Paying it forward

Paying it forward

In May 2010, Keller Williams Realty hosted its first local RED Day of service event at Buckner Children and Family Services, where the agency succeeded in the complete renovation of the receiving facility at the shelter in one day.

For this year’s event, the group returned to Buckner to finish what they had started, only this time they brought friends — and more than doubled their workload.

RED (Renew, Energize and Donate) Day began in the early morning hours of Thursday, May 12, as the group at Keller Williams Realty began work on the day’s goals: renovation of the administrative building, the teardown and haul-away of a declining playground and extensive landscaping.

“‘Extreme Home Makeovers’ has nothing on this crew. I mean, these people are unbelievable,” said Laura May, Buckner administrator. “That group has really become special to us.”

Renovations to the administrative facility include new paint in the entry and hallways, a reframed back wall, new countertop installation and other amenities such as new furniture, rugs, a chandelier and toys for the children.

“The one thing we want kids to feel when they come on this campus is that it’s a home, and when they walk in that front door, it feels like home,” said May. “It feels like a warm, safe place to be — and that’s what we wanted. They did way beyond what we expected for that room.”

The outdoors also saw a great deal of clean-up, as volunteers were literally up to their elbows in fertilizer, planting flowers along the buildings.

Around the back of the property, a tractor ripped out concrete eyesores left over from past hurricanes and an out-of-code playground that needed to be removed by a deadline.

“Last year was our first year to participate in RED Day,” recalled Leah Cleveland, Keller Williams realtor and RED Day event chair. “So we really didn’t know what we would be able to accomplish in one day. This year, we requested 200 percent participation from our realtors — meaning all 45 of our realtors show up and bring a friend. And we had so many of our sponsors actually show up to help us with the work — we were just blown away. Our goal for the day was to help them accomplish the services they set out to accomplish in the community.”

Buckner functions as both a residential and evaluation facility for child abuse victims ages 5-17, as well as the hub for foster care options and support.

“I’ve been working for Buckner and working with kids for 20 years, and it just warms your heart to know that you’re not in it alone — that there’s a lot of people who believe that our children are special and that they deserve to feel special and wonderful,” said May. “The group at Keller Williams and everyone that came out; they truly believe in being servants to the community and giving back, and it just says a lot about Southeast Texas. When you see this, it gives us the encouragement to continue doing what we do.”

For more information about Buckner, visit the Web site at, or call (409) 866-0976. Buckner is at 9055 Manion Drive in Beaumont.