Bringing the Homeless Home – a KW RED Day Experience
Renew, Energize, and Donate, these are core values of Keller Williams’ national RED Day. Each year on the second Thursday of May, Keller Williams celebrates RED Day as a part of our legacy worth leaving behind. As Chair for the KW Cares Committee, Austin Portfolio Real Estate agent Shannon Schmitz had the honor of planning the Southwest Market Center’s day of giving back this year.
“For the second year in a row, we were able to partner with Community First! Village,” Shannon says. “270 volunteer members strong this year, we’re the largest group they’ve ever worked with. We love their missions, we enjoy the work we get to do with them, and we will be back again next year.”
Community First! Village is a 27-acre master planned community development of Mobile Loaves & Fish. The transformative residential program provides affordable, permanent housing and a supportive community for the disabled, chronically homeless in Central Texas.
Also a member of the KW Agent Leadership Council, or ALC, Shannon was involved in the decision to raise enough money to purchase one housing trailer for a Community First! resident. After raising the $32,500 needed to purchase the trailer, Keller Williams’ COO Mary Tennant matched that amount, which allowed ALC to purchase two trailers, thus, giving two new residents a home off of the streets.
When asked what she’d like others to know about Community First! Village, Shannon says, “Bringing people from homeless to home is a wonderful feeling. Their level of gratitude to not be on the streets anymore is amazing. Having a home makes them feel like they have a purpose again, and that’s important. They have an incredible gift shop with items made by residents. Everything from flowers in vases, cutting and cheese boards hand-crafted in their wood working shop, paintings, and items made from forged iron. It’s just incredible work.”
During the half day of volunteering, 27 Austin Portfolio real estate agents participated in work such as mulching, cooking, painting, building decks, cleaning, stringing lights, and adding skirting around the two new trailers Keller Williams was able to purchase for the new residents.
As far as what she learned working alongside her own Schmitz & Smith team, Shannon says, “We can overcome a challenge, we have a willingness to help, and we are most successful when we divide our tasks based on strengths.” And when it comes to what she learned about her fellow Austin Portfolio real estate agents during their time together, she says “This is real life. These are things we all do; giving back to our community is a common theme among all of us. It was really nice to have us all working together to do work for others.”
The other Austin Portfolio agents who assisted at RED Day had similar experiences to share.
Susan Avant: I love that KW is committed to community service and we were able to participate locally at Community First. Working with our resident mulching fruit trees was so much fun. It was also fun to visit with my good friend who is the Capital Campaign mgr for Mobile Loaves and Fishes and my client who works for Community First!
Kathleen Bucher: It was so rewarding volunteering at Community First. Giving back to your community is so important and I am a huge believer of “We live here so We give here.” It’s the opportunity to help others that are less fortunate in life that gives me such joy. What I learned about Community First was that the sense of community and family they share there after being homeless is what brings them to a level of success and growth that allows them to rebuild their lives. It’s such a gift for them to have this place to call home. When we were there they asked us to paint screen doors for many of the homes and it was great working with other agents and enjoying the team work to accomplish what we set out to do—help.
Ana Swanson: The Ana Luxury Homes Team worked on cutting, building, sanding and painting picnic tables for the community. Community First Village is a miracle here in Austin. Being able to not only contribute manual labor on RED Day but to also be a part of raising enough money for not only one but TWO new RVs for the community was truly amazing.
Shannon Schmitz & Morgan Smith: The Schmitz & Smith Group had the pleasure of planting flowers throughout the community. We feel very fortunate to use our platform as Realtors® to bring awareness to issues such as homelessness in the Austin area. We learned a lot about how the Community First Village deals with residual trauma that the members of the community face on a daily basis. The Community goes beyond providing shelter by offering support with overcoming addiction, abandonment, loss, and gaining independence. Our profession allows us to help people find homes every day; and we will certainly continue to volunteer with Community First to help them in their mission to bring the homeless home!
Jeannette Spinelli: Keller Williams RED Day is an amazing experience to be a part of! It always reminds our group how lucky we are to be a part of the KW family. This year, we worked alongside the residents of Community First Village where we helped with landscaping and design at various locations throughout the Community. Our planters were hand-made by residents who worked at the Community Forge and Woodshop. It was awesome to team up with other Austin Portfolio Real Estate agents and get to know them better on a personal level.
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