Terri’s Story – Spring Appeal 2024

June 2024

Dear Friends,

Terri’s life has changed a lot in the 7 years she’s been living with her three Las Trampas roommates on a quaint cul-de-sac in Pleasant Hill.

Before she came to Las Trampas, Terri lived for twenty years in Sonoma Developmental Center, initially established in 1891 as an institution for the “feebleminded.” In 2016, the State of California finally decided to end the segregation of people with disabilities by closing the state institutions and including people with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD) in their communities. Las Trampas Caregiver, Kerri, went to visit Terri in Sonoma and helped her move into Sheila House, one of our two community homes in Pleasant Hill. Kerri remembers the institution as a hospital-like setting in great juxtaposition with the beauty of the location. “It was a scary place, with dirty clients walking around aimlessly. There was only one room for clients to hangout in, and they were not encouraged to do anything during the day,” shares Kerri.

Now Terri has her own room with a desk and TV, her own space for her belongings, and she has a new glow and lust for life. She loves going to the Concord farmer’s market on Tuesdays and dancing at senior centers on Fridays, she loves coloring and painting, and most of all, she loves taking care of Kerri’s dog, Ash, whom she walks, brushes, and feeds. A nurse comes to the house every week to measure Terri’s blood pressure and weight, and she even helps a dietician create their weekly meal plan. Terri’s brother Mike shares, “It’s nice for her to finally be in a house in a nice neighborhood with a backyard (compared to Sonoma which was depressing). It is amazing how clean and orderly the house is.”

This is why I’m asking for your support, to ensure that people with intellectual and developmental disabilities can thrive in homes integrated into our community.

Terri did not receive enough oxygen when she was born, and as a result, her behaviors resemble those of a four-year-old. At Sonoma Developmental Center, the staff told Kerri that Terri needed a Coke before bed every night or she would have a screaming fit, and warned her about Terri’s aggressive behaviors and stealing. But within three months of moving in with her Sheila House family, those behaviors disappeared. The staff at Las Trampas have helped Terri improve her communication skills by asking her questions, and now she can have a conversation instead of just repeating words. Terri is learning to do her own laundry, and she helps with the grocery shopping every week. It’s incredible how much progress a person can make when they have the opportunity for choice and community living!

Las Trampas creates opportunities for our participants to achieve their highest independence and potential. You can support our friends and neighbors with disabilities by making a gift today!

Mike loves that the staff at Las Trampas spend so much one-on-one time with Terri. Kerri shared that most of the staff have been at Sheila House as long as Terri has, and this consistency creates a sense of trust for participants and helps cut down on negative behaviors. They’re a family. When everyone in the house (staff and participants alike) had COVID, Las Trampas employee of the year, Cheryl, practically lived at the house and worked 24-hour shifts to make sure the ladies received the care they needed.

Not wanting to break up the family, we’ve recently transitioned Sheila House into a Residential Care Facility for the Elderly (RCFE). Terri and her friends would have legally aged out of Sheila House at age sixty, and would have needed to find alternate housing. Mike is happy that Las Trampas converted to an RCFE so Terri can continue to live in the home she loves. “It is great to see a problem solved before it needs solving” shared Mike. “People get older, and need a place to go when their parents or siblings can’t give them that home life…we found the best for Terri, and we feel very lucky.”

We at Las Trampas feel very lucky to have such dedicated staff, like Kerri and Cheryl, and the whole Sheila House Team. However, low government reimbursement rates make it difficult to offer competitive wages that attract people with their passion and dedication, especially now that the minimum wage for fast food workers is higher than that for caregivers. We were promised a modest increase in caregiver wages starting in July 2024, but in the Governor’s recent budget proposal, he has delayed rate increases by another year. In order to ensure that we can continue to recruit and retain the best caregivers, we have set an ambitious goal to raise $60,000 this spring.

Will you make a gift to Las Trampas that is significant to you today? Your contribution will make possible the sense of home and stability that our participants deserve, fully integrated into our community. As always, thank you for your support.

With Gratitude,

Daniel Hogue

Executive Director

P.S. Your gift supports adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities to reach their highest potential and build a sense of belonging in our community. Please give as generously as you can. Your contribution will be put to good use immediately!