Two Miracles Come to Collierville Thanks to Crye-Leike and Community
by Paul Smothers
One wants to be a dentist and the other wants to be a doctor and now twin sisters Kimberly and Crystal Gray can shoot for those goals.
Thanks to the Realtors at Collierville’s Crye-Leike offices, Kimberly and Crystal, both age 8, can spend their summer break right in their new hometown – Collierville.
Dave Robertson of Crye-Leike, one year ago was going to show a house in South Memphis when he came across the twin girls, just getting out of school.
“I had a client that wanted to see some property in the 38109 zip code, which is an older area of Memphis,” he said. “I got down there about an hour before my appointment and as I pulled in the driveway, I felt reluctant to be in that area.”
The street was Margaret Street, and Robertson was selling a house, valued at $24,000. That is where he met Kimberly, Crystal and their grandmother, Bernice Gray.
“We started talking about how hot it was,” he said. “All of a sudden I heard a rustling behind me. These two little red-headed girls had gotten off the school bus and [ran] inside their grandmother’s house.”
With what Robertson called “not-the-best” living conditions, he said, “This reinforced my desire for helping the children in the area. I thought, what could I do?”
Robertson and his wife, Carol, adopted their oldest daughter, Robin, in 1995 and daughter, Nicki, in 1999, both from China. He told Kimberly and Crystal about his daughters and made plans to ?get everybody together.”
Robertson said real estate companies in general tend to do a lot to help people, and the living conditions of Kimberly and Crystal, he said, really were “hard on my heart.”
With the aide of four or five other Crye-Leike Realtors, Robertson searched for more affordable homes on the Internet. Many at the Crye-Leike office, 435 New Byhalia rd., donated money after hearing how the two little girls were living.
“I solicited no one,” Robertson said. “Basically, I was jus telling them about these two cute kids that I saw and that they needed help. I had $110 before I left.”
Soon after, he collected more that $200.
Ann Scott, long-time Crye-Leike agent, said the two-room home not only housed Mr. Gray and the twins, but was also home to Ms. Gray’s daughter, two other granddaughters, two great grandchildren and her granddaughter’s boyfriend.
Robertson, along with Ms. Scott, took the money they had collected and bought the little girls clothing and food
“We went down there with a bag of food, clothes, canned goods,” Robertson said. “Ann (Scott) was shocked. This time we went into the house and their were summer bugs crawling everywhere, including on countertops, the kitchen sink. We told the grandmother she had to do something about those bugs. Because of conditions beyond her control, she told us she was doing the best she could with what she had.”
“This was a destitute place,” Ms. Scott said. “In fact, the landlord was going to give the property to them. Bernice had always lived there. When we always lived there. When we went in, there was mold and mildew everywhere. The kids had sores on their faces.”
Ms. Scott turned to Joe Paul, owner of Center Street Apartments who helped move Mrs. Gray, Kimberly and Crystal to an apartment in Collierville to meet their needs. Paul’s wife, Kay, is a long-time Crye-Leike agent and also wanted to help. The Pauls have worked in many Crye-Leike civic projects, Robertson said.
Robertson said that because the Collierville community reached out to help get these children out of their environment, they moved to the Center Street Apartments. Paul made special arrangements and reduced the rent.
“I have twin boys,” Ms. Scott said. “I just fell in love with the two girls. They were the sweetest little things. They just needed out of those conditions. Joe Paul, who would have rented that apartment for $350 gave it to Bernice for only $250.”
Meribeth LaBarreare and her husband, chuck, with First trust Bank, renovated the apartment, including washer, dryer, cabinets, countertops and floors to make the apartment completely up to date prior to Ms. Gray and the two girls arriving.
“Now, we’re all going down there and taking them things on a regular basis,” Robertson said. Movies and restaurant trips are just some f the adventures Kimberly and Crystal have come to know.
Everybody in our Crye-Leike office has given monetarily,” Robertson said. “Ann spearheaded the whole thing. Now, these two children go to Tara Oaks Elementary, their grandmother is working on buying a car, and both Kimberly and Crystal are being tutored by Charla Bartossi, a Crye-Leike agent.”
From Crye-Leike’s Christmas party with Santa Claus to being in a movie theater for the first time, the sisters originally from Cora Lake School in South Memphis have been given many opportunities.
Robertson said many Collierville residents have donated furniture and clothes in what he calls a “miracle” for Kimberly and Crystal.