PALM HARBOR – Broker associate Jodi Avery, of Keller Williams Realty in Palm Harbor, fielded the same question from sellers over and over: What can I do with the useable items I don’t want to take with me when I move?
“Sure, you can call Goodwill,” says Avery, “but they don’t take everything. I wanted to support small, local charities that had meaning.” So, she developed her Giving Matters initiative in 2017.
Through it, Avery, Florida Realtors® 2018 Humanitarian of the Year, finds local charities looking for specific items, such as the Adonai Foundation, which was looking for lawn equipment to support the lawn business they started to get previously drug-addicted men in functional jobs.
“People don’t know what to do with stuff and, when they’re moving, they run out of time, so they dump it,” says Avery. “One seller I worked with threw away a $5,000 couch!”
Avery works with many elderly clients who are moving from the family home to a nursing home or assisted living home. “The family needs the house cleared and there are so many charities out there ready to come pick up the items,” she says.
A member of the Pinellas Suncoast Association of Realtors®, Avery is currently working with 22 organizations in the Tampa Bay area that take everything from household items and furniture to bikes and eyeglasses. “I work with one non-profit that takes old bikes, restores them and donates them to the homeless.”
As a young child, Avery was enamored with Mother Teresa. “I read every article and book I could about her life. I was captivated by her deep faith, her humility, her compassionate heart and the passionate way she lived. She has been a true inspiration,” she says. “My belief in everything I do is motivated by one of my favorite quotes by Mother Teresa – ‘Let no one ever come to you without leaving better and happier. Be the living expression of God’s kindness: kindness in your face, kindness in your eyes, kindness in your smile!’”
Avery says these donations make a big impact. She recalls a time when “a client bought a house and it came with a washer and dryer, which wasn’t needed.” The woman asked Avery to get rid of them, so she contacted a local charity from her Giving Matters list and a family picked it up.
“They wrote a letter to the owner sharing that they had five children and were hand-washing and hanging the clothes to dry. They had come on hard times and were deeply grateful for the donation. The seller was brought to tears and realized the impact she could make in the community. She said she would have donated so much more if she knew where she could help others.”
Ironically, the person who donated the items is sometimes more impacted by the result than the person receiving the donation, according to Avery.
“Many elderly men and women moving to a nursing home are soothed by the fact that their possessions are going to people in need. It makes it a bit easier to part with things,” she says.
Avery sits on the Board of the Girls Scouts of West Central Florida and on the Board of the Answered Prayers Project.
“Life is about giving back and supporting each other,” she says. “My goal is to make a difference in the lives of every person I meet and have a meaningful impact on their lives and the community in which I live. I want to encourage people to not fit in but stand out and make a difference!”