Archives: Community Service

A chat with Jan LeSuer, Realtor

Posted on: February 23, 2017

Where are you working today/where are your appointments:

It is an exciting beginning to the year, and my schedule today reflects that. I am spending some time at the office, but have already been to Ardmore, Mount Airy and Wyndmoor. Both listing homes and walking a client through the inspection process.

Where is your favorite on-the-go lunch choice?

Tacos! Mi Puebla in Mount Airy, or El Limon in Conshohocken and Ambler. Pho is another lunch favorite. There are a variety of great noodle places on Adams Avenue off the Boulevard.

Do  you have a favorite new restaurant that you are really excited about?

Banjara Indian Restaurant in Chestnut Hill. Martha and I love Indian food.

What do you like to do in your free time – besides selling real estate?

I try to swim laps everyday. In warm weather there is nothing more relaxing for me than getting out our 38 pound Kevlar canoe and hitting the lakes and rivers, birding along the way. We hike a lot up at the Pulpit and Pinnacle, near the Appalachian Trail, and further north too. But, my ideal heaven is a great meal, probably prepared by Martha and me, and long rambling conversations with friends with plenty of good wine.

iPhone or Android?

I have an Android. I am not an Android.

What does your perfect weekend look like?

Well, one of those two days I will be showing houses, which is always fun. At home, our granddaughter Cece will be joining us for a sleepover, with first a walk at the Morris Arboretum, and then Frozen and popcorn. The next day Martha and I will get the canoe out or head to the Shore for a few hours. Dinner is likely to be at Phil’s in Blue Bell. Incidentally, Phil’s has the best martinis in the area. You’re welcome.

What is your favorite dessert?

Crème brûlée. (Best I ever had was at the Angry Trout restaurant in Grand Marais, Minnesota one January, sitting just above a crystallized Lake Superior with a slim pane of glass between me and the 20 below weather outside. Ambiance is so much a part of dining, don’t you know.)

Where is your favorite place to vacation?

This is an impossible question to answer! I love both big cities and wilderness, and extremes in climate, so both hot places and very cold. I guess it depends upon the mood, whether we want laid back or something more intense. Probably our most successful have been to places like the Yucatan and Costa Rica where we can combine both.

Martha and I just got back from a week staying with friends and clients in the Florida Keys. One is the production designer for the Netflix series Bloodline and the other acts in the show with Sissy Spacek. Not only was the kayaking, snorkeling and birdwatching spectacular but going on the set to watch the acting and taping was amazing.

We really mix up the types of vacation. Over the years some adventures have taken me to Africa, Alaska, Hudson Bay, the Oregon Cascades, Costa Rica, and of course, Mexico. Martha and I love Isla Holbox off the Yucatan. Look it up.

My dad always wanted to see Tierra del Fuego, so for his 75th birthday I took him on a long tour of Patagonia, both in Argentina and Chile.

I have seen condors, scarlet macaws, and all kinds of wildlife along the way. I was up at Hawk Mountain one day this past November and saw 11 eagles, both Bald and Golden, in one day.  Last year Martha got us on a boat out of Cape May that took us to the Continental Shelf, 100 miles out for a day and a night to see pelagic birds unseen on land. It was tremendous.

What is your favorite season of the year?

I like the turn of the seasons, the transitional moments of the year.

What is your favorite style of house?

As I said, we just got back from the Florida Keys. While in Key West I became aware of “eyebrow” houses there. They have extended awnings that descend below the upper floor windows providing some longer hours of shade during the summer heat. They are just beautiful homes, with of course, lovely flora surrounding them.

Why did you decide to become a realtor?

I love people, all types, in all stages of life. There is not a better way to get to know people closely than real estate. The relationships, which are built out of an intense experience, can last and last. Every deal is different, the people involved have different motivations and vision. Guiding folks through either the process of buying or selling is exciting, and every day is new and completely different than the day before. Clients become friends and then clients again as they proceed through their lives. I have done many things in my life… Peace Corps volunteer, teacher, librarian, elected official… nothing has been as satisfying.

To contact Jan, call 610-952-6805 or email janlesuer@elfantwissahickon.com

Visit Jan’s Homepage here!

Jan LeSuer

Jan Hiking in Cascades

Jan- Hiking in Cascades


Schools showcase achievements for area Realtors

Posted on: January 20, 2015

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When local Realtors toured some of Northwest Philadelphia’s public schools, they discovered that, just as you can’t judge a book by its cover, you can’t judge a school by the news.

The Nortwest Philadelphia Public School Realtor Tour, organized by the Mt. Airy Schools Coalition and Elfant Wissahickon Realtors, was formed to showcase the educational opportunities and strong school programs available to prospective home-buyers in Mt. Airy and the surrounding areas, while counteracting negative opinions about the school district.

