by KIM HILSENBECK
Real estate broker and business owner Chris Dunkin found herself seeking a purpose to her life, work and everything. She sought help from a life coach.
From that experience, she found her passion is to give back to her community.
Dunkin wanted to take that passion and apply it to her business, Star Tex Real Estate in Buda. She thought it would be great if she could give 10 percent of sales commissions to charity. The only potential glitch was that she wanted the four real estate agents who work for her to do the same thing with their sales commissions.
She need not have worried.
“Every one of them was more than on board with the idea,” Dunkin said.
Many of her agents were already community-minded, donating time and money to charities such as Meals on Wheels, volunteering for PTAs and getting involved in their churches.
“They told me this new business model makes working here even more meaningful,” she said.
Between July and December 2012, Star Tex donated $6,100 to local charities using its new business model. So far this quarter, the firm has racked up about $3,800 and still has at least three home closings before March.
In addition to the feel-good aspect, Dunkin said the agents are personally involved in helping to select which organizations receive money.
Dunkin said throughout the year, Star Tex will donate two percent of all sales commissions to the American Cancer Society; the firm also has a Relay for Life team that will participate in the April event.
Dunkin’s connection to Relay for Life stems from losing her best friend, Diane Ivey, to cancer several years ago. So she started doing the relay with Ivey’s daughter, Jody Delgado. This year will be the first time her company has its own team.
Star Tex also donates two percent to the Hays Youth Athletic Association. Then each quarter, the employees decide together which charity will receive the next two percent.
Dunkin said Hope and Love 4 Kids received the third quarter donation while Brown Santa through the Hays County Sheriff’s Office was the beneficiary for the fourth quarter of 2012.
This quarter, employees decided that the Hays YMCA will receive the donation.
Star Tex was even nominated for Small Business of the Year by Hope and Love 4 Kids as a result of implementing this business model.
“We may be small, but we’re trying to make a big impact,” said agent Melissa Frensley, who joined the team in the fall.
Frensley said Dunkin explained the business model before she came on board.
“She said her business had been very blessed and she wanted to share those blessings,” Frensely said. “She asked us how we feel about donating a percentage of our sales commissions to local charities.”
Frensley said that as a stay-at-home mom for the past eight years, she frequently donated her time to charity and is active in her daughters’ school and at her church.
“This was a great opportunity to donate financially, as well,” she said.
Dunkin has been in the real estate business in northern Hays County since 1984.
“It’s picking up,” Dunkin said of the recent economic and real estate downturn.
She finds clients are generally receptive when they hear about how her firm gives back 10 percent of sales commissions.
“I didn’t put it in place as a marketing gimmick,” Dunkin said. “I just wanted to give my life more meaning.”