Happy New Year! Welcome to 2020.
John and I believe that 2020 is going to be full of excitement, change, continued business growth and success for all. As we begin the New Year, it is like we are writing the next chapter in our story. We want to start the New Year with a commitment to our resolutions! Our first resolution is to perform more acts of kindness as this world is so in need of people caring for others. Next, we want to read broadly and always continue learning. Third, we want to spend our time wisely, with family and friends. Fourth, we want to show our gratitude to our clients, our team, and our community as we realize how fortunate we are to have the business and personal relationships we enjoy each working day. Fifth, as my three-year-old grandson recently exclaimed, “I want to go outside and enjoy nature’s beauty!” Finally, we want to spend more time doing the things we love: volunteering, hiking, skiing, golfing, tennis, and traveling.
We are humbled and honored to be asked to share our story with the Colorado Springs Real Producers. We have been very blessed by this business and the people with whom we have worked. Throughout the years, so many people have mentored us and encouraged us in the business of real estate and in broadening our skills. It has been the best decision of our lives, and now we have the opportunity to mentor others who join our team. Not everything has been easy, but we have a passion for helping people and real estate affords us an incredible opportunity to do just that.
Colorado has always been my home and that’s really where my story and the foundation of my business start. Being able to share my deep roots in the area is one of the reasons I so enjoy real estate. My parents, Mary and Bob Rissacher, met in a small town in upstate New York, came to Colorado on their honeymoon, and never looked back. My father, an Army veteran, used the GI bill to earn his B.A. from the University of Denver. My mother had also earned a B.A. at a time when that was quite unusual for women. She was always very independent, caring, and well read – traits I’ve tried to emulate and pass on to my daughters and which have served me well in business. My father started working part-time as a salesman for George Berbet and Sons Medical and Surgical Supply while he was still a student. He excelled at sales, being a gregarious, happy, fun-loving man, and he received a full-time sales position at the company after he graduated from college.
With Mom and Dad we got to explore much of Colorado, leaving me with a rich knowledge of the area that I love to share with my clients. Dad traveled all over the states of Colorado and Wyoming for his work, often bringing us children along during the summers, as he called on doctors and small hospitals showing them the latest in medical equipment. I got to know the area well and also received my first education in sales techniques. Dad was all about being knowledgeable, honest, and showing the clients all their options. Just like what we do in real estate. He ended up buying the company with two other partners and they operated Denver Surgical Supply until he retired.
The tradition of exploring and celebrating Colorado continues with my sisters. I have a twin sister, Kathy, who also lives in Colorado Springs and is the merchandiser and buyer for the fabulous Terra Verde store in downtown Colorado Springs. Kathy inherited the creative and athletic genes. We are often asked to go on hikes (otherwise known as Forced Family Marches) exploring Colorado’s stunning beauty with Kathy leading the way and the rest of us struggling to keep up with her! I also have a sister, Mary Jo, who continues to avidly cheer on the Broncos, though she now resides in Wilmington, N.C. She had a career as a fabulous interior designer, and her eye for beauty sparked some of my interest in real estate.
Besides my love of the area, my Colorado upbringing gave me another skill essential to my real estate practice: grit. For my family, growing up in Colorado meant horses and participating in a long Colorado tradition, the Westernaires. My parents worked very hard but also had a lot of fun and strove to give us girls every opportunity they could. My mother grew up on a farm and loved horses, so she got us started in The Westernaires Precision Riding Team in Lakewood, Colorado when we were young. My father, being from Brooklyn, had never had any experience with horses. He was terrified at first but gamely came around and eventually loved the horses as much as we did.
One of my most formative memories was when my horse and I were hit by another horse while in a full gallop in the opening grand entry of the National Western Stock Show in Denver during my senior year of high school. The collision was so hard it knocked both horses over. I picked myself up and checked my horse, who thankfully was not injured, dusted myself off, and finished the performance. The next day my picture was on the front of the Denver Post with the headline, “Jean Rissacher Showed the True Grit of the American Cowgirl at the National Western Stock Show!” I was mortified by the publicity, as in high school being a cowgirl was not exactly cool. But that grit serves me well in real estate: you never give up, you get up and do the best you can, and you do the right thing!
Finally, my parents taught me the value of community and that is a value that has formed much in my life. In my experience with the Westernaires, I un-wittingly found my calling for my first career. One day we were loading our horses in the trailer in the parking lot and I saw a boy being beaten with a belt by his father. I was helpless to come to his aid then, but I vowed to myself that I would fight to never again see or hear of another child abused. After graduating from Lakewood High School, I attended Colorado State University and earned my B.A. in Early Childhood Education and Social Work. I then worked for the Salvation Army and as a counselor for youth in a residential treatment center. I then went on to earn my M.S.W. from the University of Michigan. I loved living in Ann Arbor. I took sailing lessons and attended many football games at the Big House. I had a great job serving at the Real Seafood Company Restaurant, which paid my way through graduate school and gave me a fabulous education in customer service skills.
