Community November 6, 2020

Getting Involved

Getting Involved

How to get started and where to volunteer?

 

Feeling part of the greater community is a breath of fresh air, not only for those you are helping, but for you as the volunteer as well. It’s scientifically proven that giving provides more endorphins than receiving. So it’s a true win-win for everyone when you volunteer for something you’re passionate about.

Volunteering can feel intimidating for some and it can be difficult to know who needs help and what you can do. We all have our own unique skills and interests so the best place to start is accessing what you feel a pull towards, a passion, or something relative to your life then focus on those types of organizations and volunteer needs.

If your heart is in the right place to start with then the efforts and hours you’re giving won’t feel like work at all!

Follow your instincts and determine what you have a passion or interest in.

There are volunteer needs for just about everything you can think of!

Think about your skills – Are you Handy? Creative? Outdoorsy? People-oriented? Organized? Social Media gifted? A Writer? Strong? Full of Energy? Patient? A good Listener? These are all great skills different organizations could benefit from.

 

Below is a list of Local Organizations in Santa Cruz I created – most of which I have personally worked with – to help get your volunteer-juices flowing.

 

MBOSC – Mountain Bikers of Santa Cruz – MBOSC.org

For the Trail-users and outdoorsy types

Are you a hiker, biker, horseback rider or trail jogger in Santa Cruz? If so, you’d undoubtedly enjoyed the incredible trail system that Santa Cruz County has to offer. Our community is unique to have such an expansive array of mixed-us trail options from the cliffs to the mountain peaks all around us. MBOSC was founded in 1997 to support, preserve, and expand sustainable trail access in the Santa Cruz area and beyond. With educational seminars, trail work opportunities, DIG days (these days are a lot of work, but are really fun too!), mountain biking races and more, this organization is an excellent opportunity to support a local nonprofit and truly give back to the community.

 

Santa Cruz SPCA – SPCASC.ORG & Santa Cruz County Animal Shelter – SCANIMALSHELTER.ORG

For the Animal-Lovers, Organized and People-Oriented types

Every community has it’s set of animal shelters & it’s share of animal lovers too! These two organizations are unbelievably hardworking, passionate and full of wonderful ways to give back to our furry friends. These organizations both have volunteer needs ranging from office work, photography, adoptions, fostering, vet services, youth programs, events, community outreach, teen programs, animal care and beyond.

The Santa Cruz SPCA is a locally ran non-profit dedicated to the welfare of animals in the community. They receive no government funding and depend solely on the community to remain in operation. I personally volunteer as a photographer and foster here and support this organization whole-heartedly. The SPCA mainly fills the need as an overflow animal shelter for our community and others. With their much-needed brand new shelter nearly finished, their needs will soon dramatically expand if you are looking to volunteer!

The Santa Cruz County Animal Shelter has an open-door program and is the main animal focused resource for the entire County. From drop-offs, adoptions, licensing, disaster pet care, low cost vet services, pet food pantry, community outreach, humane education, complaints and reports of abuse/neglect, wildlife issues plus more! With no animal ever being turned away and so many responsibilities, this shelter is highly effective and can always use an extra set of hands.

 

Save Our Shores – SAVEOURSHORES.ORG

For the Beachcombers, outdoorsy, ocean-saving types

Save Our Shores is a dedicated organization focused on advocating, supporting and keeping our coastline healthy and clean.

“From policy change to educational programs, we’re ensuring ocean conservation throughout the community. Our programs and projects are designed to support the foundations of a thriving Monterey Bay: clean shores, healthy habitats, and living waters.”

Save Our Shores offers beach day cleanups, educational seminars and other local events. If you love the Monterey Bay, spend a day or two out on the beach helping their efforts – this a low commitment volunteering gig, great for all ages!

 

Habitat for Humanity Monterey Bay – HABITATMONTEREYBAY.COM

For the Handy & Project-oriented types

“Habitat for Humanity Monterey Bay is an independent locally operated and funded affiliate of Habitat for Humanity International. Our mission is to build decent, affordable homes and provide home ownership opportunities to qualified families who live and work in Santa Cruz and Monterey Counties.”

This organization is dedicated to helping hard-working homeowners in need of home repair assistance in a variety of ways, keeping people in their homes and helping new families create a home out of a home in disrepair. As a volunteer you could assist with construction projects, help at their store or with office work, or get involved with their community events!

 

Santa Cruz Volunteer Center – SCVOLUNTEERCENTER.ORG

For the Community-minded, Patient, People-Oriented & Organized types – there’s something for everyone here!

