Posted on : Monday June 21, 2010

By Shannon Baker, BCM/D National Correspondent

BALTIMORE, Md.–Nearly 200 volunteers from Keller Williams Realty and its partners opted to not make money for a day. Instead, they spent the day cleaning, building and moving the new offices for Open Door Community Development Corporation in Baltimore, Md.

RED (Renew, Energize and Donate) Day is a Keller Williams Realty service initiative dedicated to improving the local communities.

“Giving where they live,” these volunteers from at least four local offices wore their red shirts as they transported office furniture and supplies into Open Door’s new location, only two doors down from their previous space, on Fayette Street.

The new space allows Open Door to consolidate all their operations, including food and clothing distribution as well as their client management, into one building.

Formed in 2006, Open Door is located in lower East Baltimore serving seven contiguous neighborhoods near Johns Hopkins Hospital. There staff and volunteers, led by a Board of Directors, seek to stimulate economic revitalization and community development in distressed neighborhoods in Baltimore.

Open Door also seeks to be a source of hope and encouragement for people who need a new start.

But on this day, it was Open Door that was the recipient of the blessing.

“With Keller Williams’ assistance, we were able to quickly move our operations,” shared Bill Simpson, executive director at Open Door. More than that, many of the realtors realized ongoing opportunities to serve and otherwise give back to the communities in which they work, he said.

Chip Macgil with Keller Williams Select in Ellicott City, Md., shared, “It’s kind of really in the spirit of just giving back, and it’s just a great opportunity. We had a great day here and got a little bit accomplished—no, I think, a lot accomplished.”

“What a day it’s been,” agreed John Hallis, of Keller Williams Ellicott City, who organized the day’s events.

“One of the things that have been so powerful to me is how intentional these folks have been. These folks are all small business owners.  The day down here working and giving a day of volunteerism is a day that they weren’t able to make money…They all said, ‘You know what, it is more important to go down and be together and to make an impact in a place that desparately needs hope.’”

Hallis continued, “So, today we were hope-pushers, street to street, place to place, letting people know that we care about them. The folks who do this every single day and dedicate their lives to make a difference in a very tough place, they know we care about them; and the folks that they serve and the ones who were able to meet and ultimately would be the beneficiaries of some of our work, they know we care about them.”

Hallis shared that he personally is very passionate about the disenfranchised and about helping people who don’t have a voice.

“I believe that it speaks very powerfully to my knowledge of who Jesus is and to the power of what He is able to do in lives. He was drawn to the disenfranchised. This, for me, is a natural day. It’s a day of giving, yes, but at the same time, it is a day of receiving, because we get many blessings from just being down here.

“At the end of the day, if we didn’t come down here and passionately serve the people, who don’t have advocates and who don’t have the basic necessities of life, then we have accomplished nothing. So the fact that we have accomplished both of those things is a very cool thing, and I am glad I am a part of it.”

To learn more about volunteer opportunities, contact Wendy Mindte, Open Door’s director of volunteer services, at  Corporate sponsors may contact Bill Simpson at (410) 522-0044 or