Realtor® Dracheka ‘Buffy’ Barrott: A Champion for the Underprivileged
EDGEWOOD, Fla. – Fifteen years ago, when her mom founded Operation Love Ministries at a church she and the family attended, it was purely “a street ministry,” says Dracheka “Buffy” Barrott, broker of Residential Matchmakers LLC in Edgewood. “My mom went out where she saw a need, delivering meals to the elderly and that sort of thing.”
Then Barrott got involved. “We were able to get additional food and toiletries. Then, we branched off and did school drives,” she says. All the while needs continued to grow.
She says, “We went out to the people, such as the homeless, praying with them, feeding them, and giving them blankets. Whatever the need called for, that’s what we tried to do.”
Today, Operation Love Ministries is a subsidiary under One Accord Outreach, a group associated with Barrott’s church that helps the elderly and underprivileged through Edgewood and other Central Florida areas. It’s expanded to helping people internationally as well.
“I’m in charge of backend operations now, but I still go out and help the people,” she says. “My husband is from the Virgin Islands, so we send barrels of food items and toiletries to people in Jamaica.” Prior to that, there was an outreach of food and other goods sent to St. Thomas after several hurricanes rocked the area. But Operation Love Ministries’ main focus remains on the local community, she says.
Barrott started in real estate 12 years ago after getting laid off from corporate America. “I wanted to find something that would allow me to help somebody else,” she says. Coming from a family of community servants, she felt real estate was the perfect career to complement and continue her community ministry.
The COVID-19 pandemic put a wrench in some of their outreach efforts, but Barrott says that they adjusted. “At first, we weren’t sure what we could and couldn’t do,” she says. “We figured, we could put together boxes of food and set up pick-up points so there would be no physical interaction.”
She and other volunteers put together the food boxes and leave them at different pick-up locations around Fort Meade. Barrott explains, “We know it’s helping because the boxes are gone. We stick them in different locations, and, through word of mouth, people learn about it and pick them up.”
The people they help aren’t necessarily homeless. “It’s mostly underprivileged,” she says. “The great thing about my hometown is that we tend to take care of each other. If we see someone in need, they’re going to be fed.”
At the church, Operation Love Ministries has set up a pantry, which includes donated food, clothing, and essentials. Along with the food boxes being dropped off in Fort Meade, the ministries will have food and clothing drives for specific events.
“People in the church will bring up an event that is happening, and everyone in the church feeds that cause,” she says. “So, when we did the Jamaica outreach, we collected peanut butter, jelly, and bread because that’s what they said they needed.”
Barrott also gives to an organization called One Heart for Women and Children. She says, “I like One Heart for Women and Children because you get to talk to people, see where they are. It’s not so much of me helping them. I think it’s more that they’re helping me.”
Barrott also encourages her agents to get involved in the community. “We are trying to ramp up doing something on a consistent basis [at the brokerage.] It could be home aid or Habitat for Humanity. My partner, Ronice Jackson, and I are definitely working on that,” she says.
“Giving runs in my family,” Barrott says. “My aunt, grandmother, and mom – that’s all I've ever seen them do. That’s what I do. I help people. So, even in my business, that's what I teach. You need to know how a person is in their heart and head before you start trying to govern their business. How can you help them on a personal level to help them go out in the world and be a better businessperson? How can you help someone in need be more self-sufficient, or give them that extra push? That’s just how I grew up. We’re meant to help each other.”
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