Paying It Ahead: How KW Tradition Permits Jennifer Barnes to Feed Extra Than 26K Neighborhood Members

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Jennifer Barnes

Because the world began altering in March of 2020 and the primary shutdowns brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic started, Keller Williams agent Jennifer Barnes awoke with concern, compassion, and repair in her coronary heart and a specific concern for 10 households inside her group. 

“I used to be panicked as a result of these youngsters are hungry generally on an excellent day,” Barnes recollects. “They had been getting their breakfast and lunch at college, however in-person education was getting canceled. So, in the event that they didn’t have that, they had been going to be hungry fairly rapidly,” she says. 

Over time, Barnes had gotten to attach deeply with these households, as she sponsored as many as 30 of their youngsters’s camp charges every summer season. So, she made a dedication to take care of them through the uncertainty. “We thought, effectively, this pandemic factor can’t final greater than two weeks, can it?” she recollects.

A Calling to Serve

Barnes lives and serves in one of many highest capita ZIP codes in Georgia, but there’s a group largely composed of underserved households working within the service business. As an increasing number of service employees had been laid off as companies closed indefinitely initially of quarantine, Barnes and her fellow volunteers – a bunch of 15 mothers – took on the cost of retaining these households from meals insecurity. They collected meals donations, arrange an internet site to maintain operations going, and ready to launch their first meals pantry choices on March 27, 2020.

“We thought we had a lot meals,” Barnes says. “We served 60 households, and we ran out of meals with 30 individuals nonetheless left on the sidewalk. That was only a snotty-boohoo-mom-cry at that time.”

After what she describes as a “15-minute pity social gathering,” Barnes received again to work, fueled by the expertise. Alongside fellow volunteers, she made calls, posted on Fb, and requested everybody she knew to donate meals. The following day, they served 105 households.

“We now have by no means left anybody on the sidewalk after that,” Barnes says.

Now open Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays from 9 a.m. to midday, the Solidarity Meals Pantry is housed in a former Publix grocery retailer and serves roughly 150 households every day it’s open. Up to now, the pantry has fed greater than 26,000 individuals since March 2020. Because the variety of households who’ve obtained meals from the pantry will increase, so have the numbers of donations and volunteers that come pouring in.

“Individuals simply need to assist, they usually simply need to know what to do to assist,” Barnes says. Up to now, they’ve had greater than 1,300 distinctive volunteers donate their time and efforts to the meals pantry. “It’s develop into a group motion … It’s heartwarming.”

Caring Begins at Dwelling

What’s now a motion has humble roots that may be traced again to Barnes’ profession with KW.

“You could have all these little tidbits in life, and you haven’t any thought what it’s for, after which impulsively the whole lot sort of falls into place,” Barnes says of how her actual property enterprise led to her work with the meals pantry.

Early in her profession, she opened 4 totally different KW franchise workplaces, the place she discovered business-building expertise like spreadsheets, budgets, and bookkeeping, to not point out having access to a lot of workers with a wide range of ability units. For instance, two weeks earlier than the primary pandemic shutdowns started, Barnes and her actual property staff employed a full-time advertising and marketing affiliate, who then ended up devoting a lot of her early weeks to growing signage, branding and logos for the meals pantry.

“Due to the Keller Williams background, we knew how you can create an entire model and an entire tradition and an entire feeling, and I believe that a part of it has permeated into the rationale individuals need to be right here,” Barnes says. “We’re a tradition of abundance, kindness and gratitude.”

Along with offering a mannequin for making a tradition of abundance, KW fairly actually gave Barnes the means to assist create the meals pantry by way of the revenue share the corporate provides its associates.

“The rationale I can do it is because I’ve a critically wholesome revenue share,” she says. “I’ve an curiosity in a number of workplaces, and I’ve a staff of individuals behind me. I’ve received critically proficient individuals on my staff.”

Whereas Barnes goes on just a few itemizing appointments lately, she’s largely faraway from the day-to-day points of the enterprise because the pandemic started and her days turned targeted on feeding others. Her staff stepped up and recorded the identical quantity over the previous yr, even with Barnes’ participation drastically decreased.

“You attain a maturity stage sooner or later the place you get as a lot pleasure from watching different individuals succeed as you do in your individual success,” she says. “When it quits being about you and begins being in regards to the staff, it brings a lot extra gratitude in life.”

Due to that leverage, Barnes now spends her days rising the meals pantry with plans to increase into providing her native underserved communities authorized help, well being care alternatives, and extra.

“Our objective is to work ourselves out of our enterprise, and I’m really dwelling my greatest life proper this minute,” she says. “We’re all put right here to lighten the burden of different individuals and simply to create pleasure and to make the world a greater place to be.”

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