A Roof Overhead // Following My Children’s Lead #WhoKnew

Wednesday, October 28, 2015
Debbi DiMaggio

Things come to us at different times in our life.  I expect they do so when we are ready to accept.

First of all, why do I always find inspiration when I am in a deep sleep and suddenly find myself awake at 3 or 4 in the morning having to get up and write?

Our children, now young adults have been raised and personally motivated to give back in their own way. 

Pictured above is Bianca, our daughter, wearing a white tee and the biggest smile on her face surrounded by Fijian school children also donning huge grins. ( And to think I thought Fiji was a 5 Star Resort Destination not a developing country! ) Bianca has traveled the world with community service organizations like President Eisenhower’s People to People Student Ambassador Program ( where it all began at the young age of 9! ) – from there she toured with Adventures Cross Country and Rustic Pathways.

Chase Betta ( our son ) and Tyler Priybl, Chase’s best friend pictured here with a young Mexican boy outside of Tijuana where the Piedmont High School students build homes for families led by the Piedmont Community Church in Northern California.

Believe me, I giveback in my own way, but staying in the places our kids have is just not something in my DNA.  Both Bianca and Chase spent Spring Break during high school building homes for families in Mexico outside Tijuana with our local Piedmont Community Church. Bianca has traveled the world extensively spending nights in places so foreign and so uncomfortable to me I am certain I could never tolerate. To this day I cannot fathom how she spent nights under a mosquito net in a hammock in multiple third world countries where there were no roofs or floors? Did she feel safe? How could she in a foreign jungle deep in the Amazon or a village in Tanzania? It boggles my mind. Now if you have read anything I have ever posted or taken a glimpse at my Debbi DiMaggio website or Facebook page, giving back is the corner stone of my very existence. It is not something I chose, it is quite frankly something that chose me. I do not mean to compare myself to a deity or the Dali Lama by any means, or my role model Princess Diana, but I do believe we were all put on this planet and brought into this world for a reason and I do believe mine was to do what I can to help and inspire others towards worthwhile endeavors and to encourage them to  fulfill their dreams.

When I first asked to join Giveback Homes, it was YES. Simply yes without hesitation. I realize I don’t say no oftentimes to a charity calling, whether by giving financially or giving of my time, joining boards and committees and referring friends, clients and colleagues, service providers, photographers and many others to support the cause, whatever cause that may be. Connecting others for the good of another is something I cannot help but do. A day does not go by where I am not helping another, be it a charity, assisting someone with their dreams or career aspirations, mentoring a friend or acquaintance, training one of our agents, promoting another person’s service, throwing a birthday party for a total stranger, creating a dream day for a young woman with a terminal illness whom I did not know, pricing a home for a Realtor who works at a different company, guiding women seeking to gain knowledge in business, listening to a friend having significant other issues, or whatever it is I am called upon to do. And for you too, I am there, I am here — If I able, and I can, I will.

Pictured below are photos from Erica’s Table of 20 at Neiman Marcus in San Francisco where she asked me to speak to her friends and guests about my career, family, philanthropy and managing it all.

I am up writing this early Wednesday morning, once again, abruptly awaken out of a deep sleep – and I usually don’t sleep very deep, so apparently I had to write this Blog, so here I am.  At this very moment I was obviously moved to do what I can to educate others about Giveback Homes. It’s my mission today whether I have time, want to, or not.  I am always amazed what my mind contemplates when I am sleeping.

As our real estate tag line states: Educate Communicate Inspire.

Well I was certainly inspired by what I learned and felt in my heart, when I first met Mary Bracewell, Caroline Pinal and Blake Andrews. I met Mary and Caroline at Inman Connect in San Francisco where I was a panelist.

I agreed to meet, a bit reluctant since there were so many people selling ideas and concepts all convincing us we needed what they were selling. A truly overwhelming experience. ( It’s called Tech Alley. ) However, once I heard their pitch I readily accepted. And accepted with passion. Something in my heart beat yes even before the words had the chance to come out of my mouth. I live by my heart, I lead by my heart and by my intuition. Only in the last 10 years did I have the nerve to admit that I have always followed my intuition. I thought it was strange and didn’t know what it meant. I was even embarrassed and thought I was weird. Agents and buyers would oftentimes ask how I come up with a winning figure to offer on a home? And, what percent do I go over ( the asking price )? I would always lie, never saying it was a gut reaction or my intuition and that I never calculate percentages. Well, that doesn’t work anyway. ( And that’s a blog I wrote that you can find on the Examiner. ) But that is where I find answers and where things begin for me, in my heart and in my gut, and subconscious mind. I hope that doesn’t sound weird, mystical or woo woo! But it is true. I feel first, than act.

To note: Of all the tech and various tools being pushed on us at the Inman Agent Connect Real Estate Conference, and yes, many definitely worthwhile, Giveback Homes was the only one that spoke to me. Interesting to mention, GBH was the only one not related to the marketing of a home or building our own individual real estate business. It was about someone else. It was and is about providing funding for those without a roof over their head, as well as being a part of an organization of people who all share the same values. As I have learned by further research, I understand GBH is also a vehicle in which to assist a Realtors business via networking and branding while aligning oneself with charitable, and most definitely a worthwhile cause. What seems to be the common vehicle to attract the Millennial buyer is through charitable causes such as GBH. Something only recently I came to understand. Giving back has just always been a big part of our lives.

