Opportunity knocks

Opportunity knocks
Fourteen deserving local youngsters will now have a better chance at higher education after receiving scholarships provided by El Centro de Accion Social, Inc., of Pasadena and Community Organization for Progress and Advancement.
Qualifying seniors from Blair International Baccalaureate School, Marshall Fundamental, Pasadena and Muir high schools, and the Center for Independent Studies on the PHS campus accepted their scholarships during a ceremony held May 27 at Lake Avenue Church. 
The scholarships of $200 for 12 of the kids and $500 for two of them will help with expenses for students attending such prestigious schools as MIT, USC, UC Santa Cruz, UCLA, and other colleges and universities. The money was provided through the El Centro Gloria Delaney Scholarship Fund. Delaney died in January 2009. Her husband, John Delaney, gave the keynote address at last week’s event.
“Each student’s story is extraordinary,” said El Centro Executive Director Randy Ertll. “They have persevered in order to graduate from high school and will now have the opportunity to attend a university.”
Of 30 applicants, Ariana Rojas, Priscilla Perez, Aysha Davis, Sara Leu, Leslie Mena, Ashley Kennard, Janet Yepez, Anni Eloyan, Tania Cardona, Shirley Alonso, Vivian Cardona, Audrey Moreno, Janet Perez, and Julie Guerrero were selected to receive scholarships. 
El Centro was founded in 1968 to improve the lack of social services and serve the needs of the city’s growing Spanish-speaking population. In the late 1960s, the city offered its support by donating a building in Central Park “to be used to offer translation services, referrals to various aid agencies, and any other type of help that the Latino community needed in the late 1960s,” said Ertll. 

Opportunity knocks

Opportunity knocks

“These are the best and worst of times for real estate,” says my favorite real estate agent, Irina-the-Tsarina Netchaev. “The worst is uncertainty. Buyers wonder if it’s the right time to buy.

Sellers don’t know if they should sell, rent or hold. And agents have to keep up with constant changes in the industry, work a lot harder to make the same number of sales and serve their clients in the same way that they did in the past.”

But even during economic tumult, Irina is no pessimist. Her family struggled to reach America, a country that her grandmother had dreamed of for years; when they arrived in the United States, Irina and her parents had left fear and despair behind them in Kiev.

“The best thing about the era we’re in right now is the opportunity!” Irina says. “Opportunity for buyers to get into a home at a more affordable price. Opportunity for sellers who want to move or trade up, to exchange their present home for the home of their dreams. It’s also an opportunity for savvy and creative agents who want to build their business, and position themselves for developments in the market.”

I can’t claim unequivocally that Irina is the best real estate agent in the San Gabriel region, because there are so many realtors in the area. Many of them are terrific, and most of them I’ve never even met. But I do know that Irina is among the best. I know that she delights in the artistry of her craft. I know that she’s learned a great deal from her corporate experience, and also from her experience as mother to teenage children. I know that she’s an avid student of life, real estate and human nature – and I know that she’s not perfect.

“It’s really important to have a consultation before making any decisions or commitments,” says Irina, alluding to the chemistry and compatibility involved in the agent-client relationship. “I can’t help everyone.”

The best Pasadena real estate agent will demonstrate several, fundamental characteristics. Some of these are self evident. Like, if you’re selling a home, you don’t want to hire an agent who’s going to nosh on your leftovers, drink out of the milk carton and indulge in a shower in the master bath during a lull in open house activity.

Second, don’t mistake “top producer” for “best agent.” The truly gifted agent may spend more time, therefore earning less money, to properly serve a client, than the agent who maintains a madcap momentum of million-dollar home sales and massive commissions. Often snubbing other agents in the process, which is another thing you should consider if you want the best agent in the business; find someone who cultivates friendly, supportive relationships within the real estate community.

Now more than ever, we all need each other in the course of buying, selling and living in our homes.
Most experts caution against working with a part-time agent. The full-time agent tends to be more focused, informed and dedicated than the guy who’s still hanging onto his day-job.

Also, among other things, the best agent knows how to take a decent photo, write a decent description and return calls in a decent amount of time. It also helps if your realtor knows how much it costs to replace a 50-year-old furnace or rewire a converted garage.

The best real estate agent will provide you with references and comprehensive market analysis. He will negotiate effectively on your behalf. He will, according to real estate coach, broker and author Jennifer Allan, put your needs above his/her “need for a paycheck.”

Obviously your agent should know the region intimately. And who wouldn’t want to know Pasadena intimately?

“Where else can you find a sunny, 76-degree climate?” asks Irina. “Where can you be an hour away from skiing, 40 minutes from the ocean, surrounded by chic boutiques, theater, museums, culinary schools, academia, upscale restaurants and amazing hole-in-the-wall dives — all within a few mile radius of tree-lined streets and quiet neighborhoods? It’s an amazing place to live and work!”

The thing is, the beauty of Pasadena persists through good times and bad, and the pleasures of living and working here make our community shine among the best-of-the-best idyllic regions in the world. The best real estate agents share our passion for the landscape, climate and community and their passion creates productivity.

“The example of my grandma following her dream,” Irina says, “the courage that it took for my parents to leave their homeland with almost nothing and make a life in this country has instilled in me the idea that anything can be accomplished if you just dedicate yourself and are clear about your goals and passions.”

Contact Joanna Dehn Beresford at truewrite@yahoo.com.

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