Finding Solutions For The Homeless in America
Even the best public speakers sometimes have an off day.
That’s how Sherri Meadows felt one day back in 2007 after speaking to a room full of REALTORS® in Tampa.
As the president of the state chapter of the Women’s Council of REALTORS®, Meadows was travelling around the state offering an inspirational speech with a theme of “Imagine, Believe and Achieve.”
And while she had given this speech many times, trying to inspire her colleagues to go out and do the things necessary to not only better themselves, but to better their communities, Meadows felt there was something missing at this event.
“I just didn’t feel like I had connected with that audience,” she said. “Something didn’t feel right.”
But something was right. More right than she could have ever imagined. So much so that it led her on a path to a whole new message. One that now, nearly a decade later, is a triumphant success story for REALTORS® nationwide.
There he was in the back of the room, listening intently as Meadows spoke. A man employed by the venue to help serve the patrons and then clean up after the event was over. Meadows noticed him from the dais. She could tell he was listening to what she had to say.
As the event died down and mostly everyone left, the waiter stopped busing a table for a moment to approach Meadows.
“I want you to know that your speech today had a real impact on me and it has given me hope,” he said to her.
That made Meadows feel good. She was glad her message got through to someone, even if it wasn’t one of the realtors in attendance.
But it was what he said next that really blew her away.
“I’m homeless,” he said. “I live in a shelter. When I get home from work, I find that others have rummaged through my things. They ridicule me because I’m working and trying to be somebody. They tell me I’ll never amount to anything. But after hearing you speak today, I promise you that the next time you see me, I will be somebody.”
It hit Meadows like a ton of bricks.
She never forgot the conversation. A few years later, once she became president of the Florida REALTORS®, she had the opportunity to select a charity that the state would raise money to support.
Thinking of that waiter, Meadows decided instead of raising money, she wanted to raise awareness. It was a pretty good idea coming off a multi-year recession.
Doing some research, she found that there were 63,000 school-age children in Florida who were classified as homeless.
Doing some research, she found that there were 63,000 school-age children in Florida who were classified as homeless. Nobody in the schools knew they were homeless, but it had become epidemic with so many houses having been foreclosed, families were forced to live in hotels, or mobile homes, or with other friends or families.
“We knew there were veterans who were homeless and the mentally ill who were homeless but this was a completely different group of people. It was entire families that we needed to focus on.”
The outreach lasted several months and was successful in Florida.
Meanwhile NAR was ramping up a similar campaign, and Meadows and her team helped enrich the platform.
Continue Reading: REALTORS® from across the country come together…