The Santa Cruz Volunteer Center is a place where Nonprofits in the entire county can ask for volunteer help for just about anything! Ranging from the recent fire evacuation centers to holiday help, and from food delivery to helping seniors, the tasks listed are based on needs in the community at any given time. This is a great place to start if you’re looking for an easy way to try out a new volunteer role or organization.

 

Enjoy getting involved and giving back!

Jacqueline Van Metre
REALTOR, GREEN
DRE 02015151
CommunityHomeReal Estate November 4, 2020

Winterize Your Home

Winterize Your Home ~ Your Fall Checklist

 

The sun is setting earlier, the mornings are getting cooler, the leaves are starting to change color & there’s festive decorations going up everywhere! It’s beginning to look and feel a lot like fall to me. As the shift sets in and our days fill with holiday shopping and family-gathering decisions it’s easy to forget to tend to your home’s needs before the winter rain sets in. To help with this process I’ve listed some of the top things to do to help prep your home for winter.

 

Your Fall Checklist:

 

  • Clean out your gutters to prevent flooding, backups and overflowing.

 

  • Also, clean areas around your downspouts so they are clear of debris.

 

  • Remember to change your air filters to maximize your heat output and minimize your heating bill!

 

  • Check around your doors and windows for any air gaps that need to be sealed up with new weather-stripping if needed.

 

  • Be sure to clean out your dryer vent, the one outside your house often gets missed and can become a major fire hazard with lint that builds up.

 

  • Cover or bring in your outdoor furniture/cushions to help preserve them.

 

  • Turn off your sprinkler systems for the season once the rain starts.

 

  • Scrape any moss or excess vegetation off your roof to avoid buildup.

 

  • Protect wood siding, trim, doors, fences, decks, fascia, etc… with paint, sealer, stain or varnish. Now is a great time for touch-ups.

 

  • Seal up any cracks or holes around your home to keep critters and water out!

 

  • And don’t forget to decorate for the holidays this year – we could all use some extra cheer around town this year!

 

Did I miss any good tips you’ve picked up over the years?

 

Good luck with your projects!

Jacqueline Van Metre
REALTOR, GREEN
DRE 02015151
BlogCurrent EventsHome September 21, 2020

Power Shutoff Preparation

Be honest, how prepared are you for power shutoffs this year?

 

The heat is rising with no rain in sight for months. Here we go again California.

Wildfire season is already tragically in full swing this year, with more to come without a doubt. With rising daily temperatures, high winds, lightning, human-caused sparks – our gorgeous golden state sits helpless against wildfires. In preparation for this season’s impending PG&E power shutoffs to combat these disasters, how can you best prepare your household? There are small things you can do today to make these power-less days a whole lot more comfortable and less stressful.

Tips to make 2020 power shutoffs slightly more tolerable!

 

 

 

First and foremost, we need some light! Spend a short time today finding your candles, flashlights, lighters and batteries so they are handy when you need them. Also, check your camping gear for useful items like lanterns and headlamps – these were great finds for my family last year.

2. FOOD STORAGE

To help keep your perishables cold plan ahead and make some ice blocks now. I have about 4 ready myself. I save a few plastic bottles (milk containers, Costco avocado oil bottle, etc…) fill almost to the top with water – to allow for expansion – and keep them in my freezer. When the time comes, I’ll be able to pop 2 or 3 ice blocks over to my refrigerator to keep everything cold. So simple and believe me it works!

3. GADGETS

Make sure you don’t go without your gadgets when the power is out for a few hours or a couple of days. You’ll want to be able to work and have some entertainment after all! We have some freshly charged up external power banks and cords readily available so we can charge up when needed. Usually we have these for travel, but they turned out to be a great inexpensive investment for these power shutoffs too.

4. COOKING

If you have a gas cook-top you’re in luck, you will be able to heat leftovers and cook food as usual. If you an electric cooktop, do you have a BBQ to use or a camping stove? Get creative here and make sure you have some fuel on hand. Plan for some meals now so you’re not scrambling for ideas when everyone is starving! And do make sure you have a long lighter to light the burners.

Check out PG&E’s website for Outage Notifications & more information:

https://www.pge.com/en_US/residential/outages/alerts/alerts.page

Tips from PG&E

Learn about preparation and response

 

We’re committed to delivering safe and reliable power to each of our customers every day. We constantly work to safeguard our electric system to minimize the risk of service interruptions. During the winter storm season, when outages may occur, our crews and emergency response teams do everything they can to keep the lights on. When storms result in interruption to your service, we do our best to restore service as quickly and safely as possible.

Staying prepared for power outages

 

You can take steps to minimize the safety risks and inconvenience caused by a power outage:

  • Keep important phone numbers, such as numbers of hospitals, fire departments, police, friends and relatives in a convenient location in case you need emergency help or other assistance.

  • Have a backup plan to maintain any life support equipment.