Katey McGrath, director of operations at Elfant Wissahickon and a board member of Friends of Jenks, along with Abby Thaker, of the Mt. Airy Schools Coalition, came up with the idea to arrange the tour last year…

Continue reading on The Chestnut Hill Local Website


How to protect your home when you leave for vacation.

Posted on: July 30, 2014

Summertime is the time of year when most Americans take vacation. Over 60% of us, in fact, take our vacations in July or August. On average, we are gone for about 2 weeks per season.

That said, it is extremely important to protect your house and belongings when you are gone.  Thieves can case your neighborhood, looking for houses that appear vacant and can even be as bold as ringing the doorbell to see if you are home. There are a few sensible steps to make sure your house is protected when you are way, below are a few of them:

1) Never post your vacation dates and plans on social media, and if you do, make sure your privacy settings are set so just your trusted friends can see your posts.

2) Before you leave, make sure all of your doors and windows are locked and that your ground floor curtains or shades are pulled.

3) Invest in a home security or camera system if you leave your house unattended regularly. There are now low-cost options that can help protect your valuables.

4) Make sure it appears as though you are home. Keep outdoor lights on, illuminating your property enough to deter burglars. Set some indoor lights to timers in different rooms. Leave a television or radio on, or set it to a timer, as light to moderate sound will make thieves second guess a break in.

5) If you go on an extended trip, schedule lawn maintenance. Nothing says vacant property like an overgrown yard.

6) Have a trusted family member or neighbor check on your house every day or two and report back to you. This will ease your mind in addition to appearing like you have company if someone is watching you house.

7) Don’t forget to have your neighbor or family member pick up your mail and newspapers. Burglars also check mailboxes to see if letters have been piling up for some time.

If you follow some of these simple suggestions, it will go a long way in protecting your property and easing your mind so you can enjoy your rest and relaxation. Happy Summer!

 


Elfant Wissahickon Realtors to host The Friends of The Wissahickon Forbidden 10k this Weekend!

Posted on: May 15, 2014

The Friends of the Wissahickon (FOW) is hosting a 10K race along Forbidden Drive in the northwest section of Philadelphia on May 18.  The 10K, 6.2-mile loop course begins at 9 a.m. and takes place in the Wissahickon Park, along Forbidden Drive and will pass by many historic points of interest including the Thomas Mill covered bridge, the Tedyuscung Indian statue and Valley Green Inn. The race is perfect for both the serious runner and the occasional runner/walker.

There will be awards for male and female divisions as well as various age groups. Bryn Mawr Running Co. will be doing the chip timing for the race.  The cost of registration is $40 per entrant. After May 1, it is $50. Register for the race at fowforbidden10k.org.

Funds raised from the race will assist in the continued restoration and preservation of the historic Valley Green Inn and Wissahickon Park.

Click HERE for more info!


The Chestnut Hill Rotary Chili Cookoff

Posted on: April 10, 2014

The Chestnut Hill Rotary Chili Cook-off took place on Sunday, April 6th at the Lutheran Seminary on Germantown Ave.  This is the Chestnut Hill Rotary’s biggest fundraiser of the year and proceeds from the event provide funds to Jenks Elementary School, Shelterbox, Power Up Gambia, Hope Childrens Home in Guyana and many other worthy causes.

For the second year Elfant Wissahickon Realtors participated as a Rose Gold Sponsor along with the Larry DiFranco Team, the Wendy Schwartz Team, and the Louise D’Alessandro Team.  Local firefighters judged the chili entries from 12 different local restaurants and caterers to arrive at the following winners for the day:

Mt. Airy Firefighters judged these as the best in a blind taste test:

1ST PLACE TRADITIONAL (MEAT) CHILI
FATTY’S BAR & GRILL, WYNDMOOR

1ST PLACE VEGETARIAN/VEGAN
TROLLEY CAR DINER, MT. AIRY

1ST PLACE EXOTIC
KEYSTONE HOSPICE, GLENSIDE

FIREFIGHTER’S FAVORITE AWARD (BEST OVERALL CHILI)
FATTY’S BAR & GRILL, WYNDMOOR

People’s Choice Awards:

1ST PLACE
McMENAMIN’S TAVERN, MT AIRY,

2ND PLACE
MAGERKS’S PUB & GRILL, GLENSIDE

Over 500 people attended the event and thoroughly appreciated the great chili while their kids enjoyed the balloon animals, face painting and magician throughout the day.


Elfant Wissahickon Realtors Partners with Face To Face Germantown for its 2014 Anti-Poverty Initiative

Posted on: April 2, 2014

From L to R: Jared E. Pontz (VP and Managing Partner, Martin Elfant, Inc.), Bob Elfant (President, Elfant Wissahickon Realtors), Susan O'Hagan Marley (Director of Development, Face To Face Germantown), Louise D'Alessandro (Partner, Elfant Wissahickon Realtors) and Larry DiFranco (Partner, Elfant Wissahickon Realtors).

