Family Reunion ended with another incredible display of the Keller Williams culture during the fourteenth annual Inspirational Brunch. Led by the queen of culture herself, Mo Anderson, vice-chairman of the board, welcomed nearly 8,000 attendees to the event; appropriately named “Coming Home” in honor of Keller Williams Realty being founded in Texas 30 years ago.
“A home is where the heart is, and this company is the biggest heart I’ve ever known,” she said. “As we reach our outstretched arms beyond North American borders, we are becoming the global real estate family we have always aspired to be. Welcome to your real estate home.”
Large companies, like large families, tend to not only have more people, they have more fun, they form a larger network of support and they are bonded more, explained Anderson.
That network of support was put to the test several times in 2012, starting with the Greater Des Moines market center.
Ever since the market center opened, the associates have been struggling against a competitor with dominant market share who is paying only $1 of commissions on listings. “These Keller Williams associates have been unfairly denied approximately $100,000 in commissions they rightfully earned for helping their clients move into the homes of their dreams,” said Anderson. After an interview with market center leadership and members of the Associate Leadership Council (ALC) Anderson challenged attendees to “make our brothers and sisters whole.”
Within 60 seconds, Keller Williams family members wrote checks and stuffed envelopes with donations totaling $107,684 and made pledges for an additional $36,200.
“Keller Williams family, your actions truly show commitment in all things,” said Anderson in an email to associates announcing the total dollars donated. “Where in the world but KW could such an outpouring of generosity take place? It capped an historic Family Reunion. Your response will be remembered forever.”
The Des Moines associates weren’t the only ones to experience the outpouring of love and support on a large scale.
Earlier in the year, associates in New York, New Jersey and Pennsylvania were trampled by Super Storm Sandy. And thousands of Keller Williams family members “stepped up to support them during the dark hours after the storm,” said Anderson. She then recognized the countless ways in which entire regions came to the rescue – including associates who were affected.
“Look around – this is why Keller Williams is our home!”
Next, Anderson invited a long-time friend of the Keller Williams family - Gilbert Tuhabonye – to the stage. Tuhabonye has made it his mission to give back to the community that almost took his life.
He told his story of growing up during a civil war in Burundi. Each day he would run six miles to get water for his family. Running became his ONE passion despite his country’s impoverished situation. Little did he know running would also help narrowly escaped death when he and many children and families were enclosed in a church that the enemy tribe set on fire. Tuhabonye was the only survivor. Out of that tragic event, Tuhabonye turned his joy of running into a mission to help his people. One of the poorest countries on earth, most people in rural Burundi walk over two miles for untreated water from streams and puddles, often shared with livestock. Illness from waterborne infections is high, and a major factor in limiting access to education and economic stability. Through clean water projects, the Gazelle Foundation offers a first step in breaking the vicious cycle of poverty in Burundi.
At the end of his interview, Anderson presented Tuhabonye with a check for $10,000. “I understand your foundation is in need of a computer, well, honey, here’s something to help with that and then some!”
Anderson’s next guest, Luma Mufleh, also had an inspiring story to tell. Whether coaching kids' soccer or running a cleaning service, Mufleh's mission is the same: to bring marginalized refugees and new immigrants into the mainstream through education and hard work. A year and a half after graduating from Massachusetts's Smith College in 1997, she got a job coaching girls' soccer at a suburban YMCA. She began noticing random groups of boys - often dark skinned, with foreign accents and without uniforms - kicking balls on a nearby town's fields.
In August 2004, she rounded them up as the Fugees, a group of YMCA-sponsored teams of young refugees from various war-ravaged countries. With education still her highest priority, Mufleh required the boys, ages 9-17, to sign contracts committing to homework, tutoring, and a host of other conditions to stay in the game. Mufleh's Fugee Camp got so much recognition that she was featured on The Today Show, ESPN and other news outlets. Here's the story from the Today Show.
After hearing her story, Anderson surprised Mufleh with $10,000 check to go toward The Fugee Camp – which is a multi-million dollar facility for refugee children. “We also hear you need a way to get kids to and from the camp,” Anderson added, “Well, here are the keys to your new bus!
Anderson concluded the brunch with thoughtful words on the Keller Williams family and the culture that binds them together. “Together, we have created a family and actually built a real estate home. It is a home constructed with love, on a foundation of kindness and culture. The reason we built it is to pass on the memories of our caring, sharing and giving from one generation of agents to the next.
This is a momentous day! I hope you will always remember it – the day we stood side by side as family, to make our brothers and sisters in Des Moines whole, again. Together, we proved that to be a part of THIS family is to know that you are never alone – your team always has your back!”