Realty group steps up for disaster relief


The occurrence of natural disasters has not slowed in recent years and neither have the relief efforts orchestrated by the Keller Williams Legendary real estate agency in Franklin Square.

Keller Williams is no stranger to offering support to associates in the KW family, especially those who are faced with devastation after a natural disaster.

On Nov. 3, Baldo LaRussa, an agent at Keller Williams, and the rest of the Sold By Baldo team organized an event called Socialize with a Purpose — a fundraising initiative to benefit the company’s nonprofit KW Cares and replenish reserves for disaster- relief efforts.

“KW Cares is a charity within the Keller Williams company that helps families who are a part of Keller Williams,” LaRussa said. “Most of our reserves we’ve had went to (people impacted by) the hurricanes in Florida and Puerto Rico. What we’re trying to do now is build the bank back up for another rainy day.”

Dozens showed up at the Franklin Social NY restaurant in Franklin Square to take part in the fundraiser, which featured a 50/50 raffle and hors d’oeuvres, and some even stepped up to the microphone for karaoke. LaRussa said the team raised a little over $2,000.

The prizes included a Jiffy Lube gift card, a Franklin Social NY gift card, a couple of bottles of wine and a “Thankful Basket” that contained coffee-themed items. The owners of Franklin Social NY donated 10 percent of the profits generated at the event to the cause.

Through KW Cares, Keller Williams associates and their qualifying family members can apply for grants during times of hardship, such as life-altering events and sudden emergencies.

When applying for an emergency KW Cares grant, a qualifying candidate must first alert either someone from market center leadership or a Keller Williams Realty International Department head. The next step is to gather crucial documentation relating to the emergency and, finally, submiting the request through the nonprofit’s application program.

According to the KW Cares website, since 2002, more than $55 million in grants have been distributed to Keller Williams associates in need.

Linda Chen, a real estate broker and operating principal at Keller Williams Legendary, said when disaster strikes, KW Cares uses the reserves to send trucks out with necessary supplies to impacted areas.

When Hurricane Sandy struck in 2012, leaving thousands of people displaced and vulnerable, KW Cares and market centers joined forces to provide food and shelter.

“We have to give back in order for people to thrive,” Chen said. “It’s about people first. When it’s about them, it just makes the brokers, the owners, come last.”

Giuseppe DiBartolo, a real estate salesperson for Keller Williams Legendary, said that he and the rest of the team enjoy being able to support those in need.

“It’s not done because we need to do it,” DiBartolo said. “It’s done because of the kindness of our own hearts. Everyone who comes in is doing it because they want to give back and any small donation is a bigger donation that’s ever given. Whoever needs help, we’re there to help them. We are like family.”