Homeless teens walked through the doors of eight residences throughout the Las Vegas Valley late Thursday afternoon to discover renovations and updates to the places they currently call home.
The makeovers, which included re-tiled floors, replaced washers, dryers, cabinets and refrigerators and new bedding, were made possible through the efforts of Keller Williams Realty’s local branch.
The real estate company’s national day of service, known as RED Day for Renew, Energize and Donate, began in 2009, and local branch employees have dedicated their time to the Nevada Partnership for Homeless Youth for the past five years.
This year, nearly all of Keller Williams’ 200-plus employees volunteered their time at eight houses and condos across the valley. Two are emergency shelters for homeless youth, and six are independent living homes for 20 homeless teens in transitional situations.
Lanette Rivera, a communications associate for the homeless youth partnership, said the occupants have to abide by some ground rules to qualify for independent living. Partnership associates known as “house parents” monitor the kids, and most take life skills classes, go to therapy, have jobs and even attend college.
Painting and pulling weeds
Keller Williams employees arrived at 8 a.m. to begin work at one of those houses in a Las Vegas neighborhood.
Painters coated the house in fresh layers of paint, while volunteers cleaned the kitchen, pulled weeds and brought in new bedding for the three bedrooms.
“Last year when we did this house, I kept looking at the house on the outside, and I’m like, this is our thing. Next year we have to get this house painted,” said Traci Human, a top-producing agent on the agent leadership committee. “The eaves were all peeling.”
Human has been renovating houses through the program for four years and said she particularly enjoys the kids’ reactions.
“They are teenagers, and you think that kids don’t usually show that, but they let us know that they really appreciate that,” she said.
Later in the afternoon, sounds from hammering and an electric screwdriver resonated throughout the small house, as volunteers clothed in red shirts and hats chatted happily while munching on pizza.
Patricia Matthew, a team leader with the real estate company, even let her two sons skip school to help out.
“Our office is empty today. Everybody is dedicated to RED Day,” Matthew said.
“It’s definitely a spirit and a culture of giving.” she said of the international company day, which offices in 35 countries observe.
Arash Ghafoori, the homeless youth partnership’s executive director, pointed to Keller Williams’ months of fundraising for renovation supplies and services as the secret to success.
“This effort, which all culminates in one day, doesn’t just happen in one day,” he said.
Ghafoori said the renovation was much-needed for those in the transitional living program.
“They are youth and teens and young adults and, at the end of the day, they tend to produce a lot of wear and tear.”
More about Nevada Partnership for Homeless Youth programs
• The partnership’s Independent Living Program is a transitional housing program that provides homeless youth with housing, utilities, transportation, food and clothing, case management, education and employment counseling and assistance, tutoring, life skills classes, crisis counseling, and enrichment opportunities to help them grow into self-confident, healthy adults.
• The partnership’s Emergency Shelter provides youth in crisis with much-needed shelter and emergency services while helping them transition to stable housing.
For more information, visit www.nphy.org.