Reflecting on the Past Year: Community, Connection, & Lessons Learned
This March, we’ve been taking some time to look back on the past year. One year ago in March 2020, all of our lives quickly changed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. So much has changed in the past year, and we wanted to make sure we took a moment to slow down and reflect. What have we all learned about ourselves, our community, and about real estate during the pandemic? What has been surprising, or a silver lining?
Our Agents & Staff Stepped Up in a Big Way
Giving back to our community is one of our core values at WPP, and as soon as the pandemic hit, we saw our agents and staff members dive into service. Some of this was led at the brokerage level, but so many of our agents took it upon themselves to find the unique ways they could lend a hand to their neighbors.
Team Aro jumped into action and donated and delivered meals and facemasks to the amazing healthcare workers at St Anthony’s in Gig Harbor. We are all so grateful to our healthcare workers, first responders, and essential workers for helping to keep us all healthy and safe!
REALTOR® Joyce Shipley also brought sandwiches from Jersey Mike's to the ER evening crew at St Anthony in Gig Harbor (they keep getting leftovers and she wanted to make sure they had a fresh meal!), and she’s also delivered face masks that some of her WPP family made to her doctor’s offices and to others in need. (Joyce also taught several of her elderly friends how to use Zoom so they wouldn’t feel alone!)
REALTOR® Sharon Chambers-Gordon serves the community all year long through her organization Raising Girls, and Raising Girls was *especially* busy during this challenging time. REALTOR® Stacey Gendreau and WPP Office Manager Jasmyn Jefferson are also both on the Raising Girls leadership team, and along with other volunteers they continued to put together and donate care bags with personal hygiene items to families in our community. With students having to stay at home and many people losing their jobs, the need for necessities became even greater during the pandemic.
Enumclaw Assistant Branch Manager Laura Oellerich starting making and donating facemasks—while facemasks are much easier to get these days, they were hard to come by at the beginning of the pandemic! People like Laura were literal lifesavers during this time.
We love this sign that REALTOR® Paige Schulte had set up in her neighborhood—Paige immediately jumped to action in supporting local restaurants and community members. Paige also partnered REALTOR® Erin Goodwill to donate meals to local seniors who were unable to leave their homes due to COVID-19.
Paige also donated over $15,000 to local charities in August 2020 alone. REALTOR® Paige Schulte’s work in her community has truly been an inspiration!
REALTORS® like Jaron Witsoe helped make grocery runs and deliveries to vulnerable members in the community, and Therese Gesch set up a Nextdoor group to connect with people and called neighbors to see what supplies they might need.
The pandemic had many unexpected consequences, one of them being that blood drives were cancelled. REALTORS® John and Catie Douville of Douville Home Group stepped up and donated blood last March to help keep blood banks stocked.
REALTOR® Martin Miller is also a pilot for United Airlines, and in April 2020 he had the unique job of flying crates of masks, gloves, and other PPE from Beijing, China to Narita, Japan so another crew could pick it up and bring it to the U.S. (Read more about his experience here!)
In April 2020, we also held a food drive. Local food banks were immediately overwhelmed with need, and many people brought food to our Puyallup office. Big thanks to REALTOR® Bobbi Stephens who helped deliver the food that would then be distributed to families in the Puyallup School District.
In May of 2020, Catie Douville of Douville Home Group participated in #EFNHungerWalk5K runs and raised over $1,000 to donate to Emergency Food Network! This was just the beginning of all of the Douville’s efforts to help the community with food donations—this winter, they held their Hoppy Holiday Food Drive and were able to raise 6,000 pounds of food donations for the Emergency Food Network.
REALTOR® Catie Douville and REALTOR® Morgan Reay collected donations for Girls With A Vision (G.W.A.V.) for the Black Homeless Lives Matter Food & Supplies Drive. They picked up Black hair care products, feminine hygiene products, face masks, and hand sanitizer. Donations went to BLM Tacoma and Families Unlimited Network.
A few of our agents also did so much to support mothers this past year. REALTOR® Madison Lord of RM Home Specialists worked with Tacoma YoungLives to support teen moms and donated gift cards and all kinds of supplies. REALTOR® Aly Zittel also helped collect and donate baby supplies to local families in need!
In November 2020, Windermere Professional Partners had our big brokerage-wide food drive, and so many of our agents contributed to this effort. We were able to gather over 5,000 pounds of food, which we donated to Nourish Pierce County (for Tacoma and Puyallup) and Gig Harbor Peninsula FISH. Read more about our food drive and see tons of pics here!