  • Keep a cellphone or hardwired, single-line telephone on hand. Cordless phones don’t work without electricity.

  • Keep a flashlight with extra, fresh batteries in a convenient place. Avoid using candles because of the fire risk. If you must light candles, use extreme caution.

  • Turn off heat-producing appliances such as ovens, stovetops and irons during an outage. This practice helps eliminate fire hazards that can occur when power is restored.

  • Protect sensitive electronic equipment such as televisions and computers with surge suppressors. Unplug any such equipment that is in use when the power goes out.

  • Ensure that food stays cold by keeping your refrigerator and freezer doors closed. You can keep the refrigerator cold by placing ice in plastic containers inside it. A full freezer stays colder, longer.

  • Keep nonperishable food that doesn’t require cooking on hand. Ensure that you have a manual can opener.

  • Inform us if you have a generator, and avoid using it unless you’re sure that it was installed safely and correctly. An incorrectly installed generator can damage your property. It can endanger you, and potentially harm our line workers who may be working on nearby power lines. Read about the safe installation of generators. Visit Electric Generator Safety.

Let me know if you have any additional tips to share!

Jacqueline Van Metre
REALTOR, GREEN
DRE 0205151
BlogCurrent EventsReal Estate April 18, 2020

COVID-19 & Santa Cruz

Santa Cruz & SIP

Santa Cruz County has been through a lot since the Shelter-in-Place order dropped in March 2020. From everything non-essential being closed to our current stage, which includes much of normal life to be back – with slight adjustments. Outdoor dining, hair saloons, outdoor gyms, shops, grocery stores, beaches and trails are almost all entirely open to the public.

Plan ahead. Every business is different so it helps to plan before you play – tips include: make a reservation, have a backup plan and plan on waiting in a line if there is limited capacity at a particular business. Plan to bring your mask for use around others or doing anything inside, have your temperature checked and continue to sanitize your hands at most establishments.

Real Estate: How it’s done

Homes are still being purchased and sold during this time. Luckily, much of a modern day real estate transaction is virtually possible for a tech-savvy Realtor such as myself.

However, business looks does look slightly different.

There are no open houses allowed during this time. Private showings are possible by appointment only to a maximum of 2 persons from the same household at a time. Virtual tours, reviewing reports and disclosures available and pre-approval status are strongly encouraged and often required before any in-person showings. New forms for both buyers and sellers to sign are also required before any showings. Additionally, 3rd parties  (contractors, photographers, home inspectors, etc…) are allowed to perform to provide their services during this time.

If you have any questions about how this works, please contact me.

We are all in this together and we will get through this together.

Jacqueline Van Metre
Realtor, GREEN
DRE 02015151
BlogHomeReal Estate February 12, 2020

Demystify Your Credit Score

6 Things That Impact Your Credit Score & How To Take Control Once & For All

 

Are you considering purchasing a home in the near future?

Have you given much thought to your credit score lately?

Most of us really don’t think about it until we need it, so you’re not alone if you answered “No.”

I found that many of my buyers forget or haven’t been taught how important this number rating matters to your lending qualifications and ultimately your monthly mortgage payments.

This can seriously make or break your home buying power.

I was checking out my credit score update recently through the service CreditWise provided through my Capital One Venture Card – not an advertisement – and I wanted to share the tips they have and demystify how your credit score is calculated for all the prospective and current buyers out there.

The Breakdown – 6 Things That Impact Your Credit

 

1. ON-TIME PAYMENTS

Your history of making on-time payments indicates to lenders whether you’ll make payments on-time in the future. CreditWise rates on a percentage % scale to let you know where you’re at. The goal here is 100% to show you pay your bills on time.

2. OLDEST CREDIT LINE

To lenders, the age of your oldest account indicates how much experience you have handling credit. The longer you’ve had an open line of credit with the same creditor the better. So it may be wise to leave your oldest account open while preparing to purchase a home, even if you don’t use it.

3. CREDIT USED

Lenders are looking for signs of responsible credit usage, and the less you use, the better it is for your score. Again, CreditWise rates you on a percentage % scale. The lower your number the better, which means you have a lot of credit available to you to use. Let’s say your number is 20%, this would mean you are currently using that percentage of your total available credit.

4. RECENT INQUIRES

With some exceptions, lenders tend to interpret too many recent inquires as a sign of risk, so the fewer the better. The rule here is to keep your credit inquires to a minimum. Examples of an inquire: new credit card applications and mortgage pre-approvals.

5. NEW ACCOUNTS

Lenders see opening too many new accounts in a short window of time as an indication of credit problems. This one is pretty straight forward; you’ll want to avoid having opened many new accounts within the past 2 years.

