Randy Rosens, Olympic Neighbors board member, serves wine in locally crafted ceramic tasting cups at Coldwell Bankers.

Randy Rosens, Olympic Neighbors board member, serves wine in locally crafted ceramic tasting cups at Coldwell Bankers.

Ceramic cups replace plastic, raise funds for Port Townsend nonprofit Olympic Neighbors

Almost 400 LaughinGnome creations purchased so far during Gallery Art Walk

PORT TOWNSEND — A potter, a nonprofit and a real estate company are working together to reduce the use of plastics in Port Townsend while raising funds for programs for people with developmental disabilities.

Since October 2018, Randy Rosens, board member of Olympic Neighbors, has spent every monthly Gallery Art Walk — which is the first Saturday of every month — at Coldwell Bankers/Best Homes in Port Townsend serving wine and convincing art goers to make a donation in exchange for a handcrafted, one of a kind, locally made and reusable ceramic wine tasting cup, said Claudia Coppola, program coordinator for Olympic Neighbors, which provides housing support for adults with developmental disabilities.

A donation of $10 to Olympic Neighbors will buy a person a reusable ceramic wine tasting cup made by Port Townsend pottery company LaughinGnome.

Almost 400 cups have been purchased, according to Coppola.

LaughinGnome owner and Rosens are dedicated to reducing the use of plastic in the community and at community events, they said.

“At every Gallery Walk, over 1,000 plastic cups are thrown into the trash,” Huffman said.

“I thought wouldn’t it be nice if we could slow down the plastic in the landfill.”

Said Rosens: “We’re both very passionate about getting plastic out of the waste stream.

During Gallery Walk, “historically, people go from gallery to gallery, get a plastic cup of wine, drink it, through it in the trash and go on to the next one.

“We thought, let’s just make this a win-win-win.

“People can support Olympic Neighbors, have their wine, have a nice piece of pottery and keep plastic out of the waste stream.”

Coppola said that Olympic Neighbors reached out to local shops and companies participating in Gallery Walk and received much support, but ultimately set up the project permanently in the Coldwell Bankers/Best Homes office.

The office at 234 Taylor St., routinely features an artist on the Port Townsend Gallery Walk.

It not only provides the cups but offers a “bottomless” glass of wine, Rosens said.

Dana Cordova, manager, and Karen Best, owner, “totally embraced the idea,” Rosens said.

Huffman said he provides the cups for a little over cost to ensure that it remains a worthwhile fundraiser.

He added that the unglazed ceramic cup “enhances the flavor of the beverage. It oxygenates the beverage and that function makes it taste better.”

The project is an offshoot of a program for summer’s Concerts on the Dock, Rosens said. In that program, ceramic cups are rented to those who attend the concerts. They put down a $5 deposit on each cup and the money is returned when they cup is given back.

Olympic Neighbors is a startup that just finished its first year, Coppola said.

More than a decade ago, a group of parents of children with developmental disabilities and others got together to figure out how to help people with such disabilities live good lives, Coppola said.

They decided to focus on housing.

A house was renovated and a state Department of Social and Health Services license was obtained and now Olympic Neighbors operates an adult home with 24-hour staff support.

The home houses six people; another six on are on a waiting list.

“Our hope is to continue to grow and provide more housing like this,” Coppola said.

The cups will be available at Coldwell Bankers during Saturday’s Gallery Walk in Port Townsend.

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Executive Editor Leah Leach can be reached at 360-417-3530 or at [email protected].

The ceramic cups are unglazed, a factor that creator Darby Huffman says enhances the flavor of any beverage poured into them.

The ceramic cups are unglazed, a factor that creator Darby Huffman says enhances the flavor of any beverage poured into them.

The ceramic cups made by LaughinGnome sell for a $10 donation to Olympic Neighbors.

The ceramic cups made by LaughinGnome sell for a $10 donation to Olympic Neighbors.

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