Giving Back to Your Community as a School Volunteer

By
Real Estate Agent with Realty Austin, Austin Texas Real Estate 0396717

Russell as Healthy BearIt was 1993 and my previous broker asked if I would consider helping out Patricia Howard, the nurse at Eanes Elementary School with a little of my time on a special volunteer project. We had moved our family into the district a year earlier and though my children were only one and four years of age, I said sure. Little did I know that I would be involved with a volunteer effort that would last fifteen years and entail presentations to thousands of Kindergarten and first grade students at four different elementary schools in the Eanes School District. Patricia informed me that all I had to do was dress up in a bear costume as "Healthy Bear" and assist in teaching a program about the importance and health benefits of washing your hands. Here is the most inteteresting fact: The number 1 way germs are spread in the world is people NOT washing their hands! Reluctant but always game and exacting a promise that it would never get out and become public knowledge I agreed. I did think it was a bit weird at first and did not really want it known that I was prancing about in a bear costume before a bunch of school kids. (You know, with the likes of Krusty the Klown, Michael Jackson and others who had given those who volunteer with children a bad rap!)

My performances that week went fairly well in spite of a case of stage fright before a crowd of adoring 5 & 6 year olds and the fact that the costume made me sweat like a politician in church. I don't know what was so completely daunting because in a previous life, I had performed with several rock bands and engaged in all sorts of wild antics and well, that's another story... In fact, it went so well that Patricia "volunteered" my services to the other school nurses and counselors and before I knew it I was performing at four of the five elementary schools in the Eanes School District. Every January, I would take a few mornings a week and show up at the different schools and do the program. I made it into something fun and managed to mildly harass the teachers in some mischievous ways. I guess I was enjoying my influence as Healthy Bear and could not pass up the chance to have a little fun. I also made it a point to assign "homework" asking the kids to make sure that everyone in their homes engaged in regular hand washing protocol. I have to tell you there is nothing as relentless as a six year old evangelizing about hand washing (and I hear about this from clients all the time)!

Over the years I put in performances in all sorts of situations. One time between shows, I was on the phone with another realtor who was way out of line and I was responding in a direct and somewhat discordant manner. After I hung up the phone, the Principal and the school nurse were looking at me and one of them said, "So, what do you think that agent would a have done if they had seen you in that bear costume?" My answer was "she would have run or "not even" taken me seriously" so I am glad it was on the phone and NOT in Person. Over the years, I was Healthy Bear to both of my children while they were at Forest Trail Elementary and they were thrilled to know the secret behind the bear. One time the nurse made the mistake of asking me to transport the costume to Barton Creek Elementary and I ended up wearing it to the office and to visit some of my more "open minded" clients! This week, I started my fifteenth year as Healthy Bear but these days have narrowed down the performances to helping my friends Linda Kimbrough at Forest Trail Elementary and Bonnie Bucholz at Barton Creek Elementary . I will probably continue as long as either of them requests my services. I have to say that the Eanes School District has an incredible reputation and rightly so. The teachers and curriculum are first class and another contributing factor is the level of parental involvement. Friends and neighbors who take the time to show up and help in a thousand ways that keep the standards so high are what help make tour schools so spectacular. Schools everywhere are in need of outside, it only takes a little time and a willingness to help out! Have a great day and REMEMBER TO WASH YOUR HANDS!

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Russell Lewis Luxury Real Estate Broker Page copy protected against web site content infringement by Copyscape 

 

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POSITIVE ATTITUDE for the Weary Soul
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Anonymous
Scott Huse

This is what we are trying to develop with our organization where parents, families and the community feel a responsibility to get involved at school.  What a great story and thank you for following thorugh with Healthy Bear.

 

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The family is a critical component to any child’s life.  When it comes to education, no greater statistic stands truer today than the achievement gap between students whose parents are involved in their education process and those who do not have that support.  Personal responsibility, safety and education are key elements to bringing up the next generation.

 

After 10 years of experience leading a volunteer program in my children’s elementary and middle schools, Schools And Families Engaged (the S.A.F.E. TEAM on Campus) was launched  in 2008 to meet the needs of schools and families.  Many of the school's families do not know where to begin in school.  Many parents today never had an example of their parents supporting the school let alone they may not have enjoyed their personal schooling experience.  Why would they have a desire to serve?  You only know what you have experienced.

