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Windermere agents make giving fun

When is comes to real estate, the Windemere/Cronin and Caplan Realty Group in Lake Oswego is strictly big time.

It has 72 agents, all of them skilled in the art and business of real estate, and they have made Windemere truly a thriving concern.

But there is something even more remarkable about them than their ability to sell property: their spirit of giving.

The Windemere Foundation has been around since the founding of the company in 1971. For every transaction an agent makes, they donate a portion to the foundation; sometimes they donate even more.

'Giving to the community is the heart and soul of a company,' said Valarie Ross, principal broker and branch manager for Windemere in Lake Oswego. 'It's our tradition.'

Ross is right. In its corporate philanthropy report for 2006, Portland Business Journal ranked the Windemere Foundation sixth among businesses in Oregon and southwest Washington. With $446,000 coming from its 12 branch offices, Windemere was in the company of such huge corporations as Intel, U.S. Bancorp, Bank of America, PGE, and Pacific Power.

'We're with all of the big buck guys,' Ross said, with a big smile. 'And this is just individuals, each of us. It's the spirit of each individual agent realizing the need to keep giving.'

To get an idea of what this spirit is about, meet Traci Schumacher, a human ball of energy. Schumacher is a high producing realtor, branch representative for the Windemere Foundation - a time-consuming job in itself - and is in training for a marathon.

As can be expected, Schumacher's ambitions for Lake Oswego are quite high.

'Last year we were number two,' she said. 'This year we can be number one. With the activities we have coming up, I'm sure we can do it. You'd better believe it!'

'It's very, very friendly competition,' Ross said. 'But nonetheless it is competition.'

Ross and Schumacher have found a way to make fundraising fun, coming up with such events as the lapathon - set for Dec. 1 on the track at Lake Oswego High School - and Boutique/Poker Night, of which Ross notes, 'Poker is the quickest way to raise money.'

Sometimes the agents get creative on their own. Jennifer Noble set up a broker tour for a Westlake property on which she offered a $5 contribution for each broker who showed up. Fifty-one of them did.

Even better, the sellers were so impressed with Noble's effort they matched it, thus raising a cool $510.

'That proves you don't need to lure a broker with a Starbucks card or a bottle of wine,' Ross said.

Agents go the extra mile, too. Literally. Kathryn Rosendahl couldn't make it to the boutique/poker fundraiser on Nov. 16, so she pledged to participate in the Lapathon on Dec. 1 - for all five hours of the event.

'I believe what comes around, goes around,' Schumacher said. 'The time commitment of our agents is very consuming with the level of service we provide. But the money we raise comes right back here in our laps for people we know.'

'This all goes to charitable causes,' Ross said. 'None to administrative costs, like the big company foundations.'

While the Windemere Foundation raises money for several dozen charitable organizations, a new project that is dear to the agents' hearts is the Windemere House at Portland Hope Meadows. In fact, it's so near and dear that Ross can't talk about it without getting teary eyed.

'This house is one of 12 on a city block,' Ross said. 'They are going to be very quality foster care homes that must adopt five hard-to-place children.'

'We've got to raise $65,000 this year and for the next three years,' Schumacher said.

That is a big chunk of money, even for a bunch of go-getting givers. But how can you doubt that the Windemere agents will do it?

The Lapathon, called 'Laps That Count,' on Dec. 1 at Lake Oswego High School will be a gala fundraiser running from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Prizes will include memberships from 24-Hour Fitness, Nike giveaways and, the grand prize, a trip to Las Vegas.

Tucci's and Clark's restaurants will be offering gifts certificates.

For more information about Laps That Count and other fundraising activities by Windemere/Cronin and Caplan Realty Group, Inc., call Traci Schumacher at 503-636-5000.

Windemere is located at 220 A Avenue in Lake Oswego.