As Director of Professional Development at Coldwell Banker Mid-America, Sarah Kavalier is in the business of helping people find a home.
But even outside of work, Sarah continues to help people find their spot in Altoona.
How? By leading and serving the Altoona community, guiding our city’s growth to make sure people feel at home here.
Why? To support the community that’s made her feel safe and welcome since the day she arrived.
Traveling Far and Wide
Before coming home to Altoona, Sarah Kavalier lived and traveled in quite a few places.
For starters, she grew up on a farm as the oldest of 5 just south of Dedham, Iowa, in Carroll County. From there, she went on to the University of Northern Iowa, where she did a LOT of traveling while studying business.
In 1996, she spent a summer on an army base in Germany, working as a UNI Camp Adventure counselor.
Her time there was filled with basketball games, school dances, and other fun activities that got the on-base teens excited to be together. Plus, she spent her weekends traveling all over Europe!
Sarah also participated in the UNI National Student Exchange, which allowed her to attend the University of North Carolina Wilmington at UNI’s tuition rate.
Her final collegiate travel adventure came during her senior year when she spent a semester abroad in Ecuador. While there, she traveled all over the country and even got to spend her spring break in Cuba!
Finding Home—Moved to Altoona in 2006
After all the crazy years of travel and post-college moving, Sarah needed to find a place to call home.
So, she moved to Altoona in 2006.
Great homeownership opportunities are what initially caught her eye, but our community itself is what made her decide to make the move.
“From the very moment I moved here, I knew I was going to love the town”, she said. “Because it had the small-town feel, but I was super close to anywhere else that I wanted to go.”
She immediately loved the people of Altoona, and quickly grew fond of all our city’s amenities as well. Altoona’s library, pool, trail system, and other important resources all stuck out to her when she arrived.
And as a mother of 3 boys, she was especially fond of Altoona’s schools.
Sarah said our schools are “filled with teachers and administration that love our kids, want to protect our kids, and that want our kids to do their very best.”
Helping People Find a Home—Working in Real Estate
When she became a licensed REALTOR® in 2018, Sarah started helping people find a home in Altoona for a living.
Interestingly enough, a couple of her clients actually became her neighbors!
She was showing them houses in the area but hadn’t shown them anything in Altoona yet. “They were like, ‘Sarah why aren’t we looking at Altoona? You haven’t stopped telling us about much you love Altoona…’”, she said. “They ended up living like 5 houses or 6 houses down from me!”
Sarah’s real estate career has grown even further since then. Now, she’s working at Coldwell Banker Mid-America as Director of Professional Development.
She sets up the curriculum for the Mid-America School of Real Estate, helping to educate and license Iowa’s realtors so they can help people find homes in the area. (Hopefully, some of them will wind up right here in Altoona.)
Making Altoona Residents Feel at Home—Community Leadership
Sarah said she loves our community and wants to see it grow so that more people can find their place here.
Therefore, she’s stepped up as a local leader.
“Last year, I was able to join the Altoona Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors. I’m also part of the Arts and Culture Commission with the City of Altoona”, she said. “I want to see our community continue to grow in a healthy way. We’ve got a lot of great things going for us, and I want to help keep us in that direction.”
Sarah encourages other Altoona residents to consider how their talents can help guide our city’s growth. After all, it takes a lot of teamwork to create a community as vibrant as the one we enjoy.
She said, “In order for the community to grow, stay close, and keep that small-town feel—we need more people to be involved, and to care, and to give their time.”
Home is Where the Loving Community is
Sarah has always felt welcomed and supported by Altoona’s community, from moving day to the present.
“One of the first things I fell in love with was my street—my neighborhood”, she said. “There are a ton of families. When I had young kids, the kids could all run out and play with one another…we all just look out for each other’s kids and pets.”
“It’s just a really wonderful place where you feel like you could go to any one of your neighbors and say, ‘hey I need a cup of sugar—what do you have?’”, said Sarah.
Sarah feels the same way about the churches in the area, which she says have been there for her and the greater community. She currently attends High Point Church in Altoona, along with her cousins.
“We have some really wonderful churches here. There have been a few that I’ve attended, and the outreach [programs] that they have to help people in need are amazing,” she said. “I’ve always just felt very safe in this community, and very welcomed.”
From a 30,000-foot view, Sarah Kavalier’s story is one of seeking a community to call home, then finding it and giving back to it. Where? Friendly Altoona, Iowa.
Thanks for reading this #PeopleofAltoona feature!
Just minutes from Des Moines, Altoona is home to amenities that everyone can enjoy—from major entertainment attractions and shopping destinations to beautiful metro parks—as well as good schools, cozy neighborhoods, fun community events, and a thriving economy.