Growing up in Tucson as a young boy with my four brothers, I fondly remember our visits to what we all called the “used bread store.” Feeding five boys as a widow must have really been challenging for my mother, Janet, but we never had a clue. Food was something we were always delighted to get. Twenty loaves of two day old bread would last 3 days in our house at best, provided the five gallon pail of peanut butter held up with the home canned plum, peach, and apricot jam we canned all summer long. We could also barter peanut butter and jelly sandwiches all around the neighborhood.
Next door, we could get fresh frijoles and tortillas right off the grill from Auntie, if we could knock her 7 grand kids out of the way first, or bribe them with a PB&J to clear the way. We could sometimes get fresh Knishes from the Cohens across the alley, or bribe David Smith to break into his secret Mormon stash and trade for Vienna sausages.
While thinking of my days as a boy in Tucson, it reminded me of a heartbreaking experience I had in Anaheim this week at the California Realtors Convention. While working in my room there was a knock on the door, and the maid came in to clean the room. She was very cautious and polite, and spoke to me in broken English. Addressing her in Spanish brought a huge smile to her face. She was real tired and had already cleaned almost 20 rooms, but she told me how happy she was to have the work. The hotel had been quiet, but the convention had filled up the hotel for the week and she had 6 days of work. She said she had only been working 2 or 3 days a week…
Then the sad story came out. She has three young children and her husband lost his job two years ago, and had not been able to find work. They had both been well employed before, then in a booming economy, and had purchased a house. She told me how proud they had been to be able to live the United States, raise a family, and own their own home. The problem was, they had not been able to make a payment for a year, and the house was in foreclosure. They were going to lose their dream.
Maria and I talked a little more, and she told how proud she was of her family and how hard the children worked in school. She beamed as she talked about how her husband took any small job he was offered.
The only hope I could offer her was to tell her about the hope my mother offered to me and my brothers when we lost our father as young boys. Somehow, she managed to feed us, cloth us, and go to college to finish her teaching credential at the University of Arizona. My mother moved us to California, got a teaching job, bought a house in Laguna Beach, and made sure we stayed in school, and out of jail. My life changed forever getting out of Tucson and into the California surf at 12 years old.
As we move on in our real estate careers, please remember to show compassion for those less fortunate. We can’t help all of them, but we can be kind and compassionate. Short sales and foreclosures involve all of us today in this market, and we owe it to those whom we sold these homes to treat them with hope for tomorrow. The loss of a home is not the loss of family. Money and fortune can be earned again—family cannot.
Remember the Used Bread Store, help them feed and educate their children, and find them a new place to sleep. They will be home owners again some day, and they will remember your kindness forever. A few loaves of bread can go a long way.