Day 128: Keller Williams RED Day at Lafayette House



Each year, on the second Thursday of May, tens of thousands of Keller Williams agents across the US and Canada participate in RED Day. RED Day, which stands for Renew, Energize and Donate, is an initiative dedicated to celebrating Keller Williams Realty’s year-round commitment to improving our local communities.  Agents devote their time, in a wide range of projects, to renewing and energizing aspects of the neighborhoods in which they serve. 

RED Day initiatives run the gamut from rebuilding homes, refurbishing local parks, giving to local food shelters, hosting blood drives, beautifying beaches and so much more. Projects are chosen by each individual market center based on a need they see within its community.

Recognizing her leadership in guiding the culture of our company, RED Day is held in honor of Mo Anderson, Vice Chairman of the Board, Keller Williams Realty. This event is an entrenched part of Keller Williams Realty’s culture and displays the extraordinary effect a company can have when individuals come together to work as a team for the greater good of everyone.

I have participated in five RED Days since joining this amazing company, however, for my first today, I joined our Keller Williams Team in donating time, energy, products and money to Lafayette House in Joplin. Although I am very familiar with the wonderful services that this non-profit organization provides, this was my first time to visit there.


Founded in 1978, Lafayette House provides a safe environment for women and children whose lives have been touched by abuse and addiction. Working collaboratively, Lafayette House promotes self-sufficiency through education and encouragement while constantly striving to address the evolving needs of their clients and the community. They also offer alcohol and drug abuse treatment for women, provide behavioral health services for women, children and families and run a licensed child care facility that specializes in caring for children from violent and/or chemically dependent families. Their resale store, Second Chances, gives 100% of the store’s profits toward funding and programs for the women and children staying in the shelter. Clients of Lafayette House are able to get the items they need for their families from the shop, free of charge.

What a wonderful organization, making a huge difference in the lives of many people. Our team tackled several projects at Lafayette House, including an extensive kitchen and utility room makeover, donations of a variety of much needed items and landscaping, fence building and the installation of a swing set. I joined the landscaping group and we worked diligently and quickly to finish before the rain and thunderstorms hit Joplin this afternoon. My office also incorporates an additional event we call Cookout for a Cause, offering $5.00 lunches that include a grilled hamburger or hotdog, chips, cookie and a drink, to individuals and companies, with all proceeds going to our selected charity.  Lafayette House will receive all the money from the sale of these lunches.

Many, many hours go into RED Day, even before the actual day, with extremely dedicated people overseeing the event and the cookout. Local companies and affiliates donate food, materials, money, needed items and in some cases, their time to make RED Day a success. As Mark Ozman, an agent with the Indianapolis/Carmel Market Center said, “RED Day isn’t about cleaning up a park. It is a one-day expression of what happens 24/7 in the Keller Williams culture. It is seeing a need, discovering who can meet that need and then getting it done.”

I agree wholeheartedly, and I am so proud to be a part of a company that lives its culture and gives to its community!


Day 127: 12 Years a Slave


Another late evening as, for my first today, I watched number 8 of 9 Best Picture nominated movies, 12 Years a Slave. I had hoped to save this movie for last, since it won the Oscar for Best Picture. But the movie Her doesn’t release until next Tuesday. Although the timing is great, last movie out, last movie to watch, the late release date meant that tonight, I watched this winner.

12 Years a Slave stars Chiwetel Ejiofor, Michael Fassbender, Benedict Cumberbatch, Paul Dano, Lupita Nyong’o and Brad Pitt. It was directed by Steve McQueen. This epic tale was nominated for 9 Academy Awards, including Best Director, Best Costuming, Best Adapted Screenplay, Best Supporting Actor for Fassbender, Best Actor for Ejiofor, Best Actress for Nyong’o and Best Picture.  It won Oscars for Best Screenplay, Best Actress and Best Picture.  The movie is rated R and has a run time of 2 hours and 14 minutres.

Based on the true story of Solomon Northup, played by Ejiofor, the movie follows the life of this American born free black man who is kidnapped in 1841, at the age of 32, and sold into slavery. Torn away from his family, friends and life, Northup, who is given the name Platt, is sold or traded among the plantations of northern Louisiana. Treated cruelly by most of his owners, Solomon nevertheless determines that he will do more than survive, he will live. A very intelligent man, raised by free parents and highly educated, Northup struggles to adopt the “be silent and lay low” attitude held by the other slaves, bringing wrath upon himself and often, severe punishment.

He meets and becomes the protector of a young slave woman named Patsey, played by Nyong’o in her film debut. Patsey has drawn the unwelcomed attention of plantation owner Edwin Epps, played by Fassbender. Northup’s care of Patsey enrages Epps and nearly costs him his life. Although he never ceases to think of his wife and family back in New York, and makes several attempts to get a letter back home, asking for help, it isn’t until Northup meets itinerant carpenter Samuel Bass that hope arises. Bass, played by Brad Pitt, is from Canada and is anti-slavery. He listens to and believes Northup’s story and ultimately, is his rescuer.  Sending letters on Northup’s behalf, Bass prompts the legal powers in New York to at last secure Northup’s release, allowing him to return home to his wife and now grown family. In 1853 Solomon Northup wrote his memoirs, 12 Years a Slave. For the rest of his life he spoke against slavery and was active in the abolitionist movement.

That’s the story. The movie was gripping and very well acted, especially by Chiwetel Ojiofor, whose performance was powerful and gut-wrenching, at the same time. And although I haven’t seen the last movie, Her, for comparison, I can see why 12 Years a Slave won for Best Picture. How can anyone watch this film and not be affected? All that being said, this was a very difficult movie for me to watch. I cannot stand injustice. I cannot understand how one human being can treat another human being in such horrific ways. From his kidnapping until he secured his freedom, I watched Solomon’s story with a lump in my throat and tears in my eyes. Northup was a good man, a talented musician, a compassionate friend. Having spoken this week about living as our shimmering self, rather than hiding behind false selves, I noticed how Northup, in spite of his attempts to disappear behind a blank expression and unassuming demeanor, couldn’t help but shine. His magnificent self would rise, a true testament to human dignity, courage and perseverance. He did do more than survive, he lived. He lived to become a free man once more and emptied himself in fighting for the freedom of all people.

I was deeply impacted by this movie. And lest I point a finger at another and cry “injustice” and “prejudice”, I examined my own heart and thoughts. To see anyone else as “other”, whether because of skin color, gender, age, accomplishments, ability or for any reason, is to isolate myself and label someone else. To grow and learn from this film is to glance inward to abolish any critical spirit or thought that I am more deserving than anyone else or that anyone is less than I am. We are One is more than a sentiment to me, it is my belief. To love myself is to love another. We are the same.