When the weight of the coronavirus hit the United States, fear was the first response—and reasonably so. Society settled into a routine of social distancing as cities around the country started seeing an increase in COVID-19 cases. Increasingly streets quieted and, unfortunately, jobs were lost.
Those who were able began looking for ways to help. Coldwell Banker’s corporate headquarters reached out to its franchise brokerages, letting firms know that if they could support their local communities in some way, now was the time.
“It’s times like this where giving back really counts,” says Coldwell Banker President and CEO Ryan Gorman. “Agents are natural connectors and are in a unique position to really serve their communities and create a sense of togetherness during this time. We want the essential workers, their families, and all of our neighbors in need to know how much we appreciate them and are here for them during this time.”
The hashtag #CBGoodNews has been used on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook by firms all over the country to feature local medical and other essential workers. Here are four other examples of how Coldwell Banker firms are supporting their communities.
Face Masks and Food Delivery
Medical workers have been facing shortages of face masks, still an ongoing problem in many areas. Shawn Guzzo, regional vice president of Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage Baltimore in Baltimore, found a local Facebook group that was dedicated to making face masks, and she decided to get in touch with the organizer, Julie Rosenthal.
“I connected with her and agreed to help organize since I can’t sew,” she says. At one point, the group had 9,000 requests from local medical facilities for masks. Luckily, says Guzzo, many people were ready to help.
“The Facebook group just kind of blew up,” she says. The group has about 1,600 volunteers who have provided more than 18,000 masks to hospitals, nursing homes, and first responders in the Greater Baltimore region. “We set up seven mask drop-off and supply pickup locations in Carroll County and a GoFundMe site that raised nearly $8,000 to purchase sewing supplies. In the process, we’ve helped other volunteers set up groups in Howard and Baltimore counties.”
But that isn’t all Guzzo is helping out with. She also helped create a food delivery chain for senior citizens in Eldersburg, Md.
“This started out as a way to help get groceries to my mother,” she says.
With her mother living in a 55+ community in Carroll County, Guzzo wanted to ease the risks the elderly face leaving their homes to pick up groceries and other necessities. Thus far, the group has 30 dedicated volunteers who shop for groceries, pick up prescriptions, and run important errands on Mondays and Thursdays.
“We will continue to do this well after things resemble a more ‘normal’ daily lifestyle,” Guzzo says. “It’s the right thing to do for so many who don’t have family or someone who lives in the region to check in on them.”
Feeding the Community
When Frank Obringer, real estate manager at Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage in Dallas–Ft. Worth, Texas, heard that his church would be putting on a food drive for his community, he decided to join in. Many other local Coldwell Banker real estate agents, he said, are members of the Elevate Life Church. He also shared the effort on his Facebook business page in an effort to encourage other community members to join in.
Their first drive was such a success that the church planned another for Easter Sunday. Obringer shared the results again on his Facebook page, stating that more than 400 bags of food were collected, which was enough to feed around 1,200 people over the course of three days. After the success of the Easter drive, the community decided to keep the effort going each weekend.
“In my community of Frisco, we’ve had about 400 families come through so far,” Obringer says. “We don’t know how long this [pandemic] will last. But we’re going to continue to help.”
Thanking Health Care Workers
Medical professionals and restaurant employees are two groups of workers experiencing tough realities during the pandemic. Even as states began opening back up, Kevin Reddington, ABR, SRS, wanted to find a way to help out both groups.
One of his family members who’s a nurse wrote a Facebook post thanking a neighborhood group for sending sandwiches to the hospital. That gave Reddington, an agent with Coldwell Banker Preferred in Blue Bell, Pa., the idea of having food delivered to a couple of local hospitals in his area. This, he says, would show gratitude to his community’s local health care workers and support local restaurants. Reddington then reached out to his 130-agent team for support.
“We’d already been talking about what we could do. I knew I wanted this support to go directly to the people doing the work, so I asked my team if they wanted to buy food for those who are really in the trenches—the doctors and the nurses working the floors that are at the center of this crisis,” he says.
His team, Reddington said, really pulled through. Together they raised enough money to send about 35 pizzas and salads to two local hospitals. “I called up two local pizzerias that not only discounted the food but hand-delivered it to the hospitals as well.”
The first round of deliveries went so well, Reddington and his team decided to do it again.
Providing Necessities to the Front Lines
During showings, many agents use disposable shoe covers in an effort to protect the home. These covers help contain any dirt or debris that might be on the bottoms of shoes, thus protecting the flooring in the home. These shoe covers also happen to be used for sanitary purposes in hospitals—and in some areas, they are in short supply.
After hearing about the shortage of personal protective equipment health care workers have been facing during the pandemic, Laura Semple and Beth Hettrich of The Semple & Hettrich Team in Sudbury, Mass., decided to act. Semple called a former client—an executive at one of her local hospitals.
“I just called her up and asked her if these shoe covers were needed,” Semple says.
Semple and Hettrich then devised a plan to get the shoe coverings to the hospital. Semple created a PPE collection drive flyer, which included information on where and when agents could drop off new, unused shoe coverings.
In total, they collected nearly 500 shoe coverings, all of which were donated to Emerson Hospital in Concord, Mass., to be used by members of its medical staff.
The only certainty at the moment is that things will continue to evolve and change as the pandemic continues to color the nation’s reality. Looking out for those who are helping provides a little positivity during a scary and unwonted time.