Kristy Hamby is not often found sitting in one spot for long. The busy Realtor, with Windermere City Group, spends her days touring the city with clients, helping them find the perfect home. As she juggles client appointments and submits and negotiates offers, she also serves as a director on the Spokane Association of Realtor’s board, attending education and advocacy events in Olympia, which serve to educate the legislature on property rights for clients as well as tax needs for small business owners. Don’t think she puts her feet up when she gets home, though. She still has her family to care for and enjoy, and on top of it all, she is the Vice President of Military and Community outreach for the Spokane Lilac Festival Association. In this role she oversees the military and community involvement for the Spokane Lilac Festival Association. As if that weren’t enough, Kristy is also the President-elect for the Spokane Lilac Festival, meaning next year, she will have even more responsibilities on her shoulders.
Of course, being on the move has been a lifestyle for Kristy, whose husband, Brad, was in the Air Force for 22 years, and whose assignment changes kept Kristy and the entire family on the go, moving to, embracing, and enjoying eight different communities throughout the U.S. When it came time for Brad to retire from the Air Force, Kristy and her husband knew they wanted to stay in Spokane, where they had been stationed at Fairchild Air Force Base.
“We loved the size of the community,” she says of what made them decide to stay here. “Everyone I meet is involved in the community, and there are so many activities to do, but the thing that stood out was how the community loved the military and honored their veterans.”
While some people may have settled quietly into their new, permanent home, and taken their time to get to know the community, not so for Kristy, who jumped not only into building her successful real estate career (all the more impressive considering that is not easy to do in a city where you don’t have built-in, long-term connections), but she also embraced her volunteer role with the Spokane Lilac Festival.
“It is truly an annual celebration honoring our military, recognizing our youth and showcasing our community,” says Kristy, describing what they Spokane Lilac Festival represents. “I think most people think parade and princesses when they think Lilac Festival. This is true, but it is all so much more. Military. Leadership. Pride. Community; these words come to mind when I think Lilac.”
The Spokane Lilac Festival has been an important part of the Spokane community for 80 years, and it exists only because of the time and effort dedicated volunteers like Kristy give to the organization, all in the hope of keeping the community organization strong and vibrant. “As a non-profit, the number of dollars and volunteers we are in need of to keep the parade going is great,” she says. With most homes now dual-income, and people’s schedules busier than ever, she recognizes it is difficult to get the numbers of volunteers that the organization once drew, but she also knows Spokane is a community that always is willing to work together to support local organizations.
“I’ve not met anyone who is ‘just’ a citizen of Spokane and doesn’t help,” she says. “Everyone seems to be involved in something. I think the younger generation is willing to help, they just aren’t always aware of what the needs are, so it takes some mentorship.”
That mentorship is alive and well in the example set by people who make Spokane, the community and the people within it a priority in their lives; people like Kristy, who give of their time, energy and talents. Kristy is a gal-on-the-go, with many different hats to wear, and our community is all the better for it.
There are so many great non profits, and so many great causes, so how do you decide which charity events you will attend or which causes you will support?
Truly, it is the ones that touch my heart. I am all over the board, but my favorite events other than the Lilac Festival have been supporting the West Central area around Kendall Yards where I work. Most recently and one of the neatest causes I have enjoyed is Spark Central. Love what they are doing to inspire our youth in the creative arts.
What do you consider your greatest accomplishment other than your family?
Starting a real estate business in a new city. I had to start from the bottom like everyone else in a town where I really didn’t know many people and have built it into a successful career.
What is the most important contribution you’ve made to Spokane over the last 10 years?
I believe I am helping in some small way to keep our parade going. As non-profits suffer from lack of volunteers and donations these days, I feel my involvement with the Spokane Lilac Festival is to keep the parade going for the city. I think our Veterans need that reminder that we value their service to our country and it reminds our people in Spokane what our freedom and quality of life is paid with – just watch the Gold Star moms and the banners they carry and you remember instantly it comes with a great cost.
