English Transplant Devoted to Dogs, South Seattle Community

English Transplant Devoted to Dogs, South Seattle Community

By Amber Campbell

Longtime South Seattle neighbor and realtor Serena Heslop has witnessed first-hand the area’s growth and change over the last 20 years.

Originally from the south of England and the daughter of a single mum who cooked for the British aristocracy, Serena first found her way to Columbia City and now calls Mount Baker home. She’s been involved in all sorts of community building events in her adopted community, including the very first Columbia City BeatWalk back in 1995.

“Over the years, I’ve witnessed first-hand an incredible transformation of the area,” she says, “thanks to a community of caring, engaged and enthusiastic neighbors, a growing business district and fun cultural events like the Rainier Valley Heritage Parade, Columbia City Farmers Market, Beatwalk music festival and much more.”

Serena is also well regarded in her field — voted Best Realtor in South Seattle not once but twice, won Best in Client Satisfaction by Seattle Magazine 10 years running and was awarded the Five Star Professional Realtor designation.

She’s also participated in neighborhood clean-ups, supported many local organizations, volunteered with Project Cool to give homeless kids new backpacks with school supplies, collected food for the Rainier Valley Food Bank and recently volunteered with Wellspring Family Services where her company — Windermere Mount Baker — spent the day giving back to one of South Seattle’s most vital organizations.

When asked what motivates her to do this work, Serena responds simply, “I love this neighborhood.”

She is also a devoted animal lover who supports both the Feral Cat Spay & Neuter Clinic, the Prison Pet Partnership Program, Pigs Peace, Pasado’s Safe Haven and many more organizations. And while she spends most of her time contributing here at home, she also works with transnational organizations like Baja Dogs La Paz in Mexico, helping to rescue street dogs who might otherwise starve to death. Within the past six years she and her partner Jacki have brought 12 abandoned street dogs back to the states and nursed them back to health before finding homes for the recovering pups.

“It’s so easy to do,” she says. “And it’s so hard to see animals starving. We can’t ignore it. Just saw a need and felt like we could make a difference.”

This week, she was kind enough to take the time to answer a few questions for our People in Your Neighborhood column — a series of interviews with some of South Seattle’s most interesting and engaging people.

Serena-dogs-Mexico

Serena & her partner have brought 12 abandoned street dogs back to the states and nursed them back to health.

Name:
Serena Heslop

Age:
59

Neighborhood:
Mount Baker

How long in South Seattle?
25 years

Where from originally?
United Kingdom

Day job/night job:
Realtor with Windermere Mount Baker

What do you like most about your day job?
Getting to meet new people, making new friends and helping folks find a good place to live.

What gets you out of bed in the morning?
Well, I wish I could say my love of life, but I am really not a morning person, so what gets me out from under the covers is my rescued Mexican dog who jumps on the bed around 7.30 and howls in my face!

Tell us about your work in the community.
Well I was one of the original folks who started the Columbia City Beatwalk, as a Windermere agent I have done neighborhood clean-ups, given money to many local organizations, volunteered with Project Cool to give homeless kids new backpacks with school supplies, collected food for the Rainier Valley Food Bank, and worked on local political campaigns. I am now on the board of the South East Senior Center. I also give a percentage of my commission away every year to many local organizations, especially non-profits working with the homeless and low income folks.

What motivates you to do this work?
I love this neighborhood.

What are you passionate about?
Dogs, Yoga & Meditation, Politics, Swimming.

What are your hobbies?
Ceramics, I do a class at Seward park art studio, Bollywood dancing at El Centro, Scuba Diving.

Tell us about your family:
My family is of choice really not of origin, my mother died many years ago and my brother and I are not close. Jacki is my partner and we have been together for 31 years, we met in Kindergarten! plus we have 3 dog Stretch a rescued Border Collie, Tango the Mexican howler and now Mechuda aka Moxi, a recent foster but now a permanent resident (she is applying for her green card!), plus 4 cats. I always say I have 7 hungry mouths to feed and that excludes the humans. On the human front I have some really great friends, many are past clients.

What’s your most favorite thing about South Seattle?
Lake Washington, I love that lake and swim in it all summer.

What’s your least favorite thing about South Seattle?
How expensive housing is becoming.

Where is your favorite place to go in South Seattle?
Seward Park, especially the trails through the woods.

If you could live anywhere besides South Seattle, where would it be?
Hmm, a ton of places! Cape Town maybe? Barcelona, Somewhere by the sea.

If there was one thing you could change about South Seattle, what would it be?
Make housing more affordable.

Who inspires you?
Folks who fight for change and seeing our rescue dogs come out of their shells and enjoy life!

What was the last thing you read?
Greg Mortenson, ‘Stones into Schools’

Tell us something about you that not many people know:
I have a tattoo on my belly.

What is your idea of perfect happiness?
Lying in the sun with a good book and a nice cup of tea.

What is your greatest fear?
Being locked in a Honey bucket!

What is the trait you most deplore in yourself?
Self-criticism

What is the trait you most deplore in others?
Egotism

What is your greatest regret?
That I never knew my father.

What or who is the greatest love of your life?
Tango, oops Jacki!

What is your current state of mind?
Concerned about who our next President is going to be.

What do you consider your greatest achievement?
Writing and performing in a comedy duo in New York.

What is your most treasured possession?
A beautiful photo of my mother when she was 16 but looked like she was in her 20’s she was quite stunning.

What do you most value in your friends?
Kindness & a sense of humor

Who is your favorite hero of fiction?
Precious Ramotswe from the ‘#1 Ladies Detective Agency’ Series

Who are your heroes in real life?
Nelson Mandela, Greg Mortenson and his crew at Central Asia Institute, Aung San Suu Kyi, Barak Obama, Pramila Jayapal, Dali Lama

What is it that you most dislike?
Folks using social media in a mean spirited way and just venting, plus cyber bullying.

What else should we know about you?
I’m cute but not first thing in the morning! I was born in Australia.

Photos/Serena Heslop

 

 

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