Category Archives: community

Paragon’s Erica Levin on serving your community: “Just get started”

We recently spoke with Erica Levin, a realtor with SVR sponsor Paragon Real Estate Group, about her work, her non-profit involvement, and Paragon’s commitment to community service.

SVR: Tell us about your job as a realtor.

Erica: My work allows me to be a therapist, financial adviser, designer, concierge, and overall life helper and confidant. I love that my clients really engage with me and that I am able to help them in so many ways—it is wonderfully rewarding work!

SVR: Besides your work at Paragon, you are very active in your community. Tell us more.

Erica: Yes! Sometimes I wish I could clone myself to get it all done! I sit on the board of directors of Mission Graduates. We work with kids in the public schools providing tutoring, after-school programs, pregnancy prevention counseling, and a vital program called College Connect that provides stewardship in getting kids to college. I also co-founded Inner Mission Community Association. IMCA is a group made up of residents and business owners in the inner Mission. We work on issues that are of concern to our members and coordinate to work with our supervisor, the mayor’s office, the police, and other agencies to address many issues in our neighborhood.

SVR: What inspired you become involved in these organizations?

Erica: I value engaging with the community where I live. I cannot see a problem or concern and not try to do something to address it. I believe that kids are the key to our future, and these days they need a lot of support. Knowing your neighbors makes communities safer, and having a sense of community provides people a sense of place. I feel grateful to be in a position to work with so many committed people and to learn so much and offer what I know as a resource.

SVR: What advice would you give to people who want to help?

Erica: Just get started! There are so many ways to engage, whether it is mentoring a young person, spending time at your kid’s school or volunteering at a food bank, or sweeping the street in front of your house. We each have a gift to give, and I have found that just doing something and applying the time and attention is a great way to begin.

SVR: Why do feel it’s important to keep music education in the schools?

Erica: I loved music class as a kid. I gravitated toward the creative arts and learned so much about discipline and follow-through from the creative process. Kids need the arts, and music is a great way to express oneself. It troubles me that in our time, music has to be fought for in the public schools.

SVR: Paragon Real Estate is also very involved in the local community. Can you tell me more about that?

Erica: Paragon places a great importance on community involvement. We have a community fund that each agent can elect to contribute to and Paragon will match the contribution 50/50. We participate yearly in Habitat for Humanity, and gave away $35,500 in 2007 and $25,100 so far in 2008.

A native of Chicago, Erica Levin went to the Claremont Colleges in Claremont, California and fell in love with the west coast. Erica has a B.A. in psychology and studio art and an M.A. in marriage family child counseling as well as art therapy. After nine successful years as a prop and wardrobe stylist on national ad campaigns, annual reports, and television commercials, she followed her personal passion into a full-time real estate career. Erica lives and works in San Francisco.

Silicon Valley Rocks… and Shops! with Kaboodle

Besides sponsoring Silicon Valley Rocks, Kaboodle is a key participant in local TechCrunch, Blogher and TiE events. As one of the early pioneers of social shopping, Kaboodle believes in fostering innovation. A testament to that is Kaboodle’s CEO and co-founder, Manish Chandra, who generously mentors other entrepreneurs. Chandra is an alumnus of the Young Entrepreneur’s Association. He is also an active charter member of TiE and chairs the TiE Special Interest Group on Internet and New Media.

“With budget cuts in California and the elimination of special interest programs throughout our school system, Silicon Valley Rocks! allows us to give back to the community and not only encourage but also stimulate our youth’s interest in the music and the arts,” says Chandra.

Kaboodle has a rocker of its own: while most employees are “more adept at playing Rock Band instruments than real ones,” resident Kaboodler mightyj is the talented bass player of the slow-core, super-mellow band Coastal. Since forming in 1999, Coastal has performed everywhere from L.A. to England. “Whether we’re grooving to Coastal tunes or any other musician’s, music is extremely important to us. In fact, some of our favorite products we feature on are musically inspired or themed,” says Chandra.

Kaboodle is a strong supporter of music as part of any child’s complete education and advocates for the arts as a way to increase overall achievement, citing studies that consistently show students who participate in arts programs display significant increases in self-esteem and cognitive skills.

About Kaboodle

Kaboodle is the largest and fastest-growing online social shopping community where people discover, recommend and share products. At the heart of Kaboodle is its engaged community of passionate shoppers—nearly 11 million strong! Kaboodle offers a forum for people to connect and inspire each other through shared advice, product feedback and suggestions, and the ability to create and join groups. Members have wish lists, styleboards, polls and other cool widgets at their fingertips, all of which they can use to express their own unique style.