What qualities do you look for in a friend?
Trustworthiness, integrity, and a kind and giving spirit. I treasure the people in my life that are accepting of all in everyone. We are all quirky and have good and bad parts, but it is your friends who know the bad and still love you for the total person you are.
Aside from your family, what is your most treasured possession?
Our home. Having moved all over the country in my husband’s time in the Air Force, I treasure the opportunity to come home to the same house every day! I love continually making it better and more “ours” and knowing that when I put the Christmas decorations away, they do not have to be break proof to survive the next move. I love watching the trees we planted grow each year and seeing the neighbors at the annual gatherings. It is that sense of home, community and family that I treasure most in my life.
With all the activities you juggle, how do you handle the stress that might come with it? What keeps you grounded and focused?
Sometimes I just need a down day. I can’t always tell when it will come, sometimes my husband can tell before I do that it is time to play hooky and escape to take a half ski day at Mt. Spokane or 49 Degrees. Sometimes I just need to unplug and put that phone down. Turn it off and step away. The glorious nature around us here in Spokane grounds me. Whether it be the view from the top of a chair lift or just the view as I drive along the river, I am in awe of the beauty of this beautiful area in which we call home. But it really is my clients that keep me grounded the most – they are in the middle of one of their biggest stressors – buying or selling a home. It is my memories of our many moves that remind me what they are going through and what I can do to help alleviate that stress for them.
Do you have a cherished family tradition?
I do! We call it “Cuban Christmas Eve.” My dad’s family is from Cuba. I know, right? My maiden name is Rodriguez. On Christmas Eve when I was little growing up in Tampa, Florida, my father’s entire family would come over to our house and we would celebrate Christmas as a family with dishes like black beans and rice, mojo chicken and “ropa vieja” or “picadillo” and we would just be family together. Of course there were presents and Christmas carols, but the memories of food and family are what keeps us preserving that tradition every year. The kids look forward to Cuban Christmas Eve almost as much as they look forward to Christmas morning presents!
What are your favorite places to travel, and leisure activities in which to participate?
We used to travel quite a bit when we were younger to Europe – especially when I could join my husband on fun deployments to England, France or Germany – but now, we tend to appreciate more about our area. My husband loves to sail, so our most recent adventure was bare boating a 40-foot sailboat out of Bellingham, all through the San Juan Islands, with old Air Force friends who now live in Seattle. We saw orca whales just feet from our boat and we explored the beauty of those hard to see areas in the Inland Northwest.
What is your favorite for each of the following?
Book: The Charm School, by Nelson Demille
Movie: Harry Potter Movies
TV Show: Outlander
Who do you really admire?
I admire people who have talents I do not have. I admire those that can make others laugh. The ability to put everyone at ease and to feel at ease always in your own skin is a rare talent. I am often shy or uncomfortable in social gatherings and wish I had more of that ability to be witty and to put myself and others at ease. My dear friend Melissa Cunningham comes to mind. I admire her greatly. I tend to take life to seriously sometimes and need to remember to enjoy and savor the precious moments more.
Where do you see yourself 10 years from now? Future goals?
I see myself doing the same thing I am now. Right now, I am enjoying having a fun job and great work team. I gave up working for most of my life as a “mom,” so I am truly enjoying this empty-nest hood, career and role reversal with my husband. It is fabulous to have a full satisfying day at work and come up to a husband cooking dinner in the kitchen! My future goals include that, but having a good balance of work-life. I do not want to be a slave to my job – I like keeping it on average to 30-40 hours a week, even if during the busy times it can creep up o 50-60 hours a week. We would love to have a second home in Sandpoint in a few years so we can stay longer to enjoy the ski slopes in the winter and our sailboat in the summers.
What is one thing you have to do every day?
Thank God for all that he has given me. I am incredibly blessed with so much and when I am stressed or having a bad day, I have to remind myself of all for which I am thankful. It keeps me on track. I love listening to my fave Christian music in the mornings on my way to work so it can lift me up as I start my day.