But that’s not why I was excited and passionate about joining. I am a believer in doing for others and in this case, putting a roof over the heads of those who don’t have one was something I simply could not ignore. I do get anxiety over the fact that no matter how much I do for the multiple charities to which I am personally involved, my limited involvement doesn’t seem to dent the mass of issues at hand. May that be terminal illness, children at risk, poverty, lack of food and shelter, schooling, mental illness and the list goes on.  And then, as it goes, I meet a  kind person who thanks me and I march on.

So back to Giveback Homes, the reason for my rising today.

Giveback Homes is an incredible organization I won’t even attempt to detail here. I encourage you to learn more from its inspiring Founder, Blake Andrews who can define his mission best. I had the opportunity to meet Blake at, yes, another fundraiser, this time at a SoulCycle  Charity Buzz  The Agency RE  RHOBH charity event held at SoulCycle Beverly Hills. I happened to notice an Instagram post while I was meeting with my publicist and friend, Liz Kelly at Moon Shadows in Malibu having just arrived from Northern California. Immediately I wanted to support the cause. ( Having never attended a SoulCycle class, nor having brought anything to wear, but it all worked out, I went and I rode!  And now I am totally obsessed even addicted to SoulCycle. That’s a story unto itself. )

It was there at SCBH where I met Blake Andrews.

He did like those before him. A smile and a kind word always impresses me. It’s the small gestures in life that make me smile.

He walked over to me in a room full of people to thank me for joining Giveback Homes. I had no idea who this man was and why he was thanking me. Later, much later when I was perusing the Giveback Homes website I learned that ‘the man’ was the Founder, moreover a man with an inspiring background and what I witnessed first hand, a man with an even kinder disposition. He had worked at Tom’s putting shoes on the feet of those who had none. I than discovered an article about him on the Internet. I was pretty amazed he had come over to me to simply say thank you. I was just a stranger, out of place, away from home.  And so it goes, I’m a sucker for a good cause, and a genuine thank you. Also, a compassionate believer and a passionate optimist.

Of course, as my mind never rests, I went back home and couldn’t stop thinking about what more I could do for Giveback Homes and how HIGHLAND PARTNERS, my friends, clients and colleagues might get involved, not only by donating financially but be a part of building a home(s) for a family(ies) in need in our own backyard.  It costs just $5000 to build one home for a family. So as my mind spun, no pun intended, I of course, decided and has become my mission to host a charity ride at SoulCycle in Marin where my husband and I ride every Saturday and once or twice during the week.  And so it goes, the wheels were set in motion: Goal #1 | Fill the room to Ride for the Cause at SoulCycle Marin.  Goal #2 | Already in motion. Last month a press release was sent out but has not yet taken flight — directed to my fellow Realtors from around the globe: “For any referral we receive within the Giveback Homes family,  we will pay a 25% referral as we always do to the referring agent, plus donate an additional $1500.00 to Giveback Homes. I am hoping to spread the word about Giveback Homes in Northern California as I believe anyone who learns about it will be compelled to help just as we were.

Passionately Yours,


PS. Any of my Realtor colleagues, or anyone reading this Blog, appropriately titled Debbi DiMaggio A Grateful Life, has a roof over their head I am certain. May that be the roof of an apartment, a condo or a single family home, Estate or Mansion like the homes we were graciously invited to attend in Beverly Hills.

Pictured here is the incredible Closing Party venue listed For Sale by Mauricio Umansky from The Agency located at 1307 Sierra Alta just above Sunset Blvd.

Below: Owlwood Mansion was the spectacular venue for the Opening Party graciously hosted by Douglas Elliman Real Estate. Pictured below are my new young friends, colleagues and Giveback Homes members from Santa Barbara, the South Bay and Silicon Valley from left to right: Matthew Zampella, Hadar Guibara, Dusty Baker, Rob Aigner and myself Debbi DiMaggio.

How can one turn their back on those who don’t have a home? I’m taking my children’s lead and taking on this new cause. Now don’t get me wrong, I am certain I will not be building a home in Haiti or in any third world or developing country. I wasn’t given the gene that would allow me to stay in accommodations and venues as my children have experienced, even loved. We all have our limits 🙂

And if using your celebrity helps another, by all means go for it!

Josh Altman, from Million Dollar Listing LA and Yours Truly 🙂

Above: Mauricio greets his guests at his stunning listing above the Sunset Strip

Below: Meet Mary and Caroline, Giveback Homes powerhouses, ambassadors and friends 🙂 And Mauricio and Billy Rose Co Founders of The Agency | Real Estate and James Harris of Million Dollar Listing LA

Above: Yours Truly and Roh Habibi, Million Dollar Listing San Francisco – always fun to see!

To learn more about a majority of the many charities we currently support please take a peak. And if you would like to get involved in Giveback Homes or one of the other charities we are so passionate about please reach out. Learn More | Get Involved

Below: Debbi DiMaggio and Adam Betta

PSS. I had to stop writing my blog this morning in order to make my SoulCycle class in Marin! You should give it a spin! Thank you Mary and Caroline for introducing me SC! I’m hooked!

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