Windermere Professional Partners Windermere Real Estate
Central Tacoma


Cut your grass, love your neighbor


Tommie moved to Tacoma in the late 1950’s from Arkansas after her stepfather was stationed at Fort Lewis. She was still a teenager, and leaving her friends behind and starting over at Stadium High School was hard. Little by little she made one friend at a time and found her community.

Over the years in Hilltop she’s been married, raised children- and now lives in the same home her parents bought when they moved to Tacoma. She’s completed nursing school, joined the military, and been deployed to a warzone during the first Gulf War.

Helping people in Hilltop and being a good neighbor is Tommie’s passion in life. “I love the work that I do for others. I love my home, and I love my community. I wish that everyone could feel the same way that I do about their community.”

Tommie is passionate about her community and is committed to being involved with her church where her husband Alan is a pastor. “I have a lot of memories in it, that memory is what keeps me there,” says Tommie. “I get my spiritual needs met, my husband is an associate minister, I sing in the choir, I’m a deaconess.”

Alan shares about how he loves Hilltop, and how he and Tommie try to embody the values he was raised with as a child. “ We were raised by a neighborhood, by a village. We knew every person in the neighborhood. We shared whatever we had with people who needed something.”

Tommie’s advice for being a good neighbor:

  1. Respect yourself
  2. Cut your grass, cut your bushes, trim your trees
  3. If you see something happening in the neighborhood, let your neighbor know
  4. Put the top down on your garbage can
  5. Meet your neighbor, introduce yourself, and give them your phone number
  6. Treat your neighbor like you would like to be treated

What happens when you meet your neighbors? How can we increase the feeling of connection between members of our community and their neighbors? Over the past few months we here at Windermere Professional Partners have set out to answer those questions. Based on recommendations from our REALTORS® we set out with a camera crew to speak to our neighbors from the heart about what it means to be a neighbor, to live life fully, and to connect with our community.

Click here to watch the Behind the Scenes Vlog!

Produced by Gabriel Ng

Tommie Cebrun: My name is Tommie Cebrun, and I have lived here since probably about 1959. It was 1959. My step-father was in the military, and so he got stationed at Fort Lewis, and so we moved here to be with him. When I came from Arkansas, I was in my teens. I got here, and I didn't connect with people right away, because I was, I guess, depressed at having to leave my friends and move to a new place. Stadium High School, it was huge to where I came from. I was kind of lost [inaudible 00:00:43], didn't have any friends. Then I met one friend, and then I met two friends. Then I started to know people and they started to know me, so it got a lot better.

It was different, because I had never gone to school with white kids before. I don't remember if they treated me any different or not, I'm sure that there was some differences, maybe just by my being new in school, you know, a new person in school. Those things do happen. Like I said, I had two friends, and we did things together.

When I graduated from high school, I wanted to go into the military, and my parents said no, mostly my father. So I went to school to be a nurse. Yeah, at age 35 I received a phone call on a Sunday afternoon, Christmas Eve I believe it was, but it was right at Christmas time, saying that I needed to report to the unit. And that was all they said. Then when I got to the unit, which was Fort Lewis, they told us we were going to Saudi Arabia.

Being 35 years of age, and going to a war zone is not something that you really, really want to do. The thing that I always think about is, "Well, this could happen, you know, when you join." You were not supposed to take a bible with you, and I could not imagine going away from home into a place I did not feel safe and not taking my safety with me. Okay, so that was my safety. So my husband bought me a cover for my bible, and I covered it, put it in my luggage, and off to Saudi we went.

But while we were over there, my girlfriend Mary and I started a chapel, and it was nice. On Sunday mornings, we would have our services and more people came. It was something that we really enjoyed. We did the best that we could to keep things like they were at home.

My church is very close, it's a church that I grew up in. I get my spiritual needs met. Okay. My husband's one of the associate ministers there. I sing in the choir, I'm a deaconess. I am supposed to teach Sunday School, but usual my time comes, I ask my husband, "Don't you want to teach Sunday School this Sunday?"

In that particular church, I have a lot of memory there. That memory is what keeps me there, not the pastor, not because it's close, not any of those things, it's the memory that I have there. I'm very active in my church, so I've tried to do what He wanted us to do. I try to live the life that Jesus showed us when he came on Earth. I think that's what we're supposed to do.

On Sunday mornings when I get ready for church, I usually don't eat breakfast, because I don't like to eat breakfast 'til about 10:00 or 11:00. But I get up and I get dressed and yes, I do try to ... I dress. I dress for me and I dress for God. Okay? I remember my mother telling me that growing up that sometime they only have two or three dresses, so they would wear that one dress, and then they had those other two dresses for a Sunday. And they always made sure that they were clean and they looked, you know, ironed and everything. So I try to follow in that particular footstep.

Church starts at 11:00, I'm there for church. Connection for a church and the community for me on the Hilltop are the same. In order to have a healthy church life, I have to have a healthy community life. So my community life, I feel is healthy by the things that I do to help the people in the community. They count on me for guidance, they count on me for counseling if someone is having a problem. They count on me if they are short of food. I keep an extra freezer with food in it, so if someone needs something, I can be available to give it to them. They count on me for support, just physical support. If they're having a problem, they count on me for that. In helping to keep the community safe, they count on me for that. I first count on Jesus and God, and then I count on my husband and my neighbors.

For my husband, I count on him for knowledge, because there are some things that, he is the minister, I am not. Okay, so I count on him for that support, that religious support.

Allen Cebrun: Oh, I am Allen Cebrun, I live in 1908 South M Street with my wife. We used to work together. I met her before we worked together through a friend. I love Hilltop, because I come from a place and I came from an era as well that we was segregated. We went to an all black school. Everything that we did was in the community. There was a lot of police brutality.

We also had something that they don't have today, and my wife mentioned it. We was raised by a neighborhood, by a village. We knew every person in the neighborhood. We shared whatever we had with people who needed something. It was no surprise to go next door and get a cup of sugar. So when I got here, I could not believe that they was mixed with the whites, they lived in the same neighborhoods, they went to the same stores, and that was not the way I grew up. Even though it shocked me, I thought it was good, because that lesson by them living together and commingling together, they got rid of a lot of those myths.

Tommie Cebrun: I love the work that I do for others. I love my home, and I love my community. I just wish that everyone in a community environment would feel the same way that I do about the community. It's not what happens outside of the home, it's what happens in the home. If you have strong values in the home, then those values will go outside with you.

So here's my advice on how to be a good neighbor. Respect yourself, cut your grass, cut your bushes, trim your trees. Do those things that, you know, to keep your property up so that when someone see the house, it's not like this house, "Oh, well that house lawn looks so good. Ooh, what happened here?" Put some pride in what you do. If you see something that's happening in your neighborhood, let your neighbor know. Have a healthy environment. If you see paper on the street, you might not have put it there, but pick it up. Put the top down on your garbage can so garbage doesn't fly all over the place. I mean, those are those simple things, those little things that help to make a healthy neighborhood to live in.

Allen Cebrun: My wife said, "Be respectful, and get involved in the community. Do not isolate yourself. Know them, and be like a village."

Tommie Cebrun: Go over and meet the neighbor, introduce yourself, let them know who you are, and give them your phone number. Let them know if they need anything you're here, you're available. That is what I think it takes to make a good neighbor. Just treat your neighbor like you would like to be treated is basically what I think it would take.

Choir: ... Jesus, and I love you so much.

Pianist: One more time.

Choir: And I love you so much, Jesus, and I love you so much.

Pianist: It's a miracle I can remember everything. Thank God.

Tommie Cebrun: I do.