Rowley Properties employees dig deep to help others

December 29, 2008

By Jon Savelle

Every holiday season, the employees of Rowley Properties pool their funds to support one needy family. This year was no different, with the group raising more than $1,000 to help a family of five that sought shelter through the Eastside Domestic Violence Program.

“They wanted to support this organization, as it helps demonstrate that people care, the family is worthy and despite what they’ve been through, life will get getter,” said Rowley community development representative Kristi Tripple. 

Rowley Properties develops and manages commercial real estate in central Issaquah, with owners Skip Rowley and his daughter, Kari Magill, having a long history of civic involvement. 

This is the second year Rowley employees have worked with the Eastside Domestic Violence Program, but in previous years, they have chosen Seattle Children’s (formerly Children’s Hospital), the Issaquah Food Bank and the YWCA. The selection is by a vote of the employees in October. “Last year, $1,200 was raised for a family that had just arrived to Eastside Domestic Violence with their only possessions held in a lunch sack,” Tripple said. “Our employees ensured they had money for food, warm clothing, shoes, tickets to the movies and activities that they could enjoy together as a family.”

A consistent force behind the charitable giving is Bob Snyder, facilities manager for Rowley. He pitched in gifts and groceries for their adopted family.

“We view this as an opportunity to pay forward the blessings we’ve been given,” he said. “There are others who aren’t as fortunate as us, and we need to help them. This year, we worked with families who are really struggling. It’s really awesome to know you are going to change those people’s Christmas.” 

Snyder said he is past the point of wanting gifts for himself. A much greater reward comes from helping others. 

“The funny thing is, the more you give, the more you seem to get,” he said. “Call it karma. What we get back is that reward of just knowing that you’ve really had an impact in someone’s life that really needed that help.

“That is so rewarding,” he said. “That is such a great feeling.”

Participation in the seasonal giving is voluntary, and Snyder said he didn’t know whether every employee contributed or not. But he said the Rowley family has set an example of generosity that the employees are happy to share. 

“It’s a cultural thing,” he said. “I would think you’d feel left out if you don’t participate. Everyone’s talking about it, with the gifts piling up.”

That kind of support makes a huge difference for families in need, said Barbara Langdon, executive director of the Eastside Domestic Violence Program. Most of them arrive with nothing but the clothes on their backs.

“For them to be able to celebrate Christmas is very, very important,” she said. 

Last year, the organization’s adopt-a-family program helped 21 families, but with support from the community the number nearly doubled, to 41. Some donor groups also adopt entire shelters of families. 

“During the course of a year, when a new family moves in, they get new linens, toys and some goodies,” Langdon said. “That helps a lot. That’s something we wouldn’t be able to do without groups like this.”

Help of any kind is always welcome. Langdon said gift cards are especially useful, because families can use them for gas, telephone service, personal items and many other purchases. 

“I always feel like I’m the lucky one that gets to see the joy on the children’s faces, or the women who feel the generosity of the people out there,” she said. “It’s really something. This year, I went to a holiday party at a shelter and I was sitting with a woman, and her little boy was sitting on my lap. I said, ‘It must be hard’ and she said, ‘Are you kidding? This is the best Christmas ever. I’ve got a roof over my head, there’s food on the table, I’m not being beaten and my little boy has a present.’”

Founded in 1981, it is the largest provider of help to victims of domestic violence in the state. Its services include two shelters, safe housing in communities, support groups for women and children, community education and training, and victims’ advocacy. 

In 2007, the Eastside Domestic Violence Program served 5,644 victims of abuse and answered 8,820 calls on its crisis line, according to Tripple. The need is so great that for every person who obtains emergency shelter through the organization, 13 cannot be accommodated. Often a victim — 95 percent of them women — must choose between living on the streets and returning to her abuser.

The family adopted by the Rowley employees was doubly fortunate in getting help from them and from the Eastside Domestic Violence Program. Snyder said the mother wanted a digital camera, so she could take pictures of her children.

“I got her a camera and got her a big memory card,” he said. “Her daughter wanted an iPod, so I got her an iPod. I also raised money for groceries and household items. 

“The biggest thing I get out of it is, it is an opportunity to pay back for the blessings I have in my life,” he said. “I feel really fortunate.”

“The funny thing is, the more you give, the more you seem to get.” 

— Bob Snyder

Rowley Properties facilities manager

Are you kidding? This is the best Christmas ever. I’ve got a roof over my head, there’s food on the table, I’m not being beaten and my little boy has a present.” 

— Client

Eastside Domestic Violence Program

 

 

Reach Reporter Jon Savelle at 392-6434, ext. 234, or jsavelle@isspress.com. Comment on this story at www.issaquahpress.com.

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