Local realtors help spruce up homes to help local community
Gail Maholick/TIMES NEWS Kathy Henderson, a member of the Carbon County Assocation of Realtors, puts a coat of bright red paint on a door as part of the National Realtors Assocation request for local realtors to do a community service project during October.
During October, the National Association of Realtors and the Pennsylvania Association of Realtors encourages local realtors to step out into their community to support a worthwhile cause.
They found their calling by helping clients of Peaceful Knights spruce up their apartments.
Peaceful Knights is a non profit corporation that helps adult men and women who are from Carbon County or live in Carbon who need temporary safe shelter and access to local organizations that provide assistance.
The local realtors project was coordinated by Paula Fritzinger, who chairs the community services committee for the Carbon County Association of Realtors.
The project included painting, putting up ceiling tiles and performing light repairs to three apartments that house clients of Peaceful Knights.
For Kim E, who was homeless for six months, having safe shelter is a godsent. Before coming to Peaceful Knights, she was living in a tent along the Appalachian Trail with about 20 or so other homeless people.
Her life spiraled out of control when her husband died and then six months later she lost her job because her appendix burst and her employer fired her when she did not report to work at 8 a.m. after her 5 a.m. surgery.
Kim said that many people are not aware of the homeless population along the trail because the homeless people try to stay invisible, hiding from hikers and others to protect what little they have.
"One day I went into Palmerton to get food and while I was there, someone stole my clothing," she said. "It wasn't much, but it was all I had. It was mine and now it was gone."
She said that while living on the trail, she was constantly moving because of the possibility of being found.
"We had our own community," she added. "We helped each other. We had our own family."
Now Kim is living in a two-bedroom apartment in Lehighton, which has a newly painted red front door, new celing tiles in the bathroom and new white paint on the door frame. She shares the space with another woman.
Matt Taylor is another client who has a nicer residence thanks to the local realtors.
Taylor said he was injured on the job, but when workmen's comp would not pay compensation, he was out of a job, his home and for a time depended on friends and family. When those resources ran out, he had no roof over his head and sought help from Peaceful Knights.
For Shawn, he was working in Bethlehem, when he was laid off in September and couldn't find a job. As a former client of Peaceful Knights, he came back to ask for help when he needed help.
"They took me back," said Shawn.
Aggie Shehadeh, director for Peaceful Knights, said that she has received 200 calls from all over the country seeking this program. "We only take people from Carbon County or who are in Carbon County." The organization only helps adults because the organization has no resources to help families. Anyone with children is referred to another organization.
Does Peaceful Knights made a difference?
For Robert Clifford, it did. Clifford has his own place in Lansford and is saving his money.
"I needed to learn how to live a normal routine," he said. "I learned to get up at a certain time, look for work, keep normal hours and no drug usage.
Clifford noted that part of his problem was that he was rebellious and hot headed.
"I'm happy and I have my own place," he said. "I like my life."
Local realtors who helped make a difference were Bonnie Hoffman, Kathy Henderson, Nick Heist, Ann Velopolcek, Chad Fritzinger, Paula Fritzinger and Rita Spinelli.