Rudinoff Real Estate, Broker
Sarah grew up on the island of Kauai, the daughter of an Episcopal priest and a firsthand witness to the hardships of homelessness. She watched her father help Kauai’s homeless population throughout her childhood, and she will tell you, “I grew up with the knowledge that it was my responsibility to care for those who had less opportunities than I did.”
She moved to Seattle in 1993 and she started her own real estate business ten years ago. Sarah fell in love with the work. “I get to walk inside people’s big decisions about their lives and be there with them,” she says. “It’s a responsibility I don’t take lightly.”
Sarah is also an accomplished performer. She sings at the Triple Door, performs on stage at the 5th Avenue, and writes and performs her own full-length solo shows. She has also sung the national anthem at two Seahawks games.
Sarah’s other philanthropic work, in addition to Agents of Change, supports her passion for the arts. She has hosted benefits for the SAM, the Henry Art Gallery, Velocity Dance Center, Blue Earth Alliance, and On the Boards.
Why are you an Agent of Change?
“I really believe in trying to create a more equitable playing field when it comes to housing in Seattle. I want Seattle to be a city that can sustain all people, not just middle-class and wealthy people.”
All of us work with homes on a day-to-day basis. Why is having a home so important?
“There’s a stability about home. People project themselves into their homes: their family life, their family unity, all the daily life things that go on in a home. Our childhoods are chaotic or nonchaotic based on what our home was like (food in the fridge, calm voices, and so on). Home matters, because it’s the place where we spend our lives.
“Not having a home that you know is going to be there is such an enormous stress, and there’s already enough stress in day-to-day life. If you don’t have a home, you don’t have a place to get your clothes ready for a job. You can’t get your kids asthma meds if don’t have a bathroom to put them in. You need stability to run a family.”
“Everyone can have their life fall apart, no matter what their income is. A young pregnancy, a nasty divorce. I’ve seen addiction in my own family, so I relate to the idea that a couple wrong decisions, if you don’t have the resources or the family backing, can land you in some pretty terrible straits quickly.”
What impresses you most about Mary’s Place?
“How comprehensive it is. Mary’s Place isn’t just a drop-in center or a place to get some meals provided. They figure out what a person needs in all areas: health, childcare, housing, mental health issues, and lack of sustainable food. A person can get information and help about all the issues that got them there, like underpaid jobs, lack of jobs, addiction, or recovery. It’s a place where people can touch a community.
“Also, I’m impressed by how Mary’s Place has evolved as they’ve seen that people’s needs are varied. They saw the need for a men’s shelter, because there are men out there with children—it’s not just women and children—so Mary’s Place opened their men’s facility. That impresses me, that they aren’t turning a blind eye to needs.”
What inspires you to help those less fortunate?
“My father was a Vietnam vet and a priest, and my family did a lot with the homeless. There was a lot of homelessness on Kauai, because people would come there thinking they could live on the beach—but it doesn’t work like that. It’s illegal to sleep on the beach, actually. Once people realized that, though, it was too late. And it’s expensive to leave—you can’t just hitch a ride off an island—so people got stuck.
“My father had a discretionary fund for those homeless people, to help them get back to their families, or to put them in housing. He also counseled Vietnam veterans. He would host a dinner for veterans every week, and I would serve food. I grew up with the knowledge that it was my responsibility to care for those who had less opportunities than I did.”