MAY 24, 2020 - “Giving back is what McColly Real Estate is all about”, says Ron McColly, who founded McColly Real Estate in Merrillville 46 years ago. “It’s personal for the McColly agents and staff who are stepping forward to help during this pandemic.”
“We support the many organizations that are in our own backyard so to speak,” says Rhonda McColly-Fleener, McColly Real Estate’s Chief Operating Officer. “For four decades, McColly has made significant contributions to charities and organizations throughout the communities that have been such an integral part of making us the #1 real estate firm in Northwest Indiana and Chicago Southland.”
Kelly White, a broker at the McColly Portage office, purchased sandwich and cookie trays from Meijer in Portage and delivered them personally. Deliveries were made to the Hospital in Portage on Willowcreek Road, all three fire stations in Portage, their police department, post office and street department.
“I will also be sponsoring K9 Falco again this year,” says White about the Shepherd/Malinois mix who has dual duties in both narcotics and patrol K9. “I provided funds to cover the K-9’s vet bills and other needs for a year. This will be my second year in sponsoring Falco.”
An agent at McColly’s Schererville office, Jessica Kish, volunteers to serve on the developmental committee member at St. Jude House, an organization that shelters and helps victims of domestic and sexual abuse. The outbreak of Covid-19 caused a dramatic increase in the need for the services provided by St. Jude House. So to support this rise in demand, Kish purchased lunches from Lincoln Carry Outs, a burger, sub, and sandwich shop in Hobart that’s been in business for over 30 years and delivered them to all St. Jude House’s residents.
“I’ve always said that the more good you put into the world, the better the world becomes,” says Kish. “You don’t do this to get anything back from it, other than the feeling that you might have made someone’s day a little bit better.”
Kish has also had meals delivered to TradeWinds, a non-profit providing services for children of all abilities and adults with physical and intellectual disabilities who recently reopened their sewing shop to make masks and gowns and other PPE for local hospitals.
“I’ve been so taken aback by the kindness that’s been happening over the last six weeks or so,” says Kish. “I’m only one person, and I don’t have any special skills to help directly, but if I can bring joy to people with food then that’s one way for me to pay it forward.”
Joy Pawlak, from the McColly LaPorte office, is leading the LaPorte County Association of Realtors food drive. Their goal is to raise $7,000 to give to local food banks.
Dennis Keithley is a McColly Agent who loves his hometown of Lowell and whose Father was a bomber pilot in World War II. Dennis places American flags at all Veterans’ gravesites in the Sanders and West Creek Cemeteries on 205th and Calumet Avenues in Lowell.
The Lisa Grady Team also is providing meals to others in a show of support. The Lisa Grady Team delivered meals to the nurses, doctors, and first responders at Methodist Hospitals, Porter Regional Hospital, Franciscan Health Hammond, Community Hospital, and Franciscan Health Crown Point. The Lisa Grady Team also established a meal train for Crown Point first responders and contributed to the Schererville Meal Train.
“These are the people who have been supporting us at McColly for so many years, and we really believe in giving back,” says Grady. “I always tell my kids that it’s important to pay it forward when you can. You never know when you’re going to be in need. I might be in a good place right now, but in a year, I might not be, and I’d hope that someone would turn around and help. That’s just how we try to live.”
At the McColly Portage office, agent Alex Ridlen focuses on helping local businesses. Visiting area restaurants such as Schoop’s Hamburgers and Bam Pizza Company, Ridlen creates promotional videos for social media and also buys gift cards that he in turn donates to first responders and others in the community.
“With everything being shut down, I knew that those businesses would need the community’s help to thrive or even just to keep their doors open,” says Ridlen. “I thought what better way to help them than by supporting them directly with gift cards and hopefully inspiring more people to come by with my videos.”
Ridlen says that observing the many acts of kindness coming not only from his fellow agents but many others in the community make him proud as well as hopeful that we will all come through this.
“I’m not surprised at how the Region responded—it seems like whenever there’s a crisis or a group of people in need, I always see people step up and take the initiative to ensure those most vulnerable have the essentials they need,” he says.
The list of caring goes on.
Bill Rathjen, an Air Force veteran and residential / commercial Broker at the McColly Valparaiso office, made a personal cash donation to the Portage EDC for the purchase of KN-95 masks for local YMCA workers who are making meals for kids not in school.
Upon learning there was a dire need for masks, McColly Agents stepped up.
George Georgeff who works as a residential agent at the Highland Office and commercial agent for McColly Bennett Commercial Advantage, purchased (50) N-95 Masks that were available online in early April.
“I donated a box of (25) to Community Hospital and the remainder I gave away to several nurses I knew who worked in local hospitals. After I was able to purchase an additional (100) regular masks, I contacted several of my elderly clients of mine and gave masks to those that needed them.”
Jeanne Potosky at the McColly Crown Point office made and donated fabric masks to St. Mary’s and surgical hats and masks to Dyer ER.
