Realtors become volunteer landscapers for Compassion House

July 6, 2010

By Paige Collins

Windermere volunteer Wendy Oliver, center, overlooks the progress that the landscaping party has made at the Compassion House duplex. Contributed

The new Compassion House duplex on Andrews Street received a landscaping makeover June 18, as Windermere Real Estate associates donated their time as part of their annual Service Day.

Finishing touches are being put on the new building, which has space to hold two families in need of transitional housing, according to Compassion House board member Rick McCarty.

The nonprofit organization strives to provide struggling families with not only a place to live, but also counseling and skill building to help them stand on their own, McCarty said.

“It’s really about giving people a hand up, not a handout,” he said.

When faced with making plans for the 2010 Windermere Service Day, coordinator Dave Paremski chose to return to Compassion House, which he and his agents had worked with several years ago to landscape the neighboring home.It was rewarding for the agents to come back and see that their work had turned a “mud pit” into a home, he said, as the building now houses two single mothers and their six children.

In one day, almost 60 Windermere agents worked to transform the yard from piles of dirt to trees and planting beds lined with fresh bark.

“We start at 8:30 a.m. and work until we are done,” Paremski said. “As independent contractors, we hardly ever work together, but today we’re side by side.”

The agents donated their time and brought tools, while the Compassion House found funds for the landscaping materials, he said.

Master Builders Association and John Day Homes donated most of the building materials and labor, and the city of Issaquah waived all of the permit fees, McCarty said. The input allowed the cost of the building to be less than half of what it would have been, he said.

Jim “Scoop” Cox, a Windermere agent working at the event, was enthusiastic about the work being done.

“It’s a great group effort and a great opportunity to serve the public,” he said.

That sense was prevalent throughout the group, as all of the agents were laughing, talking and enjoying their time as volunteers.

Compassion House board members are in the process of interviewing potential candidates to live in the new building, scheduled to open late this month, McCarty said.

They assess each family’s needs and with the family’s upfront agreement set up a program in which they provide financial, legal and family counseling, as well as job training and placement.

“We want to give them skills so hopefully they will never be in this position again,” McCarty said.

The organization is looking for more involvement within the Issaquah community.

“The people that help these families gain and learn as much as those living here,” he said.

Paige Collins: 392-6434 or Comment at

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