November 2020 was a busy time for us—Windermere Professional Partners also held our first blood drive with Cascade Regional Blood Services. We were able to get so many people to come and donate blood that CRBS asked to make this an annual event with us! CRBS had their blood donation bus parked at all 4 of our Windermere Professional Partners offices, and we were able to donate enough blood to save up to 252 lives. Read more about our blood drive here!
Every year, Windermere Professional Partners also donates funds through the Windermere Foundation. In 2020, we raised $52,442. Click here to learn more about the organizations we donated to!
Reflecting on the Past Year
We asked a few of our agents and staff members to share their reflections, things they’ve learned, and silver linings during the past year. The COVID-19 pandemic has affected so many aspects of all of our lives, and everyone has had a unique experience.
What has a silver lining of the pandemic been?
“Getting to spend lots of uninterrupted time with my kids being creative on things to do safely as a family.” -File Manager, REALTOR®, and Administrative Assistant Lisa Johnson
“It slowed me down, I go 100 MPH all the time. Finding time for family, friends and a personal life showed me there is more to life than work.”-REALTOR® Alicia Brown
“The Silver Lining during the Pandemic is that I have an even greater appreciation for Human Connection. I have always been very social, but the Pandemic has heightened my understanding of how important it is for people to have in person social interactions.”-Broker Amy Lowry
“COVID has been such a blessing. It has focused my energy on what is truly important to me. My family, my friends and making an impact through my business. Before Covid I was just running around like a crazy person. Now I am more intentional. Each day means more as I know we are not promised tomorrow. Sometimes it takes a big smack on the head to realize what we need to be focused on.” -REALTOR® Vic Jones
“For me, it’s the traffic—people have changed up their commuting patterns, no school buses (so much); no “push n shove” in lines and stores aren’t as crowded. People don’t expect me to drive them around or drive to their home to meet with them so much. There’s less hype and more things are intentional. It’s nice!” - REALTOR® Mark Anderson
What have you learned about real estate during the pandemic?
“Being a good, reliable, trustworthy agent is crucial, and building those client relationships. This became extremely important during the pandemic when many homes were purchased site unseen.” -REALTOR® Alicia Brown
“I have learned that the leadership at the company you are with can make all of the difference in being successful while navigating through such uncertain times. The leadership we had at WPP offered many educational tools to the agents and staff so that we could continue to be of service to our clients safely and respectfully.” -File Manager, REALTOR®, and Administrative Assistant Lisa Johnson
“I have realized that even when the world is struggling with a situation that is completely unfamiliar to all of us, there is still a need for movement, in the housing market. People still need to move, relocate, purchase and sell their homes. I believe that we have done a great job as an industry helping buyers and sellers navigate these changes safely and efficiently.” -Broker Amy Lowry
“People are spending more time with their families (in their homes) and now people are rethinking about what matters most in a house and/or even a second house.” - REALTOR® Mark Anderson
What did you learn during the pandemic?
“I learned that life is short and if you're doing things that don't bring you joy, stop doing them immediately. I had to stop posting on my business social media sites, it was too overwhelming. I learned it wasn't that important to sustain my business and there was a better way that worked for me, brought me joy and kept my peace.” -REALTOR® Alicia Brown
“The value of friendships and supporting those both inside and outside your circle has never been more relevant. The way Covid has affected people I know has been very different. The extremes of losing family members to the joys of rediscovering old hobbies and haunts outside to practice social distancing. Things will never be exactly the same as before the pandemic but I’m hopeful we can be better as humans when this is behind us.” - REALTOR® Michael McNiel
“I learned that I am NOT a good school teacher and that my kids could make me crazy at times but that they were going through a lot too. It was important to acknowledge that and to let them know that there’s always things in life that you can’t control and that you just have to look for the good in each day.” -File Manager, REALTOR®, and Administrative Assistant Lisa Johnson
“I think one of the most important lessons for me during the Pandemic is that there are always challenges that we have no control over. We must have patience & resilience to find our new normal. This won't last forever, but while we are here, we need to do the best we can. One thing is for sure, things will always change!” -Broker Amy Lowry
“How quick a person’s lifestyle can change, how the loss of a neighbor or family member can make you rethink what is really important in one’s life and how they live out their lifestyle.” - REALTOR® Mark Anderson
What has been one of the most surprising things you've learned during COVID-19?