Philadelphia, Pa – April 2, 2014 Elfant Wissahickon Realtors, Philadelphia’s Leading Independent Real Estate Brokerage, in conjunction with Martin Elfant Inc., Class and Northwest Abstract, and Direct Mortgage Loan Co., is proud to announce Face to Face in Germantown as its community partner for the company’s 2014 anti poverty initiative.

Face to Face is a multi-faceted service organization that works with individuals and families living below the poverty level. It is located at 109 East Price Street in Germantown and offers a Dining Room, a nurse managed health center, a legal center, social services center and children’s summer camps and after school programs for people in the region. They also have a “Washeteria” where those in need can take a hot shower and receive a new set of clothes. Face to Face serves 2,500 annually and has been a stable presence in Germantown for over 20 years.

Philadelphia’s poverty rate is at an historic high of 26% according to a recent article in the Philadelphia Inquirer. On the heels of Elfant Wissahickon Realtors’ most successful year ever, the partners of the company, along with those at Martin Elfant Inc., have decided to structure a campaign that would enable the companies to mount a significant antipoverty initiative.

The companies have set a fundraising goal of $30,000. The agents and owners of Elfant Wissahickon will donate funds every time someone does business with the company. Guaranteed Rate, Mortgage Master Inc. and First Choice Loan Services, the preferred lenders of Elfant Wissahickon, are making donations each time a Buyer client of EW secures a mortgage. Northwest and Class Abstract are making a contribution for each title insurance policy placed. The principals of Elfant Wissahickon Realtors and Martin Elfant, Inc. will make an additional donation of 50% of the total funds raised after 12 months.

Home buyers and sellers will also receive information about Face To Face at the Settlement table which will allow them to make personal donations through Elfant Wissahickon Realtors. Bob Elfant adds, “The money will be used to fund an increase in the level of service provided by Face to Face, an organization that treats their clients with dignity and respect. We hope our contribution will make a real difference in the lives of people served by Face to Face.”


Some Photos From The North Light "Madness In March" 5k!

Posted on: March 25, 2014

On Sunday, March 23rd Elfant Wissahickon Realtors was proud to have sponsored and participated in the North Light Madness In March 5k!

The race/walk took place on the Manayunk Towpath and all proceeds went to benefit the North Light Community Center, a staple in Manayunk for over 75 years! Its mission is to enable people of all ages and abilities in our communities, especially those most in need, to reach their full potential as productive and responsible citizens through initiatives that support and enrich children, teens, and families.


The Empty Bowl Benefit Dinner

Posted on: November 21, 2013

The Empty Bowl Benefit Dinner, an important annual community service dinner, has been around for over 20 years.

On the night of the Empty Bowl Dinner, each person chooses a donated, handcrafted bowl. Soup donated from many businesses, schools, and individuals from Arcadia University and the surrounding community is eaten from these bowls. The bowl is then taken home to serve as a reminder of the many people who eat from an empty bowl every day.

This year, half of the proceeds raised were donated to the Philippines relief effort. Elfant’s Wissahickon REALTORS Jake Markovitz, Larry DiFranco, Rena Asher, Anita Lam, Amy Greenstein, Cathy Davis, and Chas Hendricksen volunteered their time for this wonderful event. Chas even took some great pictures, posted above. More information about this year’s Empty Bowl Benefit Dinner can be found HERE.


East Mt. Airy residents prevail as abandoned site becomes public park

Posted on: October 24, 2013

(Source: Newsworks)

Philadelphia now has six more acres of public parkland, thanks to an effort kick-started by residents nearly 20 years ago.

The wild plot in East Mt. Airy, long used as a dumping site, has languished for decades. It was privately owned, but became public earlier this month after a deal brokered by the city’s Department of Parks and Recreation.

“It is with great pleasure and satisfaction that I share with you that the city’s acquisition of the Wissahickon East parcel is complete. It is officially ours,” Mark Focht, the department’s first deputy commissioner, said in a statement sent out to nearby residents.

Neighbors first organized around the issue around 1995. In 2004, they banded together under the banner of the Wissahickon East Project to push for the parcel to become a community asset.

“I assumed that this day would come, but there were certainly some times that it looked pretty bleak because these kinds of changes are not so easy to make,” said Elizabeth Martens, who co-chairs WEP’s board. “The developer needed to cooperate with it, the city had to be in a position to accept the land and that takes time.”

The land was previously owned by DeSouza Brown Inc., which, at one time, considered building condominiums on the property.

The effort was halted in 2006 after a historical easement was placed on the property. The resident-led initiative, negotiated over several years, protected the land from development and effectively gave the city the opportunity to acquire the property.

