This post has been running around in my head for a couple weeks now. You’ll see why as you read further.
In mid-August I was in Austin, TX, the home of Keller Williams. I went to learn how to run an office, as I am one of the core group of people who joined the Spokane Keller Williams office as the first step in opening a Tri-Cities office (Keller Williams calls them Market Centers instead of offices, for point of reference).
A little background: Every major brokerage with which I have been affiliated has had a philanthropic arm. Windermere has the Windermere Foundation, which helps with low income or homeless families in different communities. A portion of my commission was used by the Windermere Foundation in that effort. As I recall, I didn’t have a choice in that. They took it out of my commission checks and I made my budget with that in mind, knowing that that small portion would be gone. I had no personal problem with that, although I don’t think charity should be compulsory.
At RE/MAX, I could actually choose whether I wanted to participate or not in their philanthropic efforts. I had a portion of each sales commission check I received go towards the Children’s Miracle Network. That felt wonderful, because I was helping ailing kids and their families, and that always touches any parent on a personal level.
When I joined Keller Wiliams, I learned about KW Cares, which has the tagline, “Family helping family.” I didn’t know what it really meant, where the money went to, so I didn’t donate anything at first.
In Austin, I learned where KW Cares money goes. It’s “a 501(c)(3) public charity created to support Keller Williams associates and their families with hardship as a result of a sudden emergency. Hardship is defined as a difficult circumstance that a person or family cannot handle without outside help….”
While there, I heard a story from a leader at a Market Center impacted by Hurricane Katrina. (Remember, at the time I heard this story, that was one of the greatest natural disasters to have hit the U.S. and we had no way of knowing that just ten days later, the Texas gulf coast would be hit with the far-more-devastating Hurricane Harvey.) He said that, immediately following Hurricane Katrina, someone from KW Cares called him and, in a charming Texas accent, said, “Now, darlin’, don’t you worry about a thing….” Every Keller Williams associate in the affected area would receive a salary until they could get back to work, selling houses.
I was blown away. We make our living selling houses. What happens when there are no houses standing left to sell? Or no habitable homes left to sell? A real estate agent cannot make a living. KW Cares made sure that life could continue for those agents, that their families wouldn’t suffer, and — when the market was ready to go again — those agents would still be in the business, so they could get back to doing what they love.
Another gentleman stood up and told the following story: He had worked for KW for a few years, then left for a while, then returned. Within his first week back at work at KW, he learned his teenage daughter had cancer. KW Cares called him and asked, “What do you need?” He protested, “Hey, maybe you think I’ve been here this whole time. I went away, and I’ve only been back a few days.” The KW Cares representative said, “No, truly, tell us what you need…”
Matthew 6:4 (NLT) reads like this: “Give your gifts in private, and your Father, who sees everything, will reward you.” Meaning, we shouldn’t shout it from the rooftops, “I GAVE X MILLION DOLLARS AWAY!!!” And because KW’s company values are God first, then family, then business, I’m sure that’s why these stories aren’t widely known.
I left Austin more proud than ever to be a part of this spectacular company.