“We made masks to donate to those who need them,” says husband and wife team Rich and Maria Todd who work at the Lowell office.
“I have been sewing masks for family and friends,” says Karen Stein of the Highland Office “The bulk of my masks are going to the Northwest Indiana Healthcare Workers. These masks are given to the area hospitals for doctors & nurses as well as 1st responders, police & fire departments. They will be distributed to anyone in need of a mask at the Northwest Indiana food bank pick-up.” “It has been very beneficial for me. In a small way I can help others in need in my community. “
When her daughter’s wedding in Ireland in early June was cancelled, Diane Farino at the Schererville office put aside, temporarily, the wedding dress she was making for her daughter, shifting into mask making for anyone who requested one. “Having accumulated all kinds of fabric over many years,” she says. “I was grateful for that since all the fabric stores were closed. Some of the recipients were essential businesses such as Herman’s Auto Center, Lexus of Naperville, my many friends who are in the medical and first responder field and, of course, all of my siblings and their extended families. I also carry extras with me in case I run into someone who needs one. If you or someone you know needs masks, I’m here for you.”
Seeing other needs, McColly Agents are getting creative.
Suzi Nurse, Portage office, has a list of names of elderly, sick or those with other needs and calls them weekly, checking to see if they need her to go to the grocery and/or pharmacy and just to let them know that she cares. She finds herself looking forward to the weekly calls which has led to her developing new friendships along the way.
"My husband and I donated homemade rustic birdhouses to some families who have children at home so they could decorate them,” says Brenda Spitz, Schererville office.
“We also donated more birdhouses to a nursing home. Besides donating to a Northwest Indiana food bank, a group of agents and I purchased lunches and gift cards for the secretaries for holding down the fort while all this is going on. A few weeks ago, I worked with the Imagine Griffith group planting the flowerpots in downtown Griffith.”
Trying to sweeten up the lives of elderly neighbors who are homebound, Cyndy Vander Giessen at the Highland office made banana bread and through her church, bought groceries and delivered them to the St. John Township Center. “Grace is the new normal,” she says.
At the Highland office, Mary Jane DiMichele said she was surprised to learn that something as easily acquired such as gently used eyeglasses can help so many people, so cost effectively.
“Not everyone around the globe can afford eyeglasses,” she says. “The Lions Club does their best to make this necessity a reality for them.”
Mary Jane prides herself in volunteering for the Crown Point Lions Club with like-minded individuals in the pursuit of primarily local causes such as Leader Dogs, eyeglass recycling, KidSight USA, NWI Special Education & Special Olympics, and Meals on Wheels to name a few.
Sara Risner at the McColly DeMotte office had two giveaways in April on her Facebook Business page in support of local businesses.
“I gave away a free family dinner from Heather’s Diner that was won by Cassie Kats. I also gave away a $25 gift card and two plants from local greenhouse Hennings,” she says. The winners were Haley and Jennifer Witherspoon and Tara Conley Main.
Heather McColly, Director of Career Development and the New Homes Division, participated in a weekly food drive with her Mother, Sandy McColly, from the McColly Corporate office, in addition to McColly Schererville Agent, Diane Pelis, and Tracy Parus, General Manager. Their church conducts a weekly food market, called Faith Family Market.’The need has been so, so dire with the onset of the pandemic. I was so glad to volunteer and donate food along with my Mom, Tracy and Diane,” added Heather.
Amanda Russell, from the McColly Schererville office, donated (100) KN-95 masks to St. Catherine’s Hospital, and catered lunch for two local senior homes.
In times of need, we don’t forget those individuals who have supported us in one form or another through the years.
Elena Andrade, Broker Associate with the McColly Highland Office, has helped close friends of the family with food and donations. A former teacher from Central High School in East Chicago, Indiana, Elena is also helping a teacher’s aide that was by her side for 15 years by continuing their pay for a couple of months.
Elena offers this advice to everyone...
“I encourage all to take COVID19 seriously, especially for the sake of your loved ones. Wear masks, gloves, and glasses while you’re out.”
Recognizing that our furry friends also may be suffering or in need during the pandemic, McColly Real Estate completed a month-long collection drive for various animal shelters in March. The McColly Charities Shelter Buddies Drive accepted donations of dog and cat food, toys, treats, and more at the various 23 McColly Companies offices. The items were distributed to Humane Indiana (Munster), Humane Society of Northwest Indiana (Miller), Lakeshore Paws (Valparaiso), Jasper County Animal Shelter, and South Suburban Humane Society in Chicago Heights.
“We started the drive before the COVID-19 pandemic hit,” says Monica Decker, Director of Marketing and Technology at McColly Real Estate. “When it ended, we really didn’t realize how much more meaningful the donations would be to the area shelters. One shelter representative nearly wept when she saw the volume of donations that were collected by the local communities.”
This media release originally appeared on VALPO.LIFE