DeSouza Brown later donated the land to the city after a bill to that end was passed in City Council.

Under the terms of the historical easement, the parcel, which straddles Cresheim Creek, will remain largely as-is save for a simple path. Now that it’s parkland, the city and volunteers can access it freely to make sure it stays clean.

The first cleanup is scheduled for Dec. 7.

“The goal is to have the land in as much of a natural state as possible,” said Martens.

The park, which runs along Cresheim Valley Drive off of Germantown Avenue, becomes public as Philadelphia considers creating a land bank to make it easier to put vacant properties to work.


Volunteers give Jenks art room a face-lift before opening day

Posted on: September 11, 2013

(Source: Chestnut Hill Local)

When students at J.S. Jenks Elementary School visit their art room next week, their jaws will hit the floor.

Thanks to the generosity of many community members, led by Chestnut Hill Rotary and Elfant Wissahickon Realtors, the Jenks basement art room has undergone an amazing transformation.

Calling the project a “face-lift” doesn’t seem to do it justice. Imagine a very dark, dirty, basement art room with a scattering of supplies, dried paint bottles and scraps of paper. “Depressing” and “pathetic atmosphere” were the words used by Rotarian Carol Tyler to describe the art room during a June Rotary meeting.

Denise Chapline, fellow Rotarian and member of Elfant Wissahickon’s DiFranco Team, was touched by these words and leaped into action. Together with professional photographer and Rotarian Carol Bates, Chapline launched the renovation project.

Appeals when out to Rotarians, community members, Elfant Wissahickon realtors and brokers and local businesses. As is often the case in Chestnut Hill, if you ask, people give.

Chapline’s first donor was Old City Paint & Decorating (Benjamin Moore). After writing a solicitation letter to manager Thomas Donnell, she stopped in the store to follow up. He told her he would happy to give everything she requested and he promptly responded with paint, drop cloths and brushes for the entire project.

Later that week, Bates bumped into Handyman on the Hill John O’Donovan, while shopping at Kilian’s. She told him about the project and O’Donovan jumped at the chance to help out. He dedicated three full work days and helped the volunteer crew prep for painting and repair furniture.

Chapline put out a call to fellow realtors and brokers and collected $1,000. Combined with donations from Chestnut Hill Rotary and individual donors, more than $3,000 will be dedicated for the purchase of art supplies throughout the school year.

Perhaps most stunning is the efforts of the volunteers over the last few weeks. More than 275 hours have been dedicated to clean, prime, paint, repair and organize the room.

“It took a lot of elbow grease as we cleaned, sorted papers, reorganized, and repainted,” Chapline said.

Large oak art tables were carefully refinished by Frank McCarthy, of Artisan Restoration and Remodeling, who is also making four large wooden display boards to mount students’ art work. Like so many of those involved, McCarthy was happy to contribute.

“Carol asked and I said ‘yes’ – plus, if there’s any chance to give back, I always try to do that,” McCarthy said.

For most of the last two weeks there has been a flurry of activity in the art room as volunteers from Rotary, Friends of Jenks, Jenks Beautification Committee, Elfant Wissahickon and community residents worked feverishly to complete the project before school opens.

“What makes this project so great is the collaboration between so many members of the community,” said Chapline. “Everyone is keeping the students at the heart of the project, this is so very heartwarming.”

When Central High freshman Abby Gordon saw the email requesting volunteers, she responded to earn community service hours. She arrived with her mother, Nicole, who, after seeing the project, decided she would stick around to help. Nicole just completed her degree from La Salle University and wanted to give back to the community. The mother/daughter pair worked together each day and was usually the last to leave.

“I just can’t believe how dedicated they are,” Bates said . “They keep showing up and working hard all day. We have so many amazing volunteers. That’s the only way we could have gotten this done.”

Chapline agreed. She believes that everyone in the community wants good things for Jenks but often are uncertain of how or where to act. This project was an appealing endeavor that touched people in many different ways. It was small, manageable and had a very specific outcome and time line.

She considers the art room project to be a great model for community improvement.

“We need to take bites, like this, into things that need to be done,” she said. “If we do that, and work together, we will get a lot accomplished in our community.”

The transformed art room will be enjoyed by students all year. Despite Philadelphia School District (PSD) budget cuts, students will receive art instruction from volunteers David Green Laura Eyring, a Jenks parent. Green is a PSD retired art teacher who teaches Jenks art classes three days a week, and Eyring will assist in the planning and instruction. Additionally, a group of 15 Jenks students will participate in the Fresh Artists program.

When asked about the art room renovation, Principal Mary Lynskey was silent for a moment, then took a breath and said, “This is absolutely unbelievable – they gave that room an extreme, extreme makeover. It’s just another example of how people come together when we need it most.” (Paula M. Riley)