyed delicious Thanksgiving dinners, thanks to a generous grant from the Volunteer Center of the East Bay. For a week we heard, “When is the Turkey coming” in hungry anticipation. Speaking for all diners, Lisa exclaimed as she spotted the bird, “FINALLY, it’s here! And stuffing, that’s my favorite!”

As part of Share the Spirit, sponsored by the Volunteer Center of the East Bay and Bay Area News Group, we hope you caught the fabulous front page news article in Sunday’s Contra Costa Times (December 7th) in which our superstars (l to r) Russell, Michael and Les talk about what they love about Las Trampas.If you missed it, check out our website for a great read.
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