Carrying everything they could quickly pack up, Keller Williams associate Omar Rodriguez along with his wife and newborn baby left their home as Hurricane Harvey zeroed in on Houston, Texas. The family prayed they would have somewhere to return to after the hurricane passed. Little did they know, it would be almost two weeks before they could walk through that front door again, and what they would find would forever change their lives.
A first-time parent, Rodriguez spent months preparing his daughter’s nursery and was so excited for the memories they would make in that room. Unfortunately, Hurricane Harvey had other plans. Devastated to see his home ruined by floodwaters, Rodriguez says it is difficult to explain what he was thinking and feeling the first time he opened the front door after the flood. “I had built it up in my mind that it wasn’t going to be that bad,” he says. “But when I saw things from one side of the room had floated to the other side of the room, the mold and decay, and worst of all, the destruction of my daughter’s nursery, I lost it.” Fighting back tears, Rodriguez still can’t believe his family is going through this. “We lost everything,” he says.
But he isn’t going through it alone.
Moved beyond words when KW Cares reached out to him and his family to offer emergency assistance, Rodriguez says that without the help of the emergency grant money he received from the nonprofit, his recovery and rebuild story might have taken a different turn.
Throughout the Houston area, KW associates banded together and helped each other clean out the damaged homes. Rodriguez was one of the many recipients of this relief effort. Expecting just a few people to show up to help him, Rodriguez couldn’t believe it when more than 15 KW associates showed up, with smiles, and tore down all the rotted materials in just a couple hours. A task Rodriguez says would have taken him months to do alone.
“One of our agents showed up and told me that she had to put her father on life support that very same day and she still came out to help me,” Rodriguez says. “The emotion from the loss of everything was consuming me, but everyone’s generosity pushed it all away.” Even though Rodriguez was still working to rebuild his own home after the hurricane, he returned the favor by assisting others in their rebuilding efforts.
Beyond the structural damage caused by the hurricane, loss of income has also dampened KW associates in the affected areas, including Rodriguez. “My wife just had a baby and isn’t working right now,” he says. With just a few hundred dollars in their bank account, the Rodriguezes needed every last cent to purchase food, diapers and even clothes since nothing was salvageable. KW Cares extended an emergency grant to the family, offering them unexpected relief. “It took so much weight off our shoulders,” Rodriguez says. “We didn’t have to worry about being able to provide for our baby girl while we rebuilt.”
A Legacy of Taking Care of Its Own
Not every company has a nonprofit like KW Cares available to help its associates in times of desperate need. Understanding that it is in business with real people who have real needs, Keller Williams is a platform for making more and giving more.
In life, there will inevitably be hard times, but it’s at those times when people must come together to support those in need. KW associates heard the call and many have responded generously.
“I shared with my dad what my company did for me and he couldn’t believe it,” Rodriguez says. “At first, my father wasn’t sure about my decision to become a real estate agent and now he is 100 percent supportive of it and my choice to join Keller Williams. It actually brought us closer together.”
“If not for KW Cares, my family would probably still be in that mold-filled house trying to tear it down, fighting, stressed and needing to take out a loan to keep us going,” says Rodriguez, who can’t wait to get back to work helping people buy and sell the home of their dreams. “KW is where I am going to be. I don’t see myself ever leaving.”
The road to recovery for the Rodriguezes and all the other KW families affected by Hurricanes Harvey and Irma will be a long one. Help KW Cares meet its RED Relief fundraising goal of $20 million in order to continue our legacy of taking care of our own.