Coldwell Banker Schmitt Charitable Foundation
Mini Season Mega Yard Sale Slated for Saturday, July 31
In a rural, tightly knit community like the Florida Keys, it’s become abundantly clear that one social service or charitable organization likely does not exist without the other.
When a homeless man makes his way to Independence Cay for a hot meal and a shower, house manager Dale Baker may point him to Marj Roberts at KAIR for help repairing his bicycle tire.
When a woman and her child seek safety from a violent household at the Domestic Abuse Shelter, Venita Garvin-Valdez and her staff can recommend the family for financial assistance to relocate out of the Florida Keys, safer and close to family.
The Coldwell Banker Schmitt Charitable Foundation is one of the organizations that could help provide such financial assistance.
Board Chairman Arline Lafferty Wallace said the foundation was formed in 2002, and they often work in conjunction with the Guidance Clinic, Salvation Army, and FKEC Foundation to help residents across the community.
“As a company, we wanted to give back to the people that have been the focus of our business,” Wallace elaborated.
Each month, the foundation board receives anywhere from 15 to 30 applications for assistance. The first and one of the most important criteria is that applicants must be residents.
“The application process includes listing of references, job and rental history,” Wallace continued, adding that due diligence is conducted with each application. “We also check with all the other agencies in town to make sure their stories are valid.”
Wallace, Treasurer Marsha Martin, and Board Member Wanda Brock admit that some applications prove questionable.
“Some cases are beyond our capabilities,” Brock confessed. “If someone is five months behind with their rent, it doesn’t do any good for us to provide one month of rental assistance.”
The triumphant stories, however, far outweigh the heartbreaking ones.
Brock recounted a recent case in which a resident had lost his teeth while being treated for cancer. The man found himself unemployed but still desired to work. The foundation was able to provide financial assistance for the gentleman to receive dental work that eventually led to him finding a job.
Another teenager with Cerebral Palsy in the care of his grandparents needed an elevator installed in their stilted home in the Lower Keys.
This year, however, after years with the general focus of helping those in need in the Florida Keys, the foundation has narrowed the focus of their mission on suicide prevention.
Wallace lost one of her own children to suicide 29 years ago, and when Brooks Clark, a shining star among the vast field of real estate agents in Islamorada took her own life last year, Wallace sought the expertise of David Rice, a confidant, counselor, and friend at the Marathon Guidance Clinic to address the issue head on in her own community.
“David walked me through a year of therapy, so when I contacted him, we initiated the Suicide Prevention campaign in conjunction with the Foundation,” she explained. “He brought several mental health workers from Key West to come and train our board so we could then help other people.”
Wallace said within the first week the hotline, which is staffed 24 hours a day, was installed at the Guidance Clinic; more than 20 calls were answered.
Teenagers and elderly residents, Wallace surmised, made up the majority of callers.
“The number of children that call in has been amazing and heartbreaking at the same time,” she continued.
After going through the mental health training, Wallace said she was finally relieved of the guilt that had overwhelmed her for years.
“I realized that Scott didn’t kill himself because of something that happened to him or something I did or didn’t do,” she exhaled. “He was in so much pain that he just had to make it stop. Whatever that devil was that was torturing him wouldn’t let him go.”
The foundation’s funding to provide assistance to residents in need is collected from Coldwell Banker Schmitt Real Estate agents, and with home sales and transactions slowed in the current economic climate, so are the contributions to the foundation.
The advertising campaign, that included canvassing the community and placement in each issue of all local newspapers, carries an estimated price tag of $25,000 per year.
In order to help fill the foundation’s coffers, the Coldwell Banker Schmitt Charitable Foundation will be hosting a lobster mini season Mega Yard Sale on July 31 in Marathon. Expanding on the Big Pine office’s annual yard sale event, Wallace said the foundation opted not to host a gala-type event this year and instead host a yard sale on a day when there would be significantly higher traffic coming through the city limits.
“We didn’t want to take on any expense,” Wallace reasoned.
The training facility behind the Marathon office is already filled to the hilt with items for the yard sale that will be held in the parking lot in front of Office Depot next Saturday from 8 am to 2 pm.
For more information about the yard sale, call Drenda Collins at (305) 289-6489.
For more information about the Coldwell Banker Schmitt Charitable Foundation, call (305) 872-5261.
Coldwell Banker Schmitt Charitable Foundation
“Moving Forward…By Giving Back”
“Helping Those in Need in the Florida Keys”
Our Business is Homes…Our Passion is Helping
Board of Directors
Arline Lafferty Wallace, Chairman
Lisa Ferringo, Vice Chairman
Pat Barlow, Secretary
Marsha Martin, Treasurer
Keys People are Saying…
“I hope your organization lasts a long time, so that it can help more and more local individuals and their families…”
“My apartment is my refuge from life’s storms, and you helped me keep it. For that, I thank you.”
“Thank you so much for helping me during my illness. It helped to take care of my household bills. God Bless You!”
The Big Pine Key office of Coldwell Banker Schmitt Real Estate has hosted an annual community yard sale to help raise money for the company’s charitable foundation, and this year, during lobster mini-season weekend, the Marathon office will host a similar event in the Office Depot parking lot from 8 am to 2 pm on Saturday, July 31.