By the time Category 4 Hurricane Ida hit Louisiana in late August, leaving many underwater and without electricity, the KW Cares team was mobilized and ready to provide disaster relief. “The Thursday before the storm hit, we started meeting up,” said Alexia Rodriguez, CEO of KW Cares. “We met every day, twice a day, took information from the people on the ground in Louisiana, and, in Austin, made all coordination efforts to make sure their needs were met.”
The preparation for the storm has paid off. For the first time, the team was at three command centers in Louisiana, stocked with supplies for those affected. “In the past, we only needed one command center per hurricane, but this storm was so widespread and devastating that it took three,” Rodriguez said. “Through our board member and Disaster Response Task Force leader Dawn Cazedessus and her team, we were able to distribute more than 1,000 generators — more than we distributed in all the hurricanes we responded to in 2020 together.”
When those affected began assessing their damage and calling for help, the 50-person team on the ground in Louisiana, as well as three groups of volunteers in the Austin area, got to work. On the ground, the team supplied generators, tarpaulins, extension cords, gas bottles, coolers and masks, among other things. In Austin, 47 trained volunteers helped manage the crisis line, handling as many as 500 calls a day by conducting intakes and generating fund requests. Thanks to the support of board members, Keller Mortgage, KWU, the events department and the management of kwx, it was an incredible team performance. “It was real teamwork and wonderful to see our culture in action,” says Rodriguez.
In addressing the immediate aftermath, the team’s focus was razor-sharp. “Essentially, I turned my living room into a mini command center,” recalls Rodriguez. Helping an estimated 2,000 families is not possible without a system that works. “What we do at KW Cares is primarily three things: we answer the crisis line, an effort led by my team and our trained volunteers who answer the calls and process the grants,” shares Rodriguez. “The other half is the coordination of supplies. We have a warehouse here in Austin with supplies and our own 18 wheelers. We also focus on coordinating and paying contractors for deck roofs and debris removal.”
While 60% of KW Cares’ work is for “regular grants” – offered in the event of life events such as a car accident or a difficult health diagnosis – the organization also provides disaster grants of $5,000 per person to team members and their families. families. “Many other companies have similar funds, but they don’t nearly cover the number of employees,” Rodriguez says. “For example, KW Cares covers not only the team member, agent or employee, but also their spouse, their parents (including in-laws), their children (including adult children) and siblings. I think that is a very remarkable aspect of KW Cares.”
In the context of Hurricane Ida, this aid looks like more than $2.7 million: $1.3 million in disaster subsidies, and $1.4 million in supplies, tarpaulin and debris removal contractors, and delivery costs. “The total of our financial support for this storm is still growing,” said Rodriguez. “We expect to continue to provide financial support to our KW families who have been hit hardest by awarding them our regular grants (up to $30,000) in the coming weeks.”
The fundraiser never ends
Providing assistance in times of crisis and helping team members and their families through life’s hardships requires a constant replenishment of the financial resources that are integral to rebuilding in difficult times. For this reason, fundraising is not only at the heart of the integral KW Cares team, but also of the employees who want to give something back.
Rodriguez shares: “I got a call from KW agent Mike Duley who wanted to do a virtual fundraiser to help us replenish our financial resources. After Hurricane Ida, he had already compiled the list of speakers for this event.” This list included several mega agents and leaders such as Gary Keller, Mo Anderson, Marc King, and Jason Abrams. With a fast turnaround, the “100x Your Real Estate Business” event came to fruition on September 30, benefiting the KW Cares Rebuilding the Reserves campaign. Raising more than $170,000 in funds, the event’s success went beyond a monetary success: agents benefited from quick style discussions about personal strategies and practices for accelerating growth and success.
For those who missed the fundraiser but still want to contribute, there’s still time to do so. From now until October 14, 2021, those who donate $25 or more will receive a recording of the exclusive event. Read more by clicking below.
“I think what we do as an organization, and the fact that KW Cares exists, is really extraordinary,” says Rodriguez. “Our slogan is ‘Family Helps Family’, and it’s so true!”