(Photo Courtesy of Bethlehem Inn)
Howard Friedman, CCIM has been with Compass Commercial Real Estate Services since 1998, just two years after the inception of the brokerage firm. He has also been greatly involved in the community of Central Oregon, with his roots in the restaurant industry previous to becoming a real estate broker. For the past twelve years, Howard and his wife Nancy have volunteered at Bethlehem Inn, which provides emergency transitional housing and services for people struggling with poverty and homelessness in our community.
After retiring from the restaurant business, Friedman took the time to serve meals to the homeless community in Bend. Once a month Howard, Nancy and friends prepare and serve dinner for 70–100 people at Bethlehem Inn. Taking the time to volunteer on a monthly basis in this way has a great return on the small investment of time for the Friedmans. “The gratitude we receive from the people we serve each month stands out as the most rewarding reason to continue serving,” Howard says.
In addition to his involvement with the Inn’s Emergency Meal Program, Howard recently began serving as Vice President for the Bethlehem Inn Board of Directors. In his new role, the need for a new facility became even more apparent to Howard. While the shelter supports over 1,100 people experiencing homelessness each year, this is far short of current and projected needs.
The demand along with aging buildings has ultimately resulted in the launch of an extensive reconstruction of the facility, which started this summer. The new buildings will be built within its current footprint with a design that will “allow nearly 100 single adults and 10 families to transition into a life of self-sufficiency, through a safe, comfortable and loving environment,” according to Howard.
“The Central Oregon community has been very good to us both personally and professionally. When I was in the food service business as a chef and restaurant owner, I always wanted to give back, but there was never enough time. Once I retired from the restaurant world; I was still passionate about food and cooking, and was finally able to take the time to serve meals to the homeless community. It gives us great joy to be able to do so,” Howard said.
The reconstruction of the Inn has been made possible by the generous support of many individuals, foundations and businesses. Early last year, Bethlehem Inn started a capital campaign to raise enough to begin building. So far over $5 million has been raised for Phase I. This fall, they are continuing the campaign entitled Transforming Lives Together to reach the $5.3 million necessary to complete the new Family Residential, Commercial Kitchen and Service Hub. As part of the campaign, a challenge has been issued to members of Central Oregon Realtor Association (COAR) and Central Oregon Builders Association (COBA) to see which organization can raise the most funds for the project.
When reflecting on what his service means, Howard relayed an old story about a child who came upon a multitude of starfish washed up on the beach. As he leaned down to throw them back in the water one by one, an old man walking by said, “What are you doing? There must be thousands of starfish on the beach, you can’t possibly make much of a difference.” The boy picked up another one, tossed it in the water and said, “It made a difference to that one!”
This story is an important illustration of how Howard’s service each month affects positive change in the community. He says, “There is so much need in this world, far more than any one person can do. But one by one, as a community, we CAN make a difference. I wish more people would take the time to volunteer with whatever their passion may be. It will certainly make a difference.”
At Compass Commercial, we are proud to have team members active in our community, serving in more than 15 nonprofits along with other civic and business organizations that help keep the region thriving. In addition, as a company, Compass Commercial has pledged to give $2,500 each year for three years to help support Bethlehem Inn’s new building campaign. Either volunteering time or donating money or in-kind goods can help benefit the community of Central Oregon. Join Howard and our team in serving the community involvement and contact Bethlehem Inn or any one of the local nonprofit organizations to let them know that you are willing to help make a difference.