“I’m very thankful for the community and now I want to give back.” – Son Huynh
Son Huynh may seem like just another realtor, but that’s far from the truth. Not only is his journey inspiring, his passion and mission for helping others is enough for everyone to question if they are doing all they can to help others. Son is a board member here at the Community Foundation of Greater Fort Wayne and volunteers for several other local Fort Wayne organizations. He is committed to giving back to the community and wants to make this a truly better place.
Recently, while listening to a podcast, Son heard about a book called 100 Things by Sebastian Terry. In it, the author lists “100 Things” he wants to accomplish before he dies. Since writing the book 7 years ago, Sebastian has been able to complete nearly 75% of his “things” and continues to check them off. Closer to home, he inspired Son to start thinking about his own “100 Things” and what it might take to achieve them.
As you can imagine, the process of coming up with 100 life events can be life changing in and of itself. Son’s list includes running a marathon, attending the World Cup, and traveling to Australia to name just a few. However, one of the most interesting things on Son’s list involves his work as a realtor: to list and sell a $1 million home and then donate his commission to a charity in Allen County. More on that in a minute.
Son’s story doesn’t start here with a list of altruistic endeavors and world-travels. It starts in South Vietnam, where he was born and raised until he turned 17 when he moved to the United States with his Mom, Dad, and three siblings. When Son and his family came to the United States in November of 1991 they had nothing. In fact, they didn’t know any English, already had debt, and didn’t have a place to sleep. Son recalls stepping off of the plane into the cold November air and seeing snow everywhere. Since South Vietnam is a very warm climate, they didn’t have winter coats with them. Thankfully, representatives from Catholic Charities and a group of Vietnamese people that were living in Fort Wayne greeted them at the airport with warm winter coats. As the sponsor for the Huynh family, Catholic Charities also connected them with a Vietnamese family that gave them a place to sleep for almost two weeks until they got their own apartment. Catholic Charities really helped connect them to the community once they arrived in Fort Wayne.
When Son talks about this time in his life, he’s amazed by the bravery of his parents and their willingness to pick up and move to another country where they had to borrow money for the plane tickets. With no family or friends in the United States, they came to a new country to give their family a better life. “People in the community, they help. Because when we came here, we didn’t know what to do. We didn’t have anything. We didn’t have a place to live and we were very poor back home. We actually had to borrow money for the airplane tickets to get here. So we came here with debt. But the community helped us and welcomed us.”
Son went to high school shortly after he arrived in Fort Wayne and attended South Side High School for two years. He earned his bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering from IPFW – now Purdue Fort Wayne – and went on to pursue a career in mechanical engineering. After 5 years with GE Motors, Son went to work for Trelleborg Sealing Solutions for another 5 years. However, it was during his time volunteering as a translator for Vietnamese families trying to buy a home that he found his passion for real estate and eventually switched career paths.
In 2006, Son ventured out to start his new career in real estate and has been with it ever since. When he started, there were no Vietnamese real estate agents and he saw that need and wanted to help families and became the first Vietnamese Real Estate Agent in Fort Wayne.
Real Estate made sense for Son because he has an entrepreneurial spirit but was also tired of traveling and leaving his family for extended periods of time. It was hard to make it to his two boys’ games and after school activities before he became a real estate agent. Now he schedules his work around his family. He loves the flexibility of his job and being able to help walk people through one of the biggest purchases of their lives. Son is thankful for the success he has had in his career as a realtor, as it has enabled him to live his life to the fullest and dream up inspirational, fun ways to give back to our community – like donating the commission from the sale of a $1 million home to charity.
For Son this isn’t a “one and done” act of generosity, he plans to do this annually and to a different charity each year. These can be homes in Allen county and surrounding areas. For the first gift, Son has partnered with local nonprofit Turnstone in Fort Wayne. Turnstone is an amazing organization that provides unique services for people with disabilities and their families. They dedicate themselves to providing safe and nurturing places for those with disabilities to feel accepted and to help them develop skills most of us take for granted. When asked why he has chosen Turnstone as the inaugural recipient, he said, “I want to support Turnstone because they provide an environment for people with disabilities to better themselves and excel with their talents. Because everyone has talents, even people with disabilities. They also provide an environment that helps them to feel accepted and like they belong.”
Son wants to inspire others through his example and show that you don’t have to be rich to give. You can give by using your talents, your time and even your professional expertise – in this case his work as a realtor. It’s because of people from Catholic Charities and the work being done by the Community Foundation of Greater Fort Wayne and many other organizations that Son has the desire to show his appreciation through giving back to his community. Everyone at the Foundation is proud to have Son on the board of directors and seeing firsthand his passion and giving back. We can’t wait to see what all he will do for this community and the impact he will make!
If you know someone with a home or have a home around the value of $1 Million or more and are thinking of selling, contact Son and find out how you can help today!
27 years later, Son and his family have come to enjoy the changing seasons and appreciate the community that warmly embraced him and his family when they first arrived here. They enjoy the proximity of Fort Wayne to places like Chicago, IL or the Michigan sand dunes where they can take a day trip to explore. The Huynh family loves to spend their time together traveling, attending festivals, and volunteering at the Allen County Fair. One of Son’s favorite hobbies is to ride his bike because it’s slow. Life is very fast and instant, but Son likes to slow down and enjoy life and his surroundings. Son likes to stay active and golf or kayak. To no one’s surprise, he has completed the Century Bike Ride where he biked 100 miles, for fun. Check that one off the list!