Staff and agents from a real estate company in Hawaii are using their business contacts and interior design expertise to improve the lives of homeless families in Iwilei.
Coldwell Banker Pacific Properties volunteers have been working for three weeks to renovate two rooms in the Institute for Human Services’ shelter for women and families on Kaaahi Street.
They reached out to contractors and tapped their own prowess at sprucing up homes on the market in the hopes of transforming a family room and children’s learning center into two modern living spaces.
The $10,000-plus project is the first by the company’s "Agents for Change," a Hawaii group of Coldwell staff and agents who are independent contractors dedicated to community service.
The project also marks Coldwell’s 15th anniversary in the islands, said Robyn Schaef er, the project manager and a Coldwell Realtor.
The shelter does "so many good things with the children and the families in getting them back on their feet," she said. "We’re just trying to enhance the environment. Try to make it feel more homey, clean and comfortable."
Scores of agents and staff members have been raising money or helping with the renovation. About a dozen volunteers tackled smaller projects yesterday, sanding wooden chairs and sorting shelter items.
Sara Buck, 13, an eighth-grader at Punahou School, joined her mother to lend a hand before her afternoon basketball practice. She hopes the renovation will give residents a place where "they really don’t have to worry, and they can just kind of relax."
Campbell High School sophomore Anthony Pantaleo, 15, surprised his mother, office manager Donna Pantaleo, when participated yesterday in a second day of community service.
"If I wasn’t here, I’d just be at home watching TV," he said. "Better to do something."
During the past few weeks, the volunteers have planned the decor of the rooms, repainted walls using color-coordinated themes, and bought matching furniture. Some mismatched furniture from the rooms already has found a new place in the shelter or has been cleaned up for reuse.
The Realtors asked contractors — including an architect, painter, electrician and plumber — to help with skilled jobs, such as removing the family room ceiling to expose high wall windows that let in natural light. An architect designed a wall arch for the family room.
Kate Bepko, IHS spokeswoman, said the building is a former textile warehouse being leased from the city, and the rooms haven’t been remodeled in more than four years.
Project coordinators slated the completion of the project for the company’s anniversary on Dec. 8.
"It’ll be nice afterward," said Tasha Minton, who is staying at the shelter with her 2-week-old son.