After moving to Portland from Denmark, like many newcomers, Jean Rychlik was struck by the number of people she saw living on the streets. After all, as a licensed Realtor® and residential real estate investor, her career has been dedicated to finding housing. Instead of turning a blind eye, she sought solutions. While attending a presentation on housing, Jean learned about different organizations’ work within the affordable housing sector. That’s when she found out that Habitat is one of the only organizations in Portland that provides affordable homeownership opportunities to homebuyers with low incomes. Spurred into action, Jean began hosting tables at Habitat’s annual HopeBuilder Breakfasts. Since then, her volunteer roles have varied, from helping build houses on the construction site to using her creative energy as an auction committee member. She’s also a Carpenter’s Club member, a select group of committed monthly donors.

“With Habitat I know my efforts are making a difference, and it feels good. [Habitat is] making a real and measurable difference in our community,” Jean said.

Since late 2017, Jean and other members of Habitat’s auction committee have been hard at work preparing for this year’s Hard Hat & Black Tie Dinner and Auction. This will be Jean’s third and final year serving on the committee. Jean says in our laid-back city of Portland, the event is “a great excuse to ‘put on the ritz’”, while learning about Habitat’s mission.

“Knowing our efforts are putting families in homes is the most rewarding aspect of my involvement in Habitat,” she said.

Jean grew up in a home built by her family in central Michigan. Supporting Habitat runs in her family; two of her cousins purchased homes through Habitat, one located on a lot that Jean’s parents donated. With a father in construction, home building inspired her from a young age. After graduating with a Bachelor of Science in Marketing from Ferris State University, Jean spent some time in the 9-5 office world but quickly decided she needed something different. A self-described free spirit, she longed for the freedom that working for oneself allows. Pulling from her family’s roots in housing and construction, Jean began her successful career in real estate in 1997. After years spent in the industry, Jean knows the importance of a stable home.

“No one can build a successful, fulfilling life without shelter. A safe place to call home is an absolute necessity,” she said.

In her spare time, Jean likes to sew or curl up with a good book, and has a keen interest in the paranormal. Keeping an eye out for bumps in the night, of all the houses she’s toured through her career—big, small, old, and new—there’s only been one that gave her the heebie-jeebies. She didn’t linger around to discover why.

Jean and the rest of the auction committee are hard at work putting together a stellar event. Join us at our eighth annual Hard Hat & Black Tie Dinner and Auction on Friday, October 5th, 2018 at the Portland Art Museum. For more information, visit https://habitatportlandmetro.org/hhbt