Brokers Making An Impact | Charlene & The Big Sister Program

October 27, 2020

With an office of over 60 brokers, we are always amazed at the positive impact that our team has on the community. Recently, we had the pleasure of sitting down with Charlene Hanson, a Windermere Kirkland Broker, and her “little sister” Raina, to learn more about how they have both made a positive impact on each other’s lives. 


For those that may not know, could you explain what the Big Sister/Big Brother program is? 

Charlene: The program matches an adult with a child that needs a little extra attention. The program that we entered was through her elementary school. The point of the program is to mentor your “little sister”, give them confidence, be a friend to them, help them with homework, and just be there for them. I would say being their friend is the biggest part of the program. 


What made you want to get involved? 

Charlene: I was actually inspired by Mike, the owner here at Windermere Kirkland. He always talked a lot about community programs, and it inspired me to keep giving back. I always have done volunteer programs around Christmas, so this was a great way to give back year-round. I love kids and giving back, so it was the perfect fit. That was ten years ago.   


When did you first get introduced to each other? 

Raina: I remember Charlene always being there and being a part of my life. I think it was third grade when we first met though. I have great memories of doing lots of fun things during lunch throughout my childhood.

What kind of activities have you done together? 

Raina:  We did a lot of creative activities, like arts and crafts. One time we carved a fake plastic pumpkin, and made a huge mess. As I got older we would go on lots of adventures as well, like ziplining, and rock climbing. Charlene also got me into reading. She would always read to me and together we read so many books! 

Charlene: We read so many books together! I really tried to encourage her and worked to make  it fun. I remember Peewee the Circus Dog, which is a book from my childhood I shared with Raina. This helped turn her into an avid reader. 

What kind of impact have you had on each other’s lives since meeting?  

Raina: Charlene has taught me a lot, including being a good, kind, person and being generous and thoughtful of others. She has been a huge impact in my life. 

Charlene: It has been amazing to watch Raina grow up. She was very shy when we first met, and now she is much more confident. Raina also outperformed her siblings in school.  Since she graduated high school and graduated from the program, she moved to Marysville and I moved to Auburn, but we still have gotten together and done fun things like indoor skydiving, ziplining, mariners games. We will always have that special bond.  


What is one of the best memories you have together? 

Charlene: It has to be my 50th birthday when we went indoor skydiving. My kids and family were all together celebrating, and Raina was with us too. She is part of my family! Tied for first has to be Raina’s high school graduation, where I got to meet her family and have lunch with them afterwards. I got teary eyed and was so proud of her! 

Raina: I have such a fun memory of us carving a fake styrofoam pumpkin. It made a huge mess, but we had so much fun we were laughing and just enjoying our time together. I also had a lot of fun on our many adventures ziplining and indoor rock climbing!

Where are you at now and what are some of your future goals? 

Raina: Right now I just got my first apartment, and I work at a title company. I am planning on going back to school at community college. I’m still thinking about my major but I am looking into Literature or English.  


If someone were asking you why they should join this organization, what would you say? 

Charlene: You can make a difference in a child’s life and they can make a difference in yours. Raina is a friend forever. 

Raina: Yes, she is definitely a friend for life!


For those reading the blog, what are some ways they can also get involved? 

Charlene: There is an application process, and you fill out an application, someone calls you back, they do a background check, then you are matched. Raina was actually my second match. My first match, we just didn’t click, she was way more into sports, then she moved away. Then Raina and I were matched and we instantly clicked. They also have someone who calls and checks in every month. It is a great program and I highly recommend it to anyone! 

For more information visit their website:

Our goal at Windermere Kirkland is to be a resource for the community. Aside from helping you buy or sell your home, our team is dedicated to adding value to our city. Every other Tuesday we will be posting a blog post highlighting different people, businesses, communities, and more throughout Kirkland. Stay tuned!