After graduation, Kathy and I backpacked through Europe for six weeks following the guidelines from the infamous book Europe on $10.00 a Day. We had an amazing experience and met fantastic people and distant relatives, to whom we will always be grateful.
After my European adventure, I found my dream job in Glenwood Springs, Colorado working for the Department of Social Services in the Child Abuse and Neglect Division. I loved living there and felt like I was in heaven, as it was so beautiful, and I was able to enjoy the great outdoors. Reality hit hard when my work had me explaining to a mother that her husband had just killed their son. I then had to go to the county jail and evaluate the husband for being suicidal. In another case, I was shot at by a man who had badly abused his wife and children as I was leaving the home with his children. Though I saw so much tragedy in those years, there were also triumphs when I was able to successfully help children through the court system so they could live in safe, loving environments. I now find that my background in social work often comes in handy, as our client’s moves are often coming during particularly stressful times in their lives, whether due to happy circumstances like a wedding or a new baby, or sad circumstances like a divorce, job loss, or a death.
During this time period John and I met, fell in love, and married. John is a fellow Colorado lover. He grew up in upstate New York but came to Colorado as fast as he could! We have so much in common, including our passion for skiing. John was the alpine ski racing coach for the high school kids at Sunlight Ski Area and the Controller at Boise Cascade Lumber Yard in Aspen and Basalt. I was a Buddy Warner race coach for the young children at Sunlight Ski Area. Friends set us up on a blind date and, as they say, the rest is history. John is an unbelievably beautiful and talented skier who trained in France and Switzerland and was on the University of Colorado racing team, where he also earned an accounting degree. We married in Aspen, Colorado in 1983 and lived in a one-bedroom home on the Crystal River looking out over Mt. Sopris and a ranch with horses. It was a dream come true for me.
To my surprise, after a year of marriage, John told me he was getting promoted and we would need to move from Carbondale to Denver! I had spent my whole childhood in Denver dreaming of living in the mountains! However, if he were to advance his career, we had to go. We were both young and not making very much money, so in the end we decided it was the best thing to do. Ironically, our landlords in Aspen wanted us to stay and offered to sell us the land and small cottage, but we just couldn’t afford it. Darn, that was a huge real estate mistake. If we had found a way to purchase that then I am sure we would have been set for life! As we all know, hindsight is 20/20 in real estate, but everything worked out in the long run.
We moved to Denver and I worked as a social worker for an elementary school. We had our first child, Sarah, which was an amazing gift. I then moved to a position as a medical social worker at St. Luke’s/Presbyterian Hospital. We bought our first home in Lafayette, Colorado and enjoyed it there. Another opportunity came up for John to advance his career, so we moved to New Jersey and John began work in midtown Manhattan, NY. What a change of pace and environment! John is excellent at sales and service and his career kept moving up.
Childcare was so expensive that it didn’t make sense for me to work, so, with another child on the way, I decided to stay home and provide in-home daycare. Our second daughter, Jenna, was another incredible blessing in our lives. I loved being able to stay home with my girls and my daycare business took off, as did the development of both our children. John’s two sisters and his mother lived in New York and Connecticut, so it was great having his family in our lives back east.
Those were special years, but in the end we realized we both missed Colorado greatly. John hardly had any time to spend with our sweet girls, and if we were ever going to be able to buy a home and spend more time together as a family, things had to change. We decided that the girls and I would move back to Colorado, and John would join us as soon as he could find employment in Colorado.
The girls and I moved in with my parents in Wood-moor until John could join us. My father, Bob, had fallen in love with Woodmoor and he and my mother moved there from Lakewood in 1974. As my father loved to golf, he became one of the Wood-moor Country Club’s original members. Everyone who has been there for years will remember Bobby and his wife Mary. One of the many special things I love about the Monument area is the his-tory and the sense of community that exists there and how people care for one another. It truly is a very special community and we have developed so many treasured friendships there over the years.
John joined us in Woodmoor and, twenty-six years ago, we bought our first home. We loved raising our two daughters there. Our children received an excellent education from the schools and had the added benefit of having their grandparents close by. I started working as a preschool teacher at Tri-Lakes Chapel when the girls were young and then substitute taught in District 38 for years while our girls were in school, which provided invaluable memories and experiences for me. We were grateful for the community we had built when my dear mother died 15 years ago, with all of the family at her side. She had great hospice support; they were truly angels for her. The asthma my mother had suffered with for so many years took its toll on her lungs and there was nothing else that could be done for her. We were so grateful for all the time we had together and the positive impact that she and my father had on our daughters’ lives.
