Sacred Ground

By Stephen Phillips 

I made a serious mistake one day when I first started at the predecessor to Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices. I was coming in from several years of strategic consulting and I had recently written a series of articles about the challenges facing real estate companies. In one article, I discussed marketing in the modern age and the importance of a corporate cause that signals to consumers the values by which a company lives and does business. Not just hot air, but deep commitment to a great cause.


Stephen Phillips with Mike Huff, broker/owner of Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Anderson Properties and four of the 2015 Spokeskids.

We were having a meeting about the creation of Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices, and I brought up the issue of designating a relevant cause for the new brand. That’s when I first heard about the company’s long history with the Sunshine Kids, dedicated to kids with cancer. Having been in the industry for over a decade, I was surprised that I hadn’t heard about the Sunshine Kids, and I had no idea how involved the company was. So I said — and this is where I made my big mistake — “It doesn’t have to be the Sunshine Kids.” Well, if looks could kill, I wouldn’t be writing this now. Every person in that room glared at me as if I had profoundly offended them. I had stumbled onto sacred ground.

As many of you know, I’ve had my own journey with cancer over the past 18 months. From that experience, I can tell you when you donate money to the Sunshine Kids you’re giving children and adolescents with cancer a way to briefly escape the all-consuming day-to-day battle of fighting the disease. They can spend time with other young people who are in situations like their own, and they will have someone to talk to who understands their feelings like no one else can. For a day, or a few days, at the sea shore, in the mountains, or at an amusement park, whatever the place and the activity, you’re providing them an opportunity to feel like regular kids again, at a time when that’s the greatest gift you could possibly give. It’s the last chance some of them might ever have.

That’s why I’m so pleased to tell you Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices had a great year supporting the Sunshine Kids in 2014. Our affiliates and agents raised over $1.6 million last year. One company, Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Ambassador Real Estate in Omaha, raised more than $340,000. In total, the brokerage networks owned and operated by HSF Affiliates have raised more than $24.3 million for the Sunshine Kids since 1991.

That day two years ago my perspective changed forever, and I asked our team to do two things: tell the world about the Sunshine Kids, and get our associates more directly involved. Since then, we’ve made great progress. Our marketing and communications teams, along with our outside advertising and public relations firms, have spent hundreds of hours helping the Sunshine Kids tell their incredible story. And last summer, for the first time, our employees held their own event, a 5K FunRun, raising over $19,000 in the process.

I am continually amazed by the generosity and compassion of the people in the Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices network. I feel honored and privileged every day to be a part of this organization. Together, we are deeply committed and we will never stop supporting this great cause. For all of us, at the company and in the network, it does have to be the Sunshine Kids.

Stephen Phillips is COO for HSF Affiliates LLC, responsible for the daily operations of the company. He also serves as president of Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices. Find him on Twitter @sphillipstweets.

One response to Sacred Ground

  1. Steve Jones

    Mr. Phillips, I wish you would accompany The Sunshine Kids on one trip and see how many smiles you help bring to the lives of Sunshine Kids. The best thing about being a Sunshine Kid is meeting other kids who have the same illnesses and problems that you have. I was diagnosed with a brain tumor. I had a stroke as a result of the treatment I had. I could not have made it without the attitude I learned from the other Sunshine Kids. Thank you for your kindness and adding sunshine to our lives!
    Steve Jones


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