Thrifters, at least those who frequent Assistance League Way Side Inn Thrift Shop, located at 3521 Golden Gate Way in Lafayette, typically find items neatly arranged on racks, shelves, and in display cases. Occasionally, they hear activity behind “the closed door,” where member volunteers receive, sort, size, and price very much appreciated donations. A bell sounds from the front of the shop, announcing customers’ arriving and departing. As the day goes on, member volunteers replace purchased items with new “finds.” But what happens to those items that are not purchased, i.e., the discards? Surely, they’re not all thrown away. Surely, someone, somewhere, could find a use for whatever did not sell.
William Alladaye is that "someone." Born in Benin, William left his home as a young man to study English and German at university in Africa. In 1990, his uncle persuaded him to come to the United States and continue his studies. On a return trip to Benin, William worked in the port city of Cotonou, where he saw that clothing was in great demand. Witnessing people pulling clothing from bundles stacked on the pier inspired William to become involved immediately upon his return to the United States.
As owner of a commercial janitorial service, William approached one of his accounts, which just happened to be Assistance League Way Side Inn Thrift Shop, and asked its volunteer members to help him with his endeavor. He asked if he could take usable items not sold at the thrift shop and send them to Benin, where they would find new life. Networking took on a higher meaning when William coordinated the financing, administering, hands-on transporting and distributing of badly needed clothing in 35,000 pound increments to Benin's more remote areas.
William's innovation of renewing discards not only satisfied a basic need for those living in a West African country about which some of us know very little; it replaced despair with hope and apathy with "Caring and Commitment in Action." Small wonder that William Alladaye received Assistance League of Diablo Valley’s "Making a Difference" Award.
To learn more about Assistance League of Diablo Valley, recipient of the Contra Costa Lifetime Achievement Award, and its eight philanthropic programs, visit its website: diablovalley.assistanceleague.org