It was then that I began thinking about real estate. I started to look at homes to move up because John’s job was going very well. I am so proud of him as he always exceeded his companies’ expectations. My REALTOR® at the time was Cindy Fuhr. She asked me to join her and her husband Rich in real estate as a salesperson. They took me under their wings and educated me greatly. I remember that my second day of real estate school was September 11, 2001. The Twin Towers were horrifically coming down and I called into Jones Real Estate College making sure that classes were canceled. I was told, “Oh no, classes are on!” This was my first clue that real estate, indeed, never stops.
I so appreciate the education and knowledge of the business I received from Cindy and Rich Fuhr and then Darrel Wass, when I subsequently joined his team. Starting and working on a team is an invaluable experience. I am forever grateful to them and to Joe and Tony Clement at RE/MAX Properties for the priceless education, training, and mentoring they provided me over the years.
John joined me in real estate in 2005. I was getting so busy I needed more help and we both decided we could be better together! Our girls were in high school and middle school and he and they would all sit at the kitchen table every night and do their homework together. I was always worried about the impact on our daughters of me being constantly on the phone or on the computer working and not being totally present. But Sarah and Jenna have told me that my work modeled for them the values of independence, hard work, and commitment, just as my mother modeled those traits for me.
Since then our daughter Sarah has graduated from Notre Dame, studied a semester in Ireland, served in nonprofits in Bangladesh and Egypt, and began her own non-prof-it assisting refugees. She earned a J.D. from Harvard Law School and is currently working for the U.S. Consulate in Ciudad Juarez, Mexico as a diplomat for the United States. Sarah and Paul have two young sons, Auggie, 3, and Leo, 11 months.
“These two amazing, caring, and talented women are the best things in my and John’s lives. We are so proud of how they live their lives and give back to their communities. They are our proudest accomplishment!”
They are the joys of our life! The greatest pleasure I have is watching those boys experiencing the simple things of the world: a blue sky, a bird singing, belly laughing at a funny song!
Jenna is an incredibly talented and fun young woman who is an archaeologist based out of Denver. She graduated from Mercyhurst College and then, like my father, attended the University of Denver and earned her master’s degree. She works for an international consulting firm performing archaeological surveys and writing environmental impact statements for land use planning and environmental permitting compliance. Jenna adores traveling and history. She always loved to make mud pies and be outdoors as a child, I should have known she would end up in archeology! She and her partner, Pablo, both enjoy living in Denver and keep active skiing, hiking, and traveling.
These two amazing, caring, and talented women are the best things in my and John’s lives. We are so proud of how they live their lives and give back to their communities. They are our proudest accomplishment!
For the past 18 months John and I have lived with and cared for my father, who is now 94 and unfortunately has had dementia for several years. We moved in with him as he needed more care. Caring for a parent can be grueling, especially given the long hours real estate work demands, but we have enjoyed being able to be there for him.
We are truly grateful for all the blessings we have received in our lives and the friendships we have made throughout the years. Through our involvement in the community with tennis friends, book club buddies, lotto ladies group, Tri-Lakes Women’s Club, St. Peter’s Catholic Church and with the Tri-Lakes Chamber of Commerce, we have received so much love and support and have friendships that will last forever! We try to repay some of the blessings over the years through giving back and volunteering through organizations such as; CASA,( Court Appointed Special Advocates) The Children’s Miracle Net-work, Tri-Lakes Cares and The Springs Rescue Mission.
As my parents taught me, and as I’ve learned throughout the years, community is the biggest secret to both our success and our happiness.
We are amazed every day about the quality, talent and kindness of the people on our team. We truly embrace that TEAM stands for Together Everyone Achieves More.
We see our role as mentors to help agents have a better work-life balance, earn more money with less work hours and be true professionals in the real estate community. Kristin Dionne is an extremely caring, knowledgeable agent who we are thrilled to have! Cassidy Jones is also a very talented and hard-working superstar who goes above and beyond for her clients and the team. We are forever grateful to our amazing listing coordinator Tricia Stack, to Lori Pitcher who is our fantastic marketing director and to Tanya Bingham, our wonderful licensed transaction coordinator! With this staff in place, our agents can really focus on giving quality service to their clients.
Real estate, as you all know, is constantly changing and we face new challenges every day. We always want to do the right thing and foster a fun-loving family culture that always has our client’s best interests at heart. We embrace change and technology, however we also realize how important the basic fundamentals are. Being involved and giving back to our communities is crucial in our business and our happiness. It is great having this vehicle to learn about other agents and teams in our area so we all can work together for the clients’ benefit.
My favorite quote is from Maya Angelou who said, “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” Our goal is to always give our clients exceptional service and extraordinary results!
We truly hope that 2020 will be an amazing year for all with great health, happiness, and growth in all opportunities everyone seeks out, as we embrace change and challenges.