For 22 years, Scott Matthias traveled annually to Mexico with a group of family and friends to build schools and homes for those in need. But when the COVID-19 pandemic forced international borders to close, his trips were put on hold. Matthias, CRS, GRI, an agent with Madison & Company Properties in Greenwood Village, Colo., was suddenly left to find a new cause to support that he could access closer to home. It was a former Good Neighbor who inspired Matthias’ next move.
He learned about Vickie Lobo, a 2020 winner of the National Association of REALTORS®’ Good Neighbor Awards, while watching a playback of that year’s ceremony. Lobo, an agent with Einstein Realty in Upland, Calif., founded a nonprofit called Knock Knock Angels, which helps to furnish homes for people who are getting back on their feet after experiencing homelessness. “Tears ran down both mine and my wife’s faces,” Matthias recalls. “We were beyond inspired by Vickie. I called her the next day to congratulate her and ask if she would mind me doing something similar in Colorado. She said it was her dream to have [her organization] spread across the country.”
To help get Knock Knock Angels Colorado off the ground, Lobo provided Matthias with a startup kit and helped arrange for the organization’s 501c3 status. Matthias partners with local housing nonprofits that provide transitional homes for the homeless. Those nonprofits rely on Matthias and his team to furnish the homes. Lobo helped Matthias with the first project, and within a year, Knock Knock Angels Colorado furnished 20 homes.
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Aside from providing a comfortable home, Matthias says his organization’s work, in some cases, helps restore people’s faith in humanity. The first recipient of a home that Knock Knock Angels Colorado furnished was a Marine name James, who had been homeless for eight years. Matthias remembers when he and his wife met James for the first time. “He kept looking us both in the eye, trying to gain trust in us,” Matthias recalls. “He finally said, ‘Excuse me for not getting excited, but I have been let down my whole life and have a hard time trusting anyone.’”
While experiencing homelessness, James isolated himself and would often fight with others, which would get him kicked out of the tent villages where he was staying. A member of the Knock Knock Angels Colorado team took James out for breakfast and to the barber shop one day while Matthias and a few others transformed the apartment where James found housing. They furnished each room with care, and when James walked in, he couldn’t believe what he saw. “He took a swan dive on his bed when we did the reveal of his new apartment,” Matthias says, adding that James now gets along with the other tenants in his building.
The need for the type of service Knock Knock Angels Colorado provides is great, Matthias says. In some cases, people in transitional housing sleep on the floor for months—even up to a year—before they receive a proper bed. The issue is only getting worse as the housing affordability crisis and inflation complicate people’s personal situations.“Denver has now become the fifth most expensive city in the United States,” Matthias says, making his team’s work more important than ever. Matthias believes he’s perfectly positioned as a real estate professional to provide help. “We deal with housing every day with our clients, and many of them have items they can donate to furnish our recipients’ homes. I am a firm believer that you get by giving, and this is a fantastic way to give back to my community.”