 

Make time to check out our site www.thesafeteam.com .  On the About SAFE page, click on the 40 Developmental Assets link.  This will tie in all the benefits of families and communities supporting their students both in school and out of school.

 

Jan 24, 2009 10:28 AM #48
Rainmaker
102,556
Liz Carter
Liz Carter & Team Realty-Your Real Estate Resource For Life! - Katy, TX
Broker/Owner of Liz Carter & Team Realty, Katy TX (Houston)

Russell...

Well you should have never let me see you dressed up as such a cute cuddly bear :)  Sure wish your first name was Ted, that would make it real easy, you would be my Teddy Bear of course.

What a great thing you do for those kids, and it must be very rewarding.  You are teaching them such a valuable lesson too.  Did you tell them about how long to wash their hands, while they sign Happy Birthday?  True story.

Looks like you have been hard at work you have almost caught me in points now...I better get busy.

Honestly I would have paid money to have seen the agents face if the conversation took place face to bear face, that would have been too funny!  If they had any sense of humor it should have smoothed the whole thing over :).  Maybe you should try wearing it the next time you have an appointment that might be a little tense...you know, kinda bread the ice so to speak.

Missed you tons, Liz

Jan 24, 2009 06:19 PM #49
Rainer
8,874
Jeannette Spinelli
Austin Portfolio Real Estate - Austin, TX

I commented on this post earlier but wanted to add that you are to be congratulated because this is just another reason the Austin Board of Realtors chose you as the Community Service member of the year. That is a great honor when you consider that there are over 10,000 agents in Central Texas!

Jan 25, 2009 02:05 AM #50
Rainmaker
340,701
Art Kruschka
Administrative Manager - Manassas, VA
Manassas Woodbridge Dumfries Real Estate Sevices

Russell  That has to be one of the most rewarding "serve my community" programs you are involved in - your community is fortunate to have you being a part of it,  Art

Jan 25, 2009 02:07 AM #51
Rainmaker
246,926
Gena Riede
Riede Real Estate, Lic. 01310792 - Sacramento, CA
Real Estate Broker - Sacramento CA Real Estate (916) 417-2699

Russell, remember Smokey, the Bear? Now, we have Russell, the Health Bear...are you ready for lights, action and a TV spot? You've got my vote!

What a great way to give back to your community. Kudos

Jan 25, 2009 03:03 AM #52
Rainmaker
516,229
Russell Lewis
Realty Austin, Austin Texas Real Estate - Austin, TX
Broker,CLHMS,GRI

Scott You are so right that it is the efforts of the individuals, parents and community that help a school excel! I will check out your site and thanks so much for contributing to this discussion!

Liz Actually I could imagine you dressed up in a costume! You have such a great sense of humor and enthusiasm that it would not surprise me at all. Especially if it had to do with helping your community! As far as that other agent, the look and the nurse and principal's faces were priceless. They thought I was just a sweetie all the time!  Anyway, it is so good to see you back and I am happy you are improving and back in the world again. We have MISSED YOU!

Jeannette Thank so much for the compliment. It was truly an honor to be chosen out of so many people who give to our wonderful city!

Art Thanks for dropping by. I do participate in many volunteer efforts and this is one that is always fun! I also admire the way you and Karen contribute to your local community!

Gena That's funny you mentioned Smoky Bear because a couple of others also commented on that. Bears do have a big impact on kids, especially if they are friendly!

Jan 25, 2009 05:14 AM #53
Rainmaker
516,229
Russell Lewis
Realty Austin, Austin Texas Real Estate - Austin, TX
Broker,CLHMS,GRI

Debe OOPS! I almost missed you. I also wish my assistant could generate these market reports but I would spend as much time explaining as I would doing it myself. Thanks again for dropping by and i am glad you and Karen were able to connect. Meeting others with common interests, ethics and personalities is my favorite part of Active rain!

Jan 25, 2009 05:17 AM #54
Anonymous
Erin

Russell you are too much! What a fun and slightly crazy way to help spread a very important message!

Jan 25, 2009 09:08 AM #55
Rainer
194,732
Elizabeth Nieves
The Elizabeth Nieves Realty Group - Durham, NC
Bilingual Raleigh - Durham North Carolina Real Estate Team

I love, love, LOVE this post!! I've just got to include it in my week in review. :-) You are such a good guy! ~GBU~

Jan 25, 2009 09:20 AM #56
Rainmaker
516,229
Russell Lewis
Realty Austin, Austin Texas Real Estate - Austin, TX
Broker,CLHMS,GRI

Erin It is s fun way to help out and yes more than just a little crazy!

