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Realtors spend 'Red Day' of community service

BRADENTON — Denise Deisler was caught in a whirlwind of activity.

People were painting, landscaping and building all around her Thursday morning on the north side of the Humane Society of Manatee County.

“I can’t tell you how happy we are,” said the animal shelter’s executive director.

As part of Keller Williams Realty’s international “Red Day” of community service, 30-plus associates from the Palmetto’s Keller Williams On the Water office were sprucing up the animal shelter on 14th Street West.

There were more volunteering elsewhere, too.

Keller Williams of Manatee associates were busy rehabbing old apartments on Ninth Avenue West for use by the Children’s Academy of Southwest Florida.

Keller Williams Lakewood Ranch focused on Manatee Glens.

At the Humane Society, volunteers concentrated on the office wing and parking lot behind the main building, using donated materials from local businesses.

“They’re making our adoption areas safer and friendlier, closing it in and making it into a courtyard,” Deisler said. “When they told me what they wanted to do, I figured if I asked for the moon, I thought I’d get a couple of stars — and they ended up giving me the moon.”

And a lot of fresh paint.

“I’ve had experience,” Joey Hodgson said, working a roller on a wall.

Javier Molina wielded a rake, clearing an area for a puppy pen.

“My wife sees to it I use a rake quite a bit,” he said.

Matt Lemmons put the finishing touches on a silhouette of a dog and a ball.

“Whatever we can do to make the place look good,” the Ringling School alum said.

Similar activity was unfolding at six apartments near the Children’s Academy of Southwest Florida.

Maryann Lawler, a Realtor and school boardmember, said they’d been foreclosed on and broken into by vagrants before being purchased by the school as future classrooms for art, music, technology and other uses.

“We’ve been painting, landscaping, ripping out carpeting ... to get the buildings ready,” she said. “The school is working on finding sponsors to remodel them.”

Jeri Pasquarella, the school’s executive director, smiled as she grilled hot dogs for the volunteers.

“It’s fantastic,” she said. “They’re making a phenomenal difference, getting this building set up and cleaning up the grounds to begin to give kids the services they deserve in downtown Bradenton.”

Vin Mannix, local columnist, can be reached at 745-7055, or write him at Bradenton Herald, P.O. Box 921, Bradenton, FL. 34206 or e-mail him at Please include a phone number for verification.