KW Cares is a centerpiece of the Keller Williams International culture. This was the most amazing event to attend. As someone who has watched the center of San Francisco return from blight over the last 30 years, hearing about Mama Shu’s determined effort to revitalize her block was intensely inspirational. I’m so proud and happy my company could help her complete a piece of her mission. – Jennifer
At the conclusion of Family Reunion, Keller Williams associates gather together to celebrate the spirit, service and acts of kindness that bond us together. This year’s event continued the 18-year tradition with the theme “touching hearts.”
After a moving performance by the Las Vegas Mass Choir, Vice Chairman of the Board Mo Anderson welcomed attendees and emphasized the “unyielding efforts, unshakeable spirit and united action” of Keller Williams associates.
“You are a part of the beautiful things too. You bless our hearts, because of the wonderful acts of kindness that you do every single day.”
After a prayer of all faiths, Anderson and her assistant executive, Kellie Clark, welcomed Khloe Thompson to the stage to share her story.
Heart of a Child
Khloe Thompson is not your average 9-year-old. She is an ambitious elementary student who started her own charity, Khloe Kares, in which she hands out handmade bags filled with toiletries to homeless women near her California home.
Khloe was inspired to start her charity after meeting a homeless woman near her school. With the help of her grandmother and parents, she has created 600 bags, passed out 528 and has a goal of distributing 700 this year.
In April, Khloe will be heading to Ghana to teach other young girls about how they can make a mark in their communities. Together, the girls will build vision boards and business plans. At the end of the interview, Anderson surprised Khloe with a $25,000 check to help with her trip’s expenses!
After receiving her gift, she delivered a word advice to the audience, “Don’t let your age stop you from what you want to do.”
Heart of an Angel
Having a baby pass away is tragic. As a former obstetrics nurse at hospice care, this is something Cori Salchert has an intimate understanding of. She remembers spending days and nights comforting families in their baby’s final moments.
“I couldn’t change that a baby would pass away, but could embrace the pain and try to make a difference.”
After an illness that nearly took her life, she began the journey of caring for terminally ill children with her husband. Since 2014, the busy parents of eight have fostered seven terminally ill children. When asked where she finds the strength to keep serving, Salchert answered, “I have not been asked to do something that God has not given me the strength to do. I know they will die, but it would be worse if they were alone.”
This love for children coupled with a belief that everyone is loved unconditionally by God led the pair to adopt baby Charlie in 2015.
“He’s medically fragile and wasn’t expected to live through his 2nd birthday, which was in June, but he’s still alive! He could die at any time, but we go through each day expecting he’s going to live.”
Caring for children with medical needs is expensive, but has not deterred Salchert and her husband. Anderson presented Salchert with a gift card to aid her in her expenses and keys to a handicap accessible van.
“You are a guardian angel. I believe what you do is a reflection of your heart. When you go to your eternal home, those children will greet you and say, ‘Cori, thank you for your Amazing Grace.”
Heart of our Family
The event continued with the presentation of the Bob Carter Inspirational Award to Tom Freireich, director of vendor relations, Keller Williams Realty International. Freireich has dedicated his time and talents to KW Cares during natural disasters.
“Tom, from the very bottom of our hearts, we thank you for what you’ve done for our people and the people they serve. You’ve rebuilt homes, you’ve rebuilt lives and you are an inspiration to our family,” said Anderson.
Heart of a City
To conclude, Anderson welcomed Mama Shu to the stage.
After the tragic death of her son, Jakobi, Mama Shu decided to channel her grief into action. For years, she had a vision of turning her community into a vibrant, self-sustaining eco-village. She began by purchasing a $3,000 home and creating Moon Door Ministries. The nonprofit nourishes community members through counseling and food.
“Grief is love that doesn’t have anywhere to go. The grief and love I have for my baby boy went into my block.”
After years of hard work, Mama Shu now owns 20 properties, which is now called Avalon Village. The village holds a beautiful park named after her son. By the fall, she hopes to finish a homework house complete with a geothermal heating and cooling system, and by 2018 she would like to open more spaces for community members to experience hope and healing.
The project may be large, but Mama Shu, fueled by the love for her son, is undeterred.
“I’m not afraid the project will fail. I do not have fear in my bones. After Jakobi passed, I thought I wouldn’t be able to live through it. But I woke up the next day and that made me invincible.”
With the help of several sponsors, Anderson presented Mama Shu with $65,000 to fund the geothermal system.
“You turned a tragedy into an opportunity to give back,” said Anderson, “You chose to share love. You are literally the heart of your community.”
The Inspirational Morning served as an important reminder that we can be beacons of light to people in their darkest moments and touch hearts in our everyday actions.