October 12, 2006

Reaching out to the community

  • CREW has become one of the top contributors to Jubilee Women’s Center.
    HomeStreet Capital


    As a fledgling organization in early 1987, CREW Seattle asked its members, “What unique community contribution can CREW make?” Since then, CREW has provided thousands of dollars in volunteer time and money to local organizations assisting women.

    From its beginnings, CREW has consistently supported students pursuing careers in commercial real estate with its annual scholarship fund. The first several scholarships — $1,000 to $2,000 per year — were made through the University of Washington and other local schools. And this year, CREW Seattle committed $2,000 to North Seattle Community College.

    Many CREW Seattle members have also benefited with CREW scholarships to cover continuing education and professional development.

    Helping the homeless

    In its early years, CREW used its real estate ties and networking ability to benefit various community organizations. Its first social event raised over $1,800 in 1988 for Seattle Emergency Housing Services. The next year, CREW donated the proceeds to the Girls Club of Seattle.

    In 1990, CREW partnered with Seattle Emergency Housing Services and other local organizations in the first Campaign for the Homeless Office Building Challenge to help over 100 King County families. CREW Seattle’s members asked tenants in 80 downtown office buildings to pledge a dime for each square foot of space to benefit shelters and assistance programs for the homeless. The goal was to raise $1 million and CREW members used their real estate network to contribute a vast amount of hands-on effort to the challenge. CREW members organized the program and appointed team captains to see that each building met its goal and posted contributions in the lobbies to keep tenants aware of the fund-raising efforts.

    Helping the YWCA, others

    CREW members worked closely in the 1990s with YWCA’s Angeline’s Center for Homeless Women to donate kitchen items, toiletries, back-to-school supplies and other wish-list needs.

    CREW members prepared and served lunches at Angeline’s and organized member tables for the annual YWCA professional women’s lunches. CREW members also cleaned and redecorated rooms at the shelter.

    CREW hosted Christmas parties at the YWCA and found support in the community for needed donations.

    CREW partnered with the National Association of Industrial and Office Parks to raise funds for community projects through golf tournaments and other events and joined NAIOP in annual work parties.

    In 1996, looking for something unique to CREW Seattle, CREW connected with The Alliance for Education to raise funds for Seattle Public Schools. CREW Seattle partnered with the alliance to organize the first Technology for Kids auction that year. The auction’s success was due in large part to CREW members obtaining donations, arranging auction tables and providing member support on auction night. From 1996-98, Technology for Kids raised over $110,000 for Seattle’s public schools.

    In 1999, the Alliance for Education teamed up with the Sonics to put on Three Point Ball, a tuxedoes and tennis shoes gala at Key Arena. CREW members participated in the silent auction portion of the event and contributed both donations and manpower to make the evening a success.

    Making an impact at Jubilee

    Photo courtesy CREW Seattle
    CREW members Trina Torkelson of Pinnacle, left, and Roberta Fuhr of Key Bank barbecued dinner in August for Jubilee residents.

    In 2001, CREW discovered Jubilee Women’s Center, which provides transitional housing, training and support to homeless women. CREW chose Jubilee because of the potential to create a major impact on Jubilee’s residents while offering its own members many opportunities to contribute.

    CREW’s introductory event was a spaghetti dinner for Jubilee residents with more than 20 CREW members that helped in the kitchen. Later that year, Crew connected Jubilee with Christmas in April, resulting in $30,000 in much-needed repair work to Jubilee’s 1920s-era convent building on Capitol Hill. CREW members then passed the hat at their annual meeting to net $1,200 for Jubilee to transform a utility room into another bedroom.

    In 2002, CREW’s spring clothing drive for Jubilee’s clothing boutique netted 70 bags of clothes for the center. CREW members also connected Jubilee with Two Big Blondes consignment shop, which now regularly donates clothing to the boutique.

    Each year, CREW members have filled several tables at Jubilee’s annual fund-raising breakfast, which provides a third of Jubilee’s operating fund.

    In 2004, CREW Seattle hosted a bowling fund-raiser with Shawn Springs of the Seattle Seahawks that resulting in $3,500 in donations for Jubilee.

    Individual efforts

    Individual CREW members also have adopted Jubilee, from providing beauty products and advice to mentoring residents and assisting in curriculum development for Jubilee’s technology center.

    In 2003, efforts by CREW members culminated in bringing together Jubilee and Mutual Interest, a nonprofit organization funded largely by the commercial real estate industry to provide security deposits to move low-income families into permanent housing. The immediate result, a $4,000 grant, provided funding for many Jubilee residents to transition into permanent housing and independence.

    In 2005, Jubilee launched a major capital and construction campaign to renovate the 85-year-old convent building. The $4 million campaign will improve and preserve the building and make space for additional residents. Crew member Kelly Beckley, director of marketing for Pinnacle, used her real estate knowledge and network to guide Jubilee in the planning and construction phase. Her expertise was so valuable that Beckley is now on Jubilee’s board of directors.

    CREW this year donated $10,000, its largest grant ever, to Jubilee’s capital campaign.

    “Jubilee is delighted to have such generous support from CREW,” says Susan Fox, Jubilee’s executive director. “We are particularly grateful to the CREW members who have provided community meals, helped with holiday donation drives and to those who volunteer at Jubilee.”

    While continuing its work with the YWCA and Jubilee, CREW this month will embark on another major community project, partnering with Rebuilding Together Seattle to renovate a low-income home.

    Mona E. Yurk is vice president and loan closing manager at HomeStreet Capital in Seattle.

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