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'Red Day' helps family in need get their house in order | SLIDESHOW

MARYSVILLE — The Marysville offices of Keller Williams Realty commemorated the chain's annual "Red Day" of locally focused community service on Thursday, May 9, by fixing up the home of a Marysville family that's fallen on hard times with the economy.

Soren Olsen's father passed away from a heart attack three years ago to the day from this year's Red Day, on May 9, 2010, while his widowed mother was forced to celebrate Mother's Day this year at the hospital due to a kidney infection. Olsen himself has struggled to find work since the recession devastated the window industry, and with it his own job as a window salesman, at which he was earning $109,000 a year before he was laid off.

"It's been a rougher month than I anticipated," Olsen said. "I couldn't even mow the lawn, because the lawnmower is broken down. It all got to be such an overgrown mess that we preferred to stay inside rather than go outside."

Realtor Melinda Wade, who co-chairs the Marysville Keller Williams Realty's cultural committee with fellow realtor Lance Otto, explained that the scope of their spring cleanup of the Olsen household expanded well beyond the lawn.

"We had more than 60 volunteers come through that day," Wade said. "The Arlington Glass Doctor replaced a broken window, E&E Lumber of Marysville helped fix up the carport and his mother's wheelchair ramp, and several of our title representatives took part as well. This was just a family that was facing some challenges, got behind on things and needed a boost to catch back up."

Within the project's first hour alone, Wade estimated that volunteers had filled two dumpsters and two utility trailers, as well as collected four loads of green debris from weeding, mowing and pruning.

"We repaired the gutters where they'd fallen off, did some light painting and fixed up the trellis as well," Wade said. "The whole neighborhood was so excited. All our Keller Williams offices stop and close on this day, because it's about giving back to where you live."

Wade expressed her gratitude to Bob Brown, a next-door neighbor who extended the use of his parking lot and even his bathroom to volunteers, while Otto asserted that improving the Olsens' home helped to improve the neighborhood and the community as a whole.

"It enhances the quality of life for everyone," Otto said.

"It's a wonderful thing that they've done here," said Olsen, who in spite of his hardships feels grateful to be able to live in Marysville and send his children to its schools.

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