The Lotus House
CORAL GABLES, Fla. — When Barbara Tria, a commercial real estate specialist and senior broker-associate with Kerdyk Real Estate in Coral Gables, first moved to Florida in the late 1990s, she knew she wanted to get involved with the community.
“I come from a background of music,” says Tria, who is 2015 president of the Realtors Commercial Alliance, Miami Realtors®. “I’m a closet cellist.” That’s why the Fairchild Tropical Botanic Gardens, which serves as a backdrop for many classical concerts, interested her.
The Gardens had one large fundraiser each year, and Tria worked on that committee.
She and a friend then developed the business model, and it’s become a significant part of the overall auction, raising a large portion of the total funds.
“In real estate, we’re taught to feel comfortable asking for things. We’re connectors. My friend and I activated others. Once you break the ice and show them that they can do it, they step up to the plate,” she says. “I did that for six years, and it was so much fun. Finally, I stepped down to let others bring their point of view to the project and continue to improve on the idea.”
For Tria, community service means acting as a connector.
She finds that her skills are best suited to helping others raise funds and putting people together to meet the needs of a cause.
However, it is one woman who inspires Tria daily – Constance Collins, president, executive director and founder of Lotus House, a nonprofit homeless shelter with support services, resources and education programs for women and children.
“I met Constance when she and two partners were making private equity investments in downtown Coral Gables. I was working alongside another Realtor to help them obtain and reposition assets along the Miracle Mile in Coral Gables,” says Tria.
During the rehabilitation efforts, Constance would see a homeless woman milling around. “Constance would find resources and support for this woman to help get her back on her feet,” Tria said.
As Constance learned more about that woman, and more about the plight of area homeless women and children, who were dealing with very different problems than men (pregnancy, domestic violence and more), she realized that more options were needed to provide shelter, assistance and eventually, permanent housing.
Members of CREW (Commercial Real Estate Women) Miami helped Constance find an apartment building, while a large network of real estate professionals, including contractors, architects and attorneys assisted in the acquisition and renovation of the building – turning it into the Lotus House Shelter.
“Now the Sundari Foundation owns four buildings in one city block. It’s magical what Constance has done and how she’s changing lives,” says Tria, who helps fundraise for the charity. “She sets a wonderful example, and I look up to her. It’s inspired me to seek out opportunities to help others.”
Time and talents
She adds, “I hope to be able to do more someday.”
For now, Tria will continue to search for what’s needed and figure out how to provide solutions.
“It enriches my life, giving my time and talent even if it’s just making a connection,” she says. “There’s nothing I love more than when someone calls me, and I can source organizations or people to assist them.
“We make connections in real estate and those same connections can be used to uplift others.”
As a member of the Miami Association of Realtors® and current president of its Realtors® Commercial Alliance (RCA), Tria is as dedicated to her profession as she is to helping her community. Her RCA peers honored her as the Commercial Realtor of the Year in 2012. She also is a member of the International Council of Shopping Centers (ICSC), and an active member of CREW Miami.