KW Cares responds after Hurricane Ian with $3.3M in support
The Keller Williams nonprofit has been raising donations and sending supplies to storm victims in Florida.
- KW Cares has assisted Keller Williams agents, associates and their immediate families.
- The organization set up “command centers” in southwest Florida to distribute nearly 1,500 generators to households without power.
- With a small staff, the agency relies on dozens of volunteers in impacted communities.
After Hurricane Ian swept through southwest Florida, KW Cares — the philanthropic arm of Keller Williams — sprang into action. The organization's mission is to swiftly provide assistance to Keller Williams agents, associates and their families after sudden emergencies.
The hurricane, which packed winds of up to 150 mph, made landfall in southwest Florida on Sept. 28. Just over a week later, KW Cares had purchased hundreds of generators for distribution at hubs in Sarasota, Punta Gorda and Estero.
But there was still work to be done. In the days after Hurricane Ian, the nonprofit leveraged the help of dozens of agents and associates as volunteers to process applications for emergency help.
As of Oct. 20, the organization has approved more than 458 emergency grants totaling $1.5 million — and counting — to impacted Keller Williams agents, associates and their families.
"We have staffed phone lines round the clock to provide timely services to grantees," said KW Cares CEO Alexia Rodriguez. "When we tell people they have been approved for grants, they sometimes break down and cry," Rodriguez said in an interview.
People may receive grants of up to $5,000 to cover emergency costs for basic necessities, such as lodging, food and clothing.
KW Cares also hired vendors to place tarps over houses damaged by the storm, and remove drywall and carpeting affected by flooding. More than 20 homeowners received help that totaled $50,000.
As of early October 19, KW Cares has provided $3.3 million in assistance to agents, associates and their immediate family members. "We will continue to keep the phone lines open. This storm has been so devastating," Rodriguez said.
At Keller Williams, a 'culture of giving back'
Charles and Frances Shafe were among the recipients of support from KW Cares after the hurricane knocked out their power. In a thank-you letter to the organization, they wrote, "We had been five days without power when the generator arrived. Woohoo…electricity coming to the rescue of our refrigerator and freezer and more…. Thank you again to KW Cares; that certainly demonstrated to us that all KW Realtors truly are compassionate and care for others by virtue of their voluntary donations that fund KW Cares."
The couple's daughter, Angela Holton, and granddaughter, Alissa Holton Noble — both Keller Williams agents in the Orlando area — initiated the request to KW Cares.
The organization, now in its 19th year, maintains a small staff but has been able to count on people giving their time when needed. "We rely on a whole volunteer system, the Keller Williams leadership in affected areas," Rodriguez said. "I have been working with nonprofits for 30 years and I have never seen donors this generous. There is a culture here of giving back."
How to help — and get help
Want to provide assistance to people at Keller Williams facing losses from the storm? You can go online to make a donation through KW Cares. "We will continue to accept donations through our website as every penny helps," Rodriguez said. KW associates displaced by the storm and/or suffering property damage and losses can still apply for an emergency grant through KW Cares.