Beacon of Hope: Employees give back at ‘Hope House’

Published 4:31 am Wednesday, May 15, 2019

The employees at Keller Williams Realty Services (KWRS) typically are busy helping to sell homes, but on Thursday they donated their time to helping to clean one up.

Dozens of employees and volunteers came out that morning to paint, landscape and improve the campus of Children’s Advocacy Center-Hope House, located at 521 Ave. F in Bogalusa. Hope House is located next to First Baptist Church of Bogalusa, and its mission is to end the cycle of child abuse in the communities it serves.

Dawn Forshag-Cazedessus, CEO and Business Coach for KWRS out of Mandeville, said that the company participates in “RED Day” each year as an international day of service. The acronym of “RED” stands for renew, energize and donate. This year, KWRS of Mandeville decided to do its RED Day project with The Hope House.

Forshag-Cazedessus said that the Mandeville firm has been participating in RED Day for 11 years, but this was the first time it did an improvement project at a Bogalusa location. She said that the project arose somewhat by accident, as initially the KWRS employees were only planning to work at the Hope House location in Covington. However, they discovered that Bogalusa had a location as well, and decided to split up the team between both locations.

“It’s our way of becoming good partners for our community,” she said.

Forshag-Cazedessus estimated that about “90 percent” of Thursday’s volunteers were KWRS associates or their family members. The rest were community volunteers — including some that were affiliated with groups like Bogalusa Citizens for Art and Culture and Greater Bogalusa Community Center, who learned about the project through social media and offered their time and talents.

“We had some community volunteers who showed up as early as 7 a.m.,” she said. “It was so sweet. This organization (The Hope House) obviously plays a great role in this community, and we are happy to do what we can to help.”

Forshag-Cazedessus said that some KWRS scouted out the Bogalusa location of The Hope House ahead of time, and quickly realized that “it needed a lot of work” and would be a great service project for RED Day.

Charlotte Johnson, one of the KWRS associates volunteering Thursday in Bogalusa, said that she is proud to work for a company that believes in “giving back.”

“This is our way to show our pride in the community where we work,” she said. “It’s giving something back to them. I think it’s important to work for a company that has values like this.”

KWRS is located at 1522 W. Causeway Approach in Mandeville and has 270 sales associates, serving an area that includes Washington Parish.