2012 Threads of Hope
A longtime volunteer pioneers an innovative new recycling program.
Las Trampas, inc.
Eric Rudney watches proudly as Ariel carefully drops tiny bottles of shampoo, conditioner, and lotion, and a wrapped soap inside a waxed-paper bag.
“I’ve made so many of these,” says Ariel, a young woman with developmental disabilities, who is a client at Las Trampas, Inc. She staples a card to the bag, which will be given to someone in need. Printed on the card is Las Trampas’ mission: to support adults with developmental disabilities, to discover their capabilities, and to help them lead full lives in their homes, at work, and in the community.
Rudney, a Danville resident and 20-year Las Trampas volunteer, came up with the Reuse, Recycle, Repeat gift bag idea while on vacation in Vietnam, where hotel shampoo comes in big bottles, not the American, miniature ones.
“I thought, ‘How many of those bottles just get thrown into the landfill?’ ” says Rudney, who realized it would be easy for Las Trampas’ clients to assemble the gift bags, which could then benefit other people. The Las Trampas staff loved the idea, and soon, adults from the program began volunteering their time to collect new and partially used bottles from the Claremont Hotel Club and Spa, Concord Hilton, Crowne Plaza Concord, Lafayette Park Hotel and Spa, and Walnut Creek Marriott. After assembling the toiletries into gift bags, they deliver them to East Bay nonprofits such as Shelter, Inc., and Monument Crisis Center.
“Our clients have assembled more than 1,000 of these bags since the program started,” says Ron Kilgore, associate executive director at Las Trampas. “They are really helping the community. We keep getting calls from people saying, ‘We need 400 more bags.’ ”
“It’s a win-win-win program,” says Rudney, who is making a video about Reuse, Recycle, Repeat to send to Las Trampas–type nonprofits across the country, especially in such tourist-heavy areas as Las Vegas.
Rudney’s philanthropic efforts extend far beyond his work with Las Trampas. He is the chair of the Foundation Board at Chabot Space and Science Center, and chair of the Leadership Council for the Family Heart and Nutrition Center at Children’s Hospital and Research Center Oakland, and is actively involved with the Wheelchair Foundation, Diablo Regional Arts Association, and Hospice of the East Bay.
“Giving back is what makes a community,” says Rudney. “I am simply trying to do my part.” —Peter Crooks