about kirby sommers

The first time Kirby Sommers saw her name in print was at 17. She diligently researched and wrote a 2-part cover story about Santerismo for a well-known New York magazine. Santerismo is an Afro-Cuban religion with roots from the Yoruba people of West Africa, Nigeria. A deep subject for a young girl with no formal research experience.

The publisher, having come across a photo of the young Sommers clad in a tiny string bikini, invited her to his office to discuss a photo shoot. Kirby convinced him the magazine would best benefit by having her write the story idea she pitched instead of plastering a picture of another pretty girl onto their pages.

He agreed with one caveat: if the story was unfit to print, she would do the photo shoot instead. The 17 year old's article didn't even need to be edited. Sommers expose (the first of its kind in those days) became a 2-part cover story boosting sales of the magazine and giving Kirby her first national byline. N
o bikini clad photos of Sommers were ever taken.

Even as a young girl, Kirby Sommers was a person of substance. One who concentrated more on issues than her looks. "I've never relied on my looks to get ahead. That reduces a woman to nothing. Women can get ahead on their own merits, otherwise one's life is meaningless."

Sommers' probono work on behalf of Hurricane Katrina survivors during 2005-2009 is a case in point when it comes to having purpose in one's life. A
New York Times article about Kirby's Katrina Home Drive, (a vehicle she created to connect survivors to homes and resources across the country) barely skims the surface of Sommers tenacity and perseverance.

 

 


KATRINA HOME DRIVE
HURRICANE KATRINA: WHERE'S THE MONEY?

During this period, Kirby became an outspoken activisit and advocate on behalf of Hurricane Katrina survivors. Mainstream news media accounts of monies donated to help victims of the deadly storm clashed with the reality Kirby heard on a daily basis from those displaced and who found themselves destitute throughout all 50 states.

Sommers contacted the American Red Cross in Washington, DC to find out more about a program meant to help survivors, but which, in fact, almost never existed to being a hush-hush Red Cross project. Jeanne Ellinport, a spokesperson for the Red Cross told Sommers there was going to be "no outreach to survivors."

Kirby went into research mode and tracked down?Art Agnos ,?who had been the?mayor of San Francisco during the Loma Prieta earthquake?of '89. Agnos confirmed what Sommers already knew: Red Cross runs off with the money.?He disclosed they had done the very same thing with money raised after the quake.

A furious Agnos treatened to expose their tactics to donors?when?the Red Cross?was about to take off with money?he believed belonged to?his city.?The American Red Cross was forced to back down and Agnos was able to properly allocate the funds. He suggested Sommers go public with the story.

Kirby contated The New York Times who then ran a story about?the 'Means to Recovery' program. In Sommers opinion, they did a lousy job. She?asked Shaila Dewan, one of?the two journalists who wrote the story (Stephanie Strom , national correspondent with the NYT since 2002 being the other)?not to include her name in the piece. "They glossed over the entire problem and instead of exposing?the Red Cross' deceptive ways gave them an out."?Sommers added:?"For example, the $39 million dollars mentioned was in actually twice the amount with the other half?going to salaried employees of the Red Cross. Why not disclose that too?"?

Although the article helped put an end to public?statements made by the Red Cross's?that 'Means to Recovery' didn't exist, but was only a rumor -?in Sommers opinion it failed to expose them for their systematic?habit of not using?donations for?the?disasters in whose name the money?is raised.?"The article never even?hinted about possible misappropriation of funds,"?Kirby exclaimes.?One of the?primary concerns?Sommers shared with Dewan during the multiple interviews?she gave while the NYT?journalists worked on the story.

"What?the?NYT?did," Kirby reveals, "was to make a call to?Red Cross headquarters in Washington and got a statement. That's not investigative reporting."


LANDLORD LINKS
RENTING IN MANHATTAN: NO FEE

An advocate for anyone who is under-represented Kirby is always finding new ways to help people. While immersed in what she calls her "Katrina years," she realized no one was helping renters in her own backyard: Manhattan.

Sommers created Landlord Links -- interactive e-guides connecting users to available apartment rental listings directly from the owners. Landlord Links were a huge hit from the very beginning since?they allowed renters to bypass brokers and save on?exhorbitant broker fees.

Through i-Dweller.com,?additional rental services followed, such as?Aptstar Handholding Service, Landlord & Apartment Background Checks, and consultations for renters needing additional guidance.?

To date, apartment renters from over 86 countries, including people relocating to Manhattan from everywhere USA, and her neighbors in New York City have saved just shy of $1 billion in broker fees by using Landlord Links.

WRITING WITH PURPOSE

Kirby Sommers continues to write. She has penned over 100 articles, written over a dozen books,?with a new one expected to be released in the fall of 2011. A portion of the proceeds of all her endeavors go to help sexually abused women and children.

Sommers today is still very much like the spunky 17 year old who instinctively knew?that life is made up of more than what's on the surface.


Here are some real estate books written by Kirby Sommers to help renters in the city

 

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RentersSurvivalGuide2011_12.jpg? GuerrillaGuide2.jpg