KW Southwest Keller Williams Realty Giving Where We Live

Vickie Coates, Norman Lew,
Kimbra Valachovic, Valerie Diaz
and Michael Wong with Bentley.
Photo by Nesossi Studios.

COVER STORY  | By Subrata Barot –

Renowned theoretical physicist Albert Einstein once said, “Only a life lived for others is a life worthwhile.” And real estate powerhouse Keller Williams Realty (KW) Southwest in Sugar Land lives those words throughout the year.

Renew, Energize and Donate

Keller Williams Realty is not only the largest real estate franchise in the world with more than 790 offices and 134,000 associates, it also has a unique corporate culture that places emphasis on charitable and philanthropic initiatives. The organization dedicates an entire day to service for others, also known as RED Day – Renew, Energize and Donate. RED Day is an initiative that seeks to improve local communities through philanthropic activities. On the second Thursday of May, associates at Keller Williams Realty offices worldwide spend the day away from their desks and business to serve organizations around their communities.

KW Southwest RED Day participants Alice Zhang and Christine Fuentes.

In 2009, RED Day was presented as a 70th birthday gift for Vice Chairman of the Board of Directors Mo Anderson. Anderson is considered the company’s “Cultural CEO” and “The heart of Keller Williams” and has essentially set the tone for Keller Williams’ corporate culture. Anderson single-handedly cultivated the company’s value system and is dedicated to helping people experience the higher purpose of business – caring, sharing and giving.

“What can you give someone who can buy anything she wants?” asked Real Estate Advisor Kimbra Valachovic. “This was the brainchild of someone who worked with her in Austin. This day caught on beautifully because of the culture of our company.”

2017 RED Day

RED Day volunteers participating in a community building activity with residents and staff at Parks Youth Ranch.

This year’s RED Day is set for Thursday, May 11th. The agents and staff at KW  Southwest will don their bright red T-shirts and other red paraphernalia and have the chance to participate in three different activities around the county. Throughout the day, KW Southwest staff will give their time and manpower to Parks Youth Ranch, the Fort Bend Animal Shelter and Fort Bend Family Promise.

Richmond-based Fred and Mabel R. Parks Youth Ranch opened in February 2011 and is a non-profit organization that serves at-risk and homeless youth, providing them a safe, supportive and structured environment. The emergency shelter is offered to boys and girls ages seven to 17 for a 90 day period. KW Southwest has plans to host a super hero themed party at Parks Youth Ranch, where residents ages 14 to 17 can enjoy pizza, ice cream and other activities.

Another favorite of KW Southwest, the Fort Bend Animal Shelter in Rosenberg will once again see many agents band together to complete a herculean list of things to do. The list includes administering a cat and dog food drive at KW Southwest’s offices, requesting veterinary clinics for animal testing kits and building a 10 by 12 foot storage space for the facility, among other things. Agents are also being encouraged to contribute to the pet food drive and ask their spheres of influence to donate.

Walter Reed, Vickie Coates, Vivian La, Chad St. Jean, Linda Day, Mike Wong, Winona Smith, Toni Williams, D.J. Parker, Stacy Escobedo, Sharon Parker, Liam Hattan, Sandy Lawrence, Brian Hattan, Kimbra Valachovic, Jose Escobedo and Norman Lew.

KW Southwest 2017 RED Day organizer Melissa Salies added that the Fort Bend Animal Shelter has no funds to test an animal’s health when it is brought to the facility. To combat spreading disease, they are hoping veterinarians are able to donate testing kits for animals. Salies said that she hopes KW Southwest can succeed in finding community involvement for both the pet food drive and testing kit donations.

Lastly, agents from KW Southwest will also have the opportunity to spend their day at Missouri City’s Fort Bend Family Promise – an organization that helps meet the immediate needs of homeless families while they attain self sufficiency. Salies said they intend to host a drive for Fort Bend Family Promise at their offices and encourage the public to donate items to the organization. They are asking the public to donate basic, everyday items, including towels, toiletries and laundry soap, that can help these families with basic necessities.

This year, KW Southwest is turning RED Day into RED Week. In addition to the three events on RED Day, the agency will work in conjunction with the Gulf Coast Regional Blood on Friday, May 12th to sponsor a blood drive on their parking lot grounds. On Saturday, May 13th, the office will also host their third “Shredding Hunger” event. Local business and families are invited to bring paper materials they would like shredded to the Pro Shred truck on the KW Southwest premises in return for canned goods or nonperishable food items to benefit Lunches of Love. Agents will also be encouraged to walk at least a two-mile block from their residence to gather food items for the Shredding Hunger event.

Giving Year Round

KW Southwest agents and RED Day volunteers Valerie Diaz and Tony Gross.

Though RED Day is an important day to the corporate culture of Keller Williams Realty, KW Southwest seeks to volunteer time, effort and monetary funds to charitable organizations and underserved communities. From volunteering at women’s shelters and hosting blood drives to restoring homes and helping individual families suffering from the effects of a health condition, KW Southwest has done it all throughout the year.

“We all like to give back and be involved in the community,” said KW Southwest Realtor and Director of Commercial Real Estate Mike Wong. “In addition to RED Day, we have our own smaller events and activities that do not encompass the entire office staff. They are personal in nature.”

Wong has spearheaded past RED Days and is a fervent advocate for pet adoptions as his own pet is a rescue dog from the Sugar Land Animal Shelter. Much of his efforts and support go to pet shelters in the area. On his pet’s adoption anniversary, Wong returns to the Sugar Land Animal Shelter and donates pet food for the other animals. In the past he has also paid the fees for people who want to adopt a pet from the shelter.

CaSandra Como, Winona Smith, Rose Febus, Tenzesta Smith and Sylvia Carpenter.

Valachovic, who is also associated with Child Advocates of Fort Bend, said many KW Southwest agents are connected to different organizations that benefit the underserved and underprivileged and health conditions, among other things. “One of our agents, Susan Garczynski is the founder of The Autism Playgroup of Fort Bend County. Two of our other agents – Victoria ‘Vicky’ Coates and Linda Day – have held directorship positions with East Fort Bend Human Needs. Many agents work with the little league teams across the county.”

Wong added that he works with agents who give back to the community on a year-round basis. The company culture inspires many KW Southwest agents to engage in charitable opportunities on their own. Giving is undoubtedly ingrained in their culture.

“I definitely think we are educating others on how to give back,” Wong said. “I think it’s a great opportunity for anyone who wants to get involved in their community and serve those who they may not reach in their line of work.”

Agent Valerie Diaz expressed that the satisfaction they get when someone they have helped contacts them to express their gratitude is unparalleled. She said the office has received countless phone calls and text messages from organizations where they have volunteered. “There is more to real estate than buying and selling houses,” said Diaz. “We want to make a difference in our community. This is the spirit of our company – giving where we live.”

For more information, contact KW Southwest at 281-265-0000 or visit