“One of the most important things that I have learned during the Pandemic is how fragile our health can be. I have used this experience to make more time for both my mental and physical health.” -Broker Amy Lowry
“That I really enjoy going into the office every day. I missed all my peeps so much!” -File Manager, REALTOR®, and Administrative Assistant Lisa Johnson
“Besides the lack of toilet paper… how big the impact of the “helpers and caregivers” has been (I’ve never seen as much helping before – really, really cool!) and in contrast the number of “haters” - too much destruction in our cities. This was a surprise and weird.” - REALTOR® Mark Anderson
“I learned that your peace is the most important thing you have. Slowing down and taking stock in the things that matter should be sacred practices.” -REALTOR® Alicia Brown
Staying Connected While Staying Safe
As soon as COVID-19 began to impact our community, we quickly transitioned to working from home and staying connected via Zoom, Facetime, etc. Below we’ve shared just a few examples of how Windermere Professional Partners has stayed connected!
Here is a pic during one of our virtual office happy hours—we talked about life, pandemic news, and of course, real estate:
We also lead the way in keeping our agents connected with each other—our company culture of support is one of our top priorities. In addition to our Zoom calls with each other, we also kept everyone connected by sharing behind-the-scenes perspectives on our Instagram and Facebook profiles. We showed some “behind-the-scenes” looks at what our agents’ home offices looked like as we quickly shifted to working from home; REALTOR® Trish Stone, REALTOR® Paige Schulte, REALTOR® Marguerite Martin, and REALTOR® Stacey Gendreau all shared their own insight as to what it was like to run their real estate businesses from home.
It has also been important to us to continue highlighting local businesses and showcasing the things we love about Pierce County. In our blog post “Ideas & Inspiration for Staying “Social & Distanced” During Winter in Pierce County,” we shared several ideas for taking advantage of all that our great region has to offer, all while maintaining safety guidelines.
It was also neat to see the ways that our agents stayed connected with the community—REALTOR® Kelli Jo Hjalseth and REALTOR® Sharon Benson featured “Porch-Traits” of Tacomans on their front porches by local artist + photographer Abby Kok. “Beyond how heartening these porch-traits are, they carry with them a touching reminder of the community that has been staying at home around us, figuring out how to live their lives in unprecedented circumstances,” share Kelli Jo and Sharon.
Leading in Real Estate During Unprecedented Times
When COVID-19 first started impacting everyone, there was a lot of information out there regarding what type of business activities were allowed, what safety protocols were necessary, and more. We quickly sprung into action and made sure not only our real estate agents were informed with the most up-to-date information, but that our community was informed as well. We shared several blog post updates` in March 2020 including:
- A Message Regarding COVID-19
- What Washington State’s “Stay Home, Stay Healthy” Order Means for Real Estate
- How Coronavirus is Affecting the Pierce County Real Estate Market
And throughout 2020 and the beginning of 2021, we took extra care to provide even more real estate market updates. We always provide frequent behind-the-scenes real estate market education to our agents, but we also like to do updates that anyone can get access to. It’s important to us that we not only share the stats and facts, but that we break down what the numbers actually mean and make the information accessible—especially during this past year of unprecedented appreciation in Pierce County.
Here are just a few examples of real estate market blog post updates we’ve published:
- 2021 South Puget Sound Real Estate & COVID-19 Update
- 2020 Economic Review & 2021 Forecast in the U.S. & Pierce County
- Why It’s So Hard to Buy a Home in Pierce County Right Now & 3 Things Smart Buyers Are Doing to Win
- What’s Happening in Pierce County’s Real Estate Market this Summer? 5 Big Takeaways
- August 2020 Pierce County Real Estate Market Updates: Here’s What the Numbers Mean
- Fourth Quarter Thoughts on the 2020 Pierce County Real Estate Market
We’re also always highlighting our agents home listings and the latest trends in Pierce County real estate on our blog, on Instagram, on Facebook, and via our email newsletters. Here are a few examples:
- Are Million Dollar Homes Becoming Normal in Pierce County?
- 8 Homes in Pierce County with Gorgeous Backyards
- 5 Pierce County Homes For Sale with Must-See Home Offices
- Homes for Sale in Puyallup & What’s Happening in Puyallup’s Real Estate Market in Fall 2020