6. AVAILABLE CREDIT

Plenty of available credit (relative to amount owed) indicates to lenders that you manage credit responsibly, the higher this number, the better. They look at all the available credit you have across all your accounts. In the example I used above, if you are using 20% of your credit, that means you have 80% available credit to you.

Knowledge is power right? And with this knowledge you can now take your credit score into your own hands and make lasting changes to your habits and your score. My advice is to understand where you stand now and start to make improvements where you can immediately.

Cheers to better credit!

Jacqueline Van Metre
REALTOR, GREEN
DRE 02015151

*Capital One, “What Impacts Your Credit,” accessed January 14, 2019, https://creditwise.capitalone.com

BlogFamilyGreen LivingHome December 13, 2019

Green Gift Giving

Your Green Gift Giving Guide

The season of gifts and festive gatherings are upon us. The days grow colder and shorter and so begins our holiday gift search for friends, family, colleagues and clients. If you’re like me, you’ve been working on phasing as much plastic out of your day-to-day as reasonably possible – it’s not an easy feat! This year I have discussed eco-friendly and more sustainable gift ideas with friends and family several times as it seems to be a hot topic and came up with a few to share here.

These bags are made of silicon, which is safer for both humans and earth alike. I like them because they’re colorful, easy to clean and extremely easy to use instead of plastic sandwich bags. I use them for snacks to-go and in the freezer. Find them at stores around town and Stasherbags.com

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PRODUCE BAGS

No more plastic bags needed at the grocery store! Bag your produce in these reusable bags made from cotton or mesh usually. I keep mine with my reusable grocery bags in the car so I always have them when I need them. They’re machine washable too.

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TRAVEL STRAWS & UTENSILS

How many lunches or snacks out have you needed silverware for and felt terrible about the single use fork you needed to use? That was me too. Until I found this sweet bamboo silverware set called To-Go Ware in a recycled bag to store them! Fork, spoon, knife and chopsticks included. I added a stainless steel straw to my set too. I keep this in my purse and just wash the set when I get home – so simple! I found sets at New Leaf, Staff of Life and the Patagonia Outlet.

STAINLESS STEEL WATER BOTTLES

I seriously thought this one had caught on, but I still see friends and family using and buying plastic water bottles all the time. This is such an easy fix too – there are masculine and super feminine stainless steel water bottles pretty much everywhere nowadays as well as handy fill stations. Be kind the the planet and remember your water bottle everyday.

 

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MASON JARS

I must admit, I’m obsessed with mason jar food storage so I created my very own wall this year! I fill these as they empty at the bulk food bins found at most grocery stores around town. Many stores allow you to weigh your jar when you come in the store then just fill and weigh it after, they deduct the original weight – so easy!

 

 

 

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RECYCLED FABRICS & MATERIALS

Look for these up-and-coming products! Patagonia has a whole line of products made from all recycled materials that I’m in love with. These are their Recycled Black Hole Bags made mostly from plastic water bottles which were bound for landfills. I also found some fantastic “athleisure” pants at Athleta this year which were made from nearly all recycled materials!

LOCALLY MADE

They support our local community and businesses and also didn’t produce extra carbon emissions by traveling from the other side of the world to get to you, pretty cool.

RECYCLED or BIODEGRADABLE WRAPPING PAPER

Save your ribbons, boxes, bows and holiday bags each year and reuse them over and over again – I’ve been doing it for years and it really cuts down on how much we toss out each year. This year I’m swapping to recycled wrapping paper and paper that can be recycled or is biodegradable as well, such as butcher kraft paper found at craft stores and Ace Hardware.

Happy Green Gift Giving!

Jacqueline Van Metre
REALTOR, GREEN
DRE 02015151
BlogReal Estate June 21, 2019

Standing Out & Selling Fast

Make Your Home Stand Out & Sell Fast

 

Why do some homes sell and others do not?

Through my experience I have found that most Buyers lack the ability to visualize how a home could look its very best. They just can’t picture how their furniture could be arranged in each room and how the yard will look with a bit of landscaping and beautiful flowers. I understand that you probably don’t sell your home very often and know what it takes to stand out over your competition. I also couldn’t expect you to know what’s truly necessary to sell your home in this market.

That’s where I stand out.

I help you prepare your home for sale. I act as a coordinator, advisor and as your feet on the ground. My team will come to your home with fresh eyes and professional insight based on your neighborhood, price point & target market to access what improvements or changes will best improve your home’s ability to capture the greatest pool of Buyers – which ultimately means a higher sale price in a faster time period. Once we have our plan, our selected contractors begin work while continuing to oversee each project and stick to our timeline.

Let’s get to work!

Jacqueline Van Metre
REALTOR, GREEN
DRE 02015151