One sanitation engineer makes a difference to the communities he serves

KOLD 10 p.m. - VOD - clipped version

TUCSON, Ariz. (KOLD News 13) - In several neighborhoods in Oro Valley near Golf View Drive, garbage day is special.

"We all look forward to it. All of us.” said resident Claire Damore

The man who makes it that way is sanitation engineer Rene Luera.

“They take care of you and you do the best you can for them,” Luera said.

For 28 years he’s gone down these streets, picking up green bins but putting down roots on some beautiful friendships.

“Hearing his horn and his big truck coming down — I know he’s going to say something nice and give us that big smile and make my kids happy,” Damore said.

He makes time to stop and say hello when he can.

Kristen Julia shared her experience with Luera as well.

“He has become the highlight of our week and my toddler boys adore him," she said. "He brings them treats and checks on us all the time! We made this for him today.”

Now on his route, he brings along more than just a smile.

“I ask, how are you doing on toilet paper?” Luera said.

It’s a simple question that would seem silly on a normal day. But these aren’t normal times and Luera isn’t a normal guy.

"They had it at Circle K I was there at 4:30 in the morning and I go ‘oh hey toilet paper, grab some!’”

His own family had plenty, but he knew others might not be as fortunate.

“People were astonished. Some have started crying and it’s like wow — you’re doing something good,” Luera said.

Luera's way of doing good doesn’t come as a shock to anyone.

“That doesn’t surprise me at all that’s perfect for him,” Damore said.

And for him, it’s simply second nature.

“Little things you can do for somebody, it’s awesome,” he said.

He never throws away a chance to show how everyone can make their day special.

"Share. Don’t be such in an uproar. Not about yourself, think about your neighbor," said Luera.

Waste Management officials said that’s just the kind of guy Luera is: Someone who’s always willing to help.

They also released what they are doing to stay safe during this time.

“In recent days, Waste Management has taken significant steps to institute changes and safeguards for our teams and the communities we serve. Most of these changes are focused on social-distancing. Collection drivers, such as Rene, spend the vast majority of their workday (about 90 percent) alone in their truck collecting trash or recycling but are taking additional precautions, such as going straight from their personal cars to their WM trucks and not entering our buildings.”


Our drivers have a lot of young fans out there. Kids are enamored with the trucks and our customers often get to know our drivers. In the past, drivers may have gotten out of their truck to interact with the kids who are eager to greet them. Now they will be waving from the truck or interacting from a safe distance.

Waste Management Area Director of Collection Operations, David Brannon: “Our teams are doing an exceptional job during this difficult time. We are a process driven company and the processes have changed. Our teams understand the need and importance of the changes and are readily adopting the new protocols. We commend them for their dedication and the pride in their work – which is ultimately helping to keep the community clean and safe.”

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