Long Doan, REALTORS and Spare Key: If you listen for it you can find gratitude

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Against a backdrop of incessant noise that blares with negativity I find the solitude of gratitude to be a comforting silence.

Which is, for more times than I can remember, where I found myself this Thursday; surrounded, literally, by men and women who are involved in the Real Estate industry.

More specifically, Realtors – and those who support them with their various services, products and solutions.

Spare Key was provided the opportunity to participate in this year’s Minnesota REALTORS UNITE! State Convention in St. Paul.

As we have had the good fortune to do for five years with their peers at the North Dakota Association of REALTORS and the South Dakota Association of REALTORS the good people of the Minnesota REALTORS wanted to give us a platform to share our mission and to raise some funds to support it.

Chris Galler, the CEO of the Minnesota REALTORS, an 18,000-member strong organization, approached us with an open heart and asked if we would participate with this year’s event.

We, of course, accepted the invitation barely before the words left his lips.

And, yesterday I, along with Spare Key Team Members Abby Hunt and Jackson Larson, got to spend our with a lot of those members of the Minnesota REALTORS.

Jackson, always one to lift your spirit with his faith and his love of life and others, gave us the privilege of hearing his story, shared with courage, in a room filled with awe.

And, before you ask the question, “Did you raise any money?”

The answer is yes!

Through $15,000 raised by hundreds of Minnesota REALTORS in about 12 minutes, passing around little Spare Key houses, we were able to match their generosity with $15,000 from the Richard M. Schulze Family Foundation for a total of $30,000.

Not bad for 12 minutes.

But this post isn’t really about the money.  Even though, it seems, in the work that I do as Executive Director for Spare Key it is always about the money.

It’s really about the generosity of people in the world I have found myself in the non-profit world for nearly seven years.

People like Long Doan

Long, who serves as a member of the Spare Key Board of Directors, is a powerful force of nature.

I have known Long for several years.  But, always on the periphery.

We would run into one another at different events and I would always wonder who this person was who was always in a hurry, but oozed passion and sincerity.

Over time, and through conversations with others, I was convinced that he would make a valuable member of my Board of Directors.

And, before I go much further I want to emphasize that I have an amazing Board of Directors.

The growth and impact of Spare Key since I took the reins of the organization simply could not happen without three things:

A small, but dedicated, staff.

Generous and kind donors.

Committed and passionate Board Members.

In the RiverCentre for the Minnesota REALTORS were other Spare Key Board Members, or the companies which our Board Members work.

People like Belinda Price of Movement Mortgage – a person who is intense, sincere and gracious and kind.

Her presence on our Board of Directors has brought us national attention through the Movement Foundation, as well as significant funds to support our mission.

Of course, there is Cindy Koebele, CEO and Founder of TitleSmart.  Our Board President, Cindy is a whirling dervish of activity, productivity and accomplishment.

I cannot even begin to describe the impact she has made on Spare Key during her time on our Board of Directors.

Wells Fargo was represented in the house – as it is on our Board of Directors with Dean Wahlin.  Dean’s integrity and sincerity is matched equally by being someone who delivers on his promises and commitments.

Which brings me back to Long Doan.

And the meaning of generosity.

Not just in money and deeds.

But in heart and in spirit.

In April 2017, in a story in Real Estate Magazine, Long is quoted as saying:

“My passion is to help people…and real estate is my platform to do that. This is my 25th year in the business. My parents have a great deal to do with my success today, but there’s a long story behind that.”

And, there is, indeed, a story behind that.

A story that includes being an 8-year-old child whose life is forever changed when Communists in Saigon ripped his family apart to being a 12-year old refugee fleeing persecution and oppression to, finally, being a 32-year-old who negotiated the release of his father to allow his family to come together again as one in the United States of America.

But there’s really no “finally” to Long Doan’s journey in life.

Nor is there any end to his passion for a life that has been a true measure of the spirit of generosity but also the power of the human spirit.

Today, Long, and his partner, Mike Bernier, lead Realty group, one of the largest independent real estate firms in Minnesota, winning numerous awards and ranking number one in the state for net growth.

Yet, as you read Long’s story in this article http://realestateagentmagazine.com/twin-cities/long-doan/ you can clearly tell that as proud as that accomplishment is in his life it pales in comparison to the pride he has in the people who have surrounded him in this world.

Gratitude may well be Long Doan’s middle name.

Which brings me back to base:  Gratitude.

Gratitude for REALTORS who fill little box houses made of cardboard with money and wait patiently for us to swipe their credit cards to raise funds for Spare Key.

Gratitude for Board Members, donors and staff who encourage, challenge, support and energize me on the few bad days, but mostly the good days, as the Executive Director of Spare Key.

Gratitude to people like Long Doan who remind me that it isn’t where we come from in life that defines us in the end, but what we have done with our life by the time of its end that will tell the true story of our journey.

I find the solitude of gratitude to be a powerful voice that drowns out the noise of a world that seems intent on pulling itself apart.

Because that voice, I truly believe, has the power to bring us together if we will simply take the time to listen to it.

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