Agent Spotlight: Jonathan Eng’s Epic Summer Staycation
The Century 21 Redwood Realty agent discovers his real estate business isn’t the only source of “uplifting and eye-opening” life experiences
It’s 3 o’clock in the morning, and Dulles International Airport is practically a ghost town. Real estate agent Jonathan Eng is a ball of nerves as he sits with his partner Kevin at the arrivals gate waiting for their lives to change.
The pair are bleary eyed and anxious when they first meet Henry, a 13-year-old orphan boy from Colombia with “the biggest smile and fantastic heart,” who will be spending five weeks of summer with Jonathan and Kevin through the Kidsave Summer Miracles Program.
“It’s an amazing program because it gives older kids the chance to meet families who are interested in adopting or helping the children find forever families,” Jonathan said in an email. “It’s a sad fact that older kids tend to get overlooked in the adoption process, so this program really spoke to us.”
Jonathan and Kevin became acquainted with Kidsave through close friends of theirs who hosted and eventually adopted their son through the program, Jonathan said.
Before Henry’s arrival in the United States on July 3, Jonathan said he and Kevin had a chance to read about Henry’s story and then meet over a video call. An interpreter helped facilitate the conversation.
In time, they learned that Henry is a lot like many boys his age, a fan of futbol (soccer) and video games, scary movies, swimming and music – especially reggaeton, style of music originating in Latin America that combines dance hall and hip hop rhythms with vocals that are a combination of rapping and singing.
“If nothing else, we wanted to give him the chance to have an absolutely amazing summer doing lots of fun things,” Jonathan said.
The trio forged many fond memories over the summer, including the time Henry taught Jonathan and Kevin how to prepare one of his favorite Colombian desserts, called arepuelas, which are similar to fried funnel cake and can be eaten plain or with sugar, chocolate or fruit, Jonathan said.
“We of course had no idea what they even were, or how to start making them,” Jonathan said. “But Henry took charge and started pulling the ingredients out of the cupboard and mixing everything together. … Really delicious, and so much fun working together to make them!”
The Kidsave Summer Miracles program gives orphans ages 10 to 15, who are overseas, a chance at a family, Jonathan said. While the kids are Stateside, they learn about U.S. culture, attend summer camp and experience life in an American family.
Kidsave volunteers and staff offer support for hosts as they engage with their local communities and get to know the kids – in hopes of finding them an adoptive family. Many host families adopt the children they host, according to the organization’s website.
“We would love the chance to see Henry again,” Jonathan said. “We are excited to see where the future leads. We absolutely plan to remain involved with the Kidsave program, whether it be as a host family again, as volunteers, or as support for other families who are hosting kids.”
Jonathan’s own family emigrated to the United States from Hong Kong in the 1970s, and he has called the Capital Region home all his life, he said, adding that his passion for architecture is what steered him toward the real estate business.
Through his business with Century 21 Redwood Realty, Jonathan enjoys meeting diverse individuals with all sorts of backgrounds and from all walks of life, he said, and relishes the chance to help clients with their real estate needs. Real estate can be “an uplifting, eye-opening process,” he said.
Turns out the same holds true for host families involved with Kidsave.
“We learned how important it is to see things from the perspective of the child,” Jonathan said. “These kids have very different histories and backgrounds than we do, and they have experienced childhood in a much different way than most of us have. It’s vital to remain patient, and always think carefully about how [the child] may perceive your actions and words.”
Jonathan said he highly recommends others check out how to get involved with Kidsave programs and added the organization needs support from the local community and adopting a child is not a requirement: “It’s an incredibly rewarding experience and really makes a difference in these kids’ lives.”
For more information, visit kidsave.org or contact Assistant Manager Madeline Trachtenberg by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org, or call 310-241-3083.