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Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Top Female Broker Adds Beauty to African Village

Lee & Associates’ Christine Deschaine returns home after helping village open its first self-sustaining business in Uganda, Africa
LOS ANGELES — March 14, 2012 — Christine Deschaine is a very busy woman. What with her 24-7 work ethic toward her job as a retail broker for Lee & Associates LA North/Ventura, Inc., it’s a wonder the Los Angeles resident has time for anything else but showing properties, managing tenants and landlords and fielding the many calls and emails from clients and other brokers. But despite her time-consuming professional life, she still makes time for the small village of Kaihura, Uganda.
 “I dedicate time, energy, or even my thoughts to Africa at least once a day. Once you have witnessed their plight and been moved by their gratitude and welcoming faces, it is hard not to think about the people of Africa,” says Deschaine, who has just returned from her third trip to Kaihura, Uganda.
As one of Lee & Associates’ most successful retail brokers, and in fact, one of the few women brokers in the profession, Deschaine somehow finds time for Kaihura and its villagers, which she connected with through Global Support Mission (GSM). GSM is a Tennessee-based charity organization that connects volunteers with grass-roots community programs in developing nations. In this particular case, Deschaine, who has developed a passion for global volunteer initiatives over the years, helped build a hair salon and bridal boutique for the village in southern Uganda.
GSM has assisted with many projects in Kaihura, which they are affiliated with through Bringing Hope to the Family, a community program that aids local orphans and vulnerable children who have lost their parents to violence, poverty, or disease. Some previous projects include the building of a medical clinic, a vocational school and an orphanage as well as mosquito net outreach to the surrounding community. But the people of Kaihura have been very excited for the addition of Village Art Hair Salon and Bridal Boutique, their first self-sustaining business. Given Deschaine’s background with retail, it was a perfect project for her to get involved with.
So after three years in the making, trips back-and-forth from California to Africa and a little physical labor, Deschaine is pleased to announce that Kaihura’s Village Art Hair Salon and Bridal Boutique had a successful grand opening. Along with Deschaine, the local community and other volunteers from GSM came together to make possible a business that will provide skills and jobs to several people in the village. In addition, the profits from the salon help sustain Bringing Hope to the Family.
For Deschaine, who grew up with a family-owned beauty salon business, her broker experience has put her in front of some of Beverly Hills most prominent high-end spas and salons. But this one-room -- with its bright green and orange painted walls, its two chairs and single hair-washing station -- is as beautiful as any place on Rodeo Drive.
“Because of my background with the family-run beauty salon, I was able to help train the local women on how to give manicures and pedicures. They were so eager to learn! It is great to foster the entrepreneurial spirit there, because that is how the village will be able to help itself,” said Deschaine.
 Even from home she was able to contribute to the project by gathering resources and raising money and awareness with her friends, family, and even her retail clients, many of which donated beauty products that Deschaine personally brought to Kaihura in overstuffed suitcases.
“The beauty about this project is that it will provide women and men in the community with skills that they can use to add value to their families and communities,” says Deschaine. “No one really thought that shops like these were possible in the village setting, but Village Art is already more successful than we could have hoped for.”
Deschaine is no stranger to working against the odds as a woman who has been incredibly successful in a man’s world. With more than 18 years of experience in retail tenant and landlord representation, she has consistently ranked among the top producers of Lee & Associates. Specializing in urban redevelopment with some of the Los Angeles’ most prominent retail developers, she has been an integral part of the resurgence of neighborhoods such as Santa Monica’s Third Street Promenade, downtown Burbank Village, Hollywood Boulevard and Culver City. 
“Christine’s work ethic and her dedication to improving the quality of life wherever she goes has made her a major asset to our team,” said Mike Tingus president of Lee & Associates’ Los Angeles North/Ventura office. “Constantly reminding us of how important it is to give back, she has truly bridged the gap between Africa and Los Angeles for our office and our clients. I consider myself very lucky to know such an inspiring person.” 
Just days after her return, Deschaine is already looking forward to her next trip to Kaihura, where three new construction projects await her. She has also found a way to help the people of Kaihura from home in the interim by spearheading two action groups for Bringing Hope to the Family, through which she plans to raise money for uniforms and school fees for an entire school year for over 115 students.
Contributions can be made to any GSM affiliate at, where Deschaine’s action groups are “Scholarship Fund” and “Secondary Education and Uniforms.”  


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