Elizabeth it's so good to hear from you and thanks for the compliment! I also appreciate being included in the weekly review! Have a good week my friend!

Jan 25, 2009 10:57 AM #57
Ambassador
875,249
Connie Harvey
Pilkerton Realtors - Brentwood, TN
Realtor - Nashville TN Real Estate

Russell, she did indeed put you in the week in review. I'm really glad too because I would have missed this. What a great story! AND reading your comments to Debe about the market report sent me to Karen's blog to learn more. :)

Anyway, I don't have children, but have volunteered at the Tennessee Baptist Children's home for several years now. I'm not sure it's as fun as the bear. LOL I think everyone should find a place to volunteer. They can't know how much it does for the community and for ourselves!

Jan 25, 2009 10:42 PM #58
Rainmaker
2,355,532
Rebecca Gaujot, Realtor®
Perry Wellington Realty, Adam Conrad, Broker - Lewisburg, WV
Lewisburg WV, the go to agent for all real estate

Russell.... What a  great way to give back to your community.  It sounds like you have a lot of fun  with the bear costume.

Jan 25, 2009 10:49 PM #59
Rainmaker
516,229
Russell Lewis
Realty Austin, Austin Texas Real Estate - Austin, TX
Broker,CLHMS,GRI

Connie I am so glad that you were able to see and learn about others here at Active Rain. I always enjoy getting to know more about agents with whom I share similar work ethics and ideas! I like that you volunteer in your community because it's one of the things I enjoy outside of my real estate business!

Rebecca Now that I have admitted it, I should also say that it's probably the silliness of the costume that keeps me coming back! Thanks for dropping by!

Jan 26, 2009 02:16 AM #60
Rainmaker
153,894
Kathy Opatka
RE/MAX CROSSROADS - Ocean City, MD
Serving Ocean City, MD, & The Delaware Beaches

You go, RussBear!

Anything to convince our kids about good hygiene, even if it's prancing bears! As a former teacher, it always amazed me that the children paid much more attention (and remembered more!) from a guest than they did from me!!!

Thanks for DOING!

Kathy Opatka, Re'Max Premier Properties, OCEAN CITY,MARYLAND

Jan 26, 2009 08:48 AM #61
Rainmaker
516,229
Russell Lewis
Realty Austin, Austin Texas Real Estate - Austin, TX
Broker,CLHMS,GRI

Kathy It is funny how a guest appearance by a bear can temporarily upstage the teachers but it's one of the things that makes it work! I have always thought that teachers entering real estate would do well to improve our profession because of the level of commitment, ethics and persistence they bring from the job of teaching! I hope you are doing well!

Jan 26, 2009 11:43 AM #62
Rainmaker
288,818
Pippa Mac
Chevaux Group Realtor, The Woodlands and Spring - The Woodlands, TX
The Woodlands TX Real Estate

Russell .... you are sooo much fun!  pippa

Jan 28, 2009 12:39 PM #63
Anonymous
Karen David-Mohr

You never cease to amaze me Russell.  This is the best yet!!!  No wonder your kids are such good kids.  It takes parent involvement no matter what your asked to do. Now not sure about a "Bear"!!!

Jan 28, 2009 01:11 PM #64
Rainmaker
516,229
Russell Lewis
Realty Austin, Austin Texas Real Estate - Austin, TX
Broker,CLHMS,GRI

Pippa Good to see you here, I figure you must be busy. Like you I try to help out in the schools that are in the areas where I work and yes I always try to make it fun!

Karen Thank you for your compliment! I keep thinking our children have turned out fairly well (so far!!!) because they have such a great MOM! Hey, I will be by your office next week and will call first!

Jan 29, 2009 12:25 AM #65
Rainer
25,936
Jennifer Kipila
Van Dyk Group - Barnegat, NJ
The Muldowney Team - Ocean County Homes

That is incredible that you have done it for 15 years.  Great job.

Feb 26, 2009 07:06 AM #66
Rainmaker
516,229
Russell Lewis
Realty Austin, Austin Texas Real Estate - Austin, TX
Broker,CLHMS,GRI

Jennifer Thanks, I have one principal and two Nurses that I still work with and over the years have figured out new and interesting ways of making it fun!

Feb 26, 2009 08:16 AM #67
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