Vice Chairman of the Board Mo Anderson welcomed guests and emphasized that the third statement in the Keller Williams mission statement, “Lives worth living,” is what really sets us apart. “It makes us unique,” she said. “It binds us together. It creates a culture of family and it solidifies the bond that we have with one another. Together, we have changed the face of the real estate industry with our one-of-a-kind culture.”
Doing the Right Thing
The first inspirational story of the morning was about righting a wrong even when you are not the cause of the wrong. Carson Alexander, a Keller Williams agent in the New York City (N.Y.) market center, was a victim of identity theft. As a result, two unsuspecting New York residents were defrauded out of $2,000- their four months worth of savings. A criminal posed as Carson and “leased” a non-existent apartment to Andrea Dempsey and her daughter, Brittany. Dempsey wired the down payment to the person she thought was Carson and when she showed up with a moving van, there was no apartment available. Dempsey and her daughter have been living in a shelter while they save up another down payment for an apartment. At the Inspirational Brunch, Dempsey and Carson met for the first time in person. Dempsey also learned that Carson is going to help her find an apartment and that Keller Williams and that Keller Williams will cover the down payment and first six months rent.
Win Win: Or No Deal
As the starting center for the St. Louis Rams, Jason Brown signed a 5-year, $37 million contract. He walked away mid-contract to pursue his dreams of being a farmer and feeding his community. At the age of 27, which is the age his brother was when he died while serving in Iraq, Brown had an epiphany that he wasn’t focusing on the right things in life. With zero experience in farming, Brown left his 11,000 sq. ft. mansion and moved to a 1,000 acre farm in North Carolina. Brown formed his charitable organization, First Fruits Harvest, which not only donates the actual harvest, but also donates seeds to other communities and spreads awareness about growing your own food. With his very first crop, Brown donated 119,000 lbs. of sweet potatoes. Anderson, a farmer’s daughter from Oklahoma with a deep appreciation for farming and feeding communities, donated $10,000 to Brown for his seed project. “This will feed a lot of people,” he exclaimed.
Commitment in All Things
McLain Hermes, the 14-year-old daughter of Keller Williams associate Matt Hermes of the Atlanta – Sugarloaf (Ga.) market center, started a charity when she was only 8 and did it with the relentless commitment she applies to all things in her life. That same year, McLain started losing her vision and today has no vision in her left eye and only 8 percent vision in her right. But that hasn’t stopped her from being anything less than amazing. McLain is a competitive swimmer – the top-ranked American swimmer in her category – and hopes to qualify for the 2016 Paralympics. In addition to competitive swimming, McLain is a philanthropist changing lives in her community. She started a charity called Shoes for Souls to collect shoes to deliver to the Atlanta Mission. Although McLain started the charity before the onset of her degenerative eye condition, she didn’t stop when her vision changed. “My eyes are what they are but people still need shoes,” she said.
McClain shared a handwritten list with Anderson of the things she wants to experience in life before she loses her eyesight completely. Among the items are riding a Segway (“You know, like a mall cop!”) and traveling to Italy. Anderson announced she’d arranged for McClain to go on a Segway tour of Orlando the next morning. More important, Anderson said that with the help of Keller Williams partners Stevens Van Lines, Build a Sign, and Office Depot, McClain and her family are going to Italy, where they will enjoy a personal tour from one of the world’s best tour guides.
This year’s Bob Carter Award recipient was Christian Jelmberg of La Quinta, Calif., for his support of the Street Life Project. “Your selfless contributions have touched the lives of so many and your desire to help the less fortunate has resulted in giving those individuals a life worth living,” Anderson said. Anderson invited Kyle Dillingham to the stage to perform Amazing Grace on a violin for Jelmberg. But this wasn’t just any violin. Dillingham shared his story about how he recovers abandoned and broken musical instruments and revives their beautiful sounds. Dillingham and Jelmberg’s actions are an inspiration to find the beauty in everything, even if it seems broken. Beauty is all around. You just have to look for it.
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