Terri Kaminski is a real estate broker with more than 30 years of experience in sales, marketing, and business ownership.
Terri Kaminski knew from the age of five that she was a caregiver. Imprinted by the love of her grandmother (who at 98, according to Terri, has the kindest eyes and smile on the planet) Terri instinctively reaches out to people in need, crossing beyond boundaries to help the underserved who many others don’t even see.
Terri went to college on a rodeo scholarship. Born on a cattle ranch in Idaho, she and her two sisters grew up on horses, helping to manage the family’s 800 acres and 500 head of cattle. The first in her family to enroll in post-secondary education, Terri attended Boise State with a dream of becoming a sports broadcaster.
But as it usually does, life unfurled in unexpected ways. Terri fell in love and got married, following her husband to Seattle for a job. They settled in Queen Anne. Right after her first son, Cameron, was born, Terri launched her first business. An instinctive entrepreneur, she started a medical transcription business with more than 100 offsite transcriptionists. “I didn’t want to commute,” Terri recalls, “and I didn’t want to punch a clock. That’s the rancher in me. I want to do the work that needs to be done, when it needs doing, not because of an external clock.” Along the way she added a medical recruiting firm. Both companies were successful, thanks not only to Terri’s leadership and business acumen but also to her empathic management skills.
Terri gave birth to her second son, Kendall, rounding out a very full plate. Not wanting to raise children in the city, the family moved to Bainbridge Island, a 35-minute ferry ride away from Seattle. They bought the first house they saw. “I set about making our home warm, welcoming, and delightful. Those three words mean a lot to me—in my home and my character. They are the core of my essence, who I wish to be, and what I want to emanate.”
Despite her business success and beautiful, growing boys, Terri wanted to do more. She connected easily with adolescents and wanted to help youth at risk. She went back to school and earned a counseling certification. As part of this work, Terri accompanied 35 inner-city kids from Bremerton to a youth camp in Malibu, Canada. “These kids had never been out of Kitsap County,” Terri recalls. During the second day, a youth approached Terri and said of the group’s hosts: “They really want us here. They love us for who we are.” This youth’s words, and the week as a whole, led Terri to see things from an entirely new perspective. “The trip changed their lives as much as it changed mine,” Terri remarks. She loved working as a counselor and mentor and felt a natural connection to the underserved youth whom many others chose to ignore.
Terri’s experience and commitment to at-risk youth coalesced when her older son Cameron asked if a friend from the East Coast, Isiah Connor, could move in. “We didn’t really think twice about it,” Terri said. “Isiah needed a home where he could make a fresh start. Two days later, we picked him up at the airport.” Isiah quickly became a part of the Kaminski family and the Bainbridge community.
While opening her heart and her home with love, it was soon time for a necessary ending: After 25 years of marriage, Terri and her husband divorced. Recognizing her need for space and time to heal, as well as her passion for the kids who had stolen her heart on that trip to Canada, Terri moved to Bremerton, where she had started working as a Young Life youth minister and mentor. She revamped her new house to accommodate homeless teens, putting herself on the frontline of care where she was able to support underserved kids who desperately needed help. She felt blessed to be able to do the work she was trained—and felt called—to do.
But then, on discovering that Terri was divorced, the organization abruptly terminated her employment. Terri was devastated. Having just invested wholeheartedly in her home and ministry position, she was forced to step away.
Terri continued to work as a counselor in private practice while fostering the idea that a shift to real estate would put her people skills and business experience to good use while working in a field she liked—and still paying the bills. “The ability to hold someone’s emotions, to listen, reflect, and understand, and be the port in the storm: Those counseling skills have all come into play in my real estate career,” Terri observes.
Terri wanted to work in the community she knew inside and out as a 25-year resident. She also wanted to work in a boutique real estate brokerage, rather than a national chain. She returned to Bainbridge Island and received an offer from a local Real Estate brokerage, which she happily accepted. Being in business for herself was deeply empowering.
Because Terri was so connected and recognized in the community, she hit the ground running. It didn’t take long for her to identify the emotional needs of buyer and sellers, and apply her unique skill set to providing her clients with more than the average agent. “I want my buyers and sellers to feel they have a steadfast partner in this process. I show up. This isn’t just a job for me. It’s a way for me to do what I love: holding people’s emotions during a challenging time. Being present. Whatever gets thrown our way, I’m the rock that my clients depend on. That means a lot to me.”
Terri loves serving the community she calls home. “Bainbridge Island is unique in that it’s one of the few true communities out there. Because we’re surrounded by water, we’re inherently more interdependent and connected. The mom and dad network here is alive and well. That’s hard to find, and deeply attractive to buyers. From the moment you get off the ferry, you can feel it. You see the charm and it’s irresistible.”
With authenticity, empathy, and unfailing good humor, Terri helps buyers and sellers through an unavoidably stressful period. At the end of the day, Terri knows she’s done right by her clients, which is what matters most. “My favorite moment is handing a buyer the key to their new home,” Terri says. “You know someone is starting a new chapter of their lives here, and it’s such a privilege to have facilitated that opportunity.”
Now Terri gets to weave those stories together while mentoring and doing “life” with the beautiful young people she loves, without the strings of organized religion—all while paving her way in the business world, helping people buy and sell homes. “It’s all tied together in this big crazy thing called life,” Terri remarks. “Beautifully broken, and oh so rich.”