What is, hands down, your favorite food or meal?
Ice cream. Hands down. And I do not like fruit in my ice cream. If I am going for unhealthy, I want to go big! I like my ice cream with nuts, chocolate or caramel. I have been known to try to peer pressure our office staff into “needing” ice cream with me so I don’t have to eat alone!
Any hidden talents, or fun trivia facts about you?
Don’t think so – I am a horse person! We have four horses at our house right now and I love seeing them running, from the kitchen window. My parents were not big animal people and I always was. So right now we have horses, cats and dogs. Love the hearts of our animal friends! So cathartic to brush out a horse in spring or to fall on the floor wrestling with the dog.
Our daughter, Jacqueline, is the sixth Hamby to attend the Air Force Academy, and is the third generation to be in the same squadron. That is pretty unique!
Describe your perfect day.
My perfect “everyday” day would be on a Wednesday. I love starting my day with sunshine and coffee. I love Wednesdays because those are our office meeting days. Realtors rarely spend 40 hours a week in the office. We are usually all out and about at all times of days. But on Wednesday mornings, our office staff makes extra coffee and we join in together to celebrate and support each other. Our fearless leader starts us off with a moment of silence where we pray for all our co-workers and their requests of prayer for others. The power of that prayer is amazing! And then we learn how to be better at all that we do. After that a little work with an early afternoon so I can have a glass of wine and do a puzzle or read a book on the porch swing my husband made for me. I swing looking over the back five acres and scan for a deer or on a rare day I get to see a moose! Then a delicious dinner that I did not have to cook, followed with a fire in the fire-pit, and talking to my husband about our days. A couple scoops of ice cream and a glorious sunset would top it off! Otherwise, a perfect down day would be sipping a margarita on the boat, on a beach, or in the water of Lake Pend Oreille.
What are some local organizations whose causes you support, either by attending an event for them, or you are just a fan of their cause?
Clearly, the Spokane Lilac Festival! I went to an HRC ministries event for Trafficking. Trafficking is something I follow and pray about regularly. I can’t imagine a life of slavery and wish we could do more to stop the evil that funds it.
Spark Central does amazing things with our children – encouraging and making computer games or starting a girl's band. Love the courage and outlets it gives our youth! Love all the West Central youth initiatives and try to support these with our office! Honor Point Military and Aerospace Museum and Inland NW Honor Flight. We also have a daughter we sponsor in Africa and I love to see all that groups like World Vision and Compassion International, and our church at Life Center, do to help the poor of our world.
What is the best advice you have been given?
“If you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all.” I think we all need this reminder from time to time as it is easy to get caught up in the politics of bashing others that do not agree with us. It is those basic lessons from kindergarten that I wish the rest of the world would remember.
For what are you most grateful?
My husband. We are celebrating 25 years together this year and I am most grateful for his support over the years – we are a great team! My mom’s youngest sister died the year I married my husband and she was my favorite aunt. I know she had a part in bringing Brad into my life so that I would have someone to lean on right after her tragic death from brain cancer at the age of 40.
What is your favorite place you have travelled to?
My favorite trip ever was with the “ya-yas” on an epic trip to Australia! The “ya-yas” are six of my favorite fellow military wives from our first flying assignment in Grand Forks, ND. We have gotten together every year for a girls trip since 2000, and it is what I look forward to most. Australia was about 10 years ago and had wine tasting, hot air balloon rides and ice cream waffles for breakfast! We laughed so hard we cried – several times!
What is your dream vacation?
A big Rodriguez family trip! My brother and sister, their families and my parents. Love to get us all together with my family. We do this every couple years – sometimes to a destination like Park City to ski, or last year it was here in Spokane to celebrate my father’s 70th birthday, but a dream vacation is always more fun when celebrating it with those you love most! The location doesn’t matter nearly as much as having us all together.