Betty Custer and her RED Day helpers. PHOTO/KATHRYN KOROSTOFF
By Kathryn Korostoff
Southborough – Dan and Betty Custer were planning to sell their Southborough home and move to Virginia, when Dan suddenly became ill, passing away a few weeks later. For his widow, grieving the loss of her husband and preparing for the impending move was extremely stressful. Coming in to ease her worries was a cavalry of volunteers.
Each year, the Keller Williams real estate firm holds a national, community service event, called the Renew, Energize and Donate (RED) Day. Held the second Thursday in May, tens of thousands of real estate agents from across the country participate in volunteer projects. The firm's offices were closed May 12, and all employees were encouraged to use the time to volunteer in their communities. Locally, that included coming to the aid of Betty, who's also a Keller Williams real estate agent. Teri Manning was one of the RED Day volunteers.
“This is our third annual RED Day,” Manning said, and it's always about giving back to the community.
“We were planning to help the Custers before Dan passed away, and of course we really wanted to support Betty once things became even harder. It is really overwhelming to get your house ready to sell under any circumstances, and this is what we do to help other people. So, we thought we's help one of our own this time.”
On May 12, 17 volunteers arrived at 9:30 a.m. and worked through 5 p.m. They painted, stripped wallpaper, moved furniture and cleaned all day.
Betty, an 84-year-old Southborough resident, described how she really needed the help.
“I was overwhelmed with all that needed to be done. They have completely removed the old wallpaper from one of the rooms and now they are sanding. They will be repainting it next. Furniture has been moved and everything is organized in the garage for the move to Virginia. They even planted flowers outside.”
Being real estate agents, the volunteers also had the skills to help Betty prepare her home for an upcoming open house. In addition to repair work, the agents brought in a staging expert to advise on where to move furniture and relocate wall art for maximum appeal.
“The work has been absolutely amazing,” Betty said. “The house already looks like new. All the focus has been on just making it a house someone would truly want to buy.”
“Every year we'se open to ideas,” Manning said, “and help somebody in the community.”
In past years, the group has worked for food pantries and other charitable organizations.