UP CLOSE & PERSONAL
WITH ALAN K. STOUT

Michelle Reilly is a mortgage loan originator with Benchmark McCabe Mortgage who also serves on the advisory boards of several area nonprofits and is president of Mountaintop Rotary. Reilly is a native of Mountaintop and a graduate of Crestwood High School and Pennsylvania Real Estate Academy. She has two children, Molly and Harry, and lives in Mountaintop.
Meet Michelle Reilly …

You’re also very involved in the community. Tell us about your work with the Rotary.
It involves a lot of events and a lot of fundraising. It’s like another full-time job. (Laughs) But I can’t believe how much I love it. And it’s growing. Our club has doubled in size over the past few years. It’s a lot of work, but there’s a great reward when you’re helping people … whether it’s a $1,000 check to help people with autism or a check to the library or care packages for children in hospitals. We had an amazing fundraiser right before Christmas where we worked in conjunction with some other service clubs, where we collected food donations and monetary donations to fill up backpacks for kids who might go hungry during the holidays. When they get their breakfast and lunch at school every day and there’s no school for two weeks, they don’t get food. So we filled up backpacks for these kids to take home. It’s things like that … just little things, but they go on and on.

What other community-oriented organizations are you involved with?
I sit on the board of associates of the Lehigh Valley Health Network. I’m also a member of the Wilkes-Barre Chamber of Commerce and also attend meetings in Hazleton. And most recently, I’ve been appointed to the board of the Mohegan Sun Arena at Casey Plaza. And I volunteer with the Future Business Leaders of America.

How did you first get involved in real estate? You did quite a few other things, previously, correct?
For 18 years, while I was raising my kids, I had a cleaning business. And my family has had a business in Mountaintop, Reilly’s Garage, for more than 60 years, and I also worked there in the office. But I eventually got into real estate. I had some influential people in my life that were in the real-estate industry, and they suggested I give it a shot. And so I started part-time. I was doing three jobs. I was cleaning, I was helping in the office at the family business and doing real estate. And I was also modeling. I went to modeling school when I was in high school, and I did that off and on for a while. At one point, I went to John Casablancas outside of Philadelphia to work. But that was hard with the commuting because all of the work was down that way. I also did it locally here and there and did a few commercials, but it was impossible to make a living. The real estate eventually just kind of weaned into a full-time job. I was with Lewith & Freedman for eight years and Century 21 for five years. In the fall of 2016, I was approached by Benchmark McCabe Mortgage.

So now you’re not necessarily helping
people sell homes, but rather you help them finance homes?
Correct. I still get to work with all of the real-estate agents and stay in contact with them. And I still get to spend time with the buyers. It’s just in a little bit of a different way. It’s just another part of the business.

What you do enjoy about it?
Helping people. You get gratification from their happy faces. It’s exciting. The goal is always to see people achieve their dreams of home ownership. Handing over the keys at closing is a very exciting moment for everyone.

It doesn’t sound like you have a lot of free time, but when you do, what do you enjoy doing?
I try to make time for live music. I love to go out and hear live music. I also play piano, and I kind of half-heartedly play guitar. And I love to sing. I grew up singing. My mom was the organist at her church for more than 60 years, and I sang in the choir. That’s where I began to sing, and then it kind of spawned into singing at funerals or weddings, and with friends in bands — just for fun. Music is my favorite. If somebody says, “Let’s go to a concert,” I’m like, “Let’s do it.” I also love fashion and art, and I’m starting to appreciate film a little bit more. I also like to power-walk and run. And I plan to find time to learn to speak fluently in French, Spanish and Italian. (Laughs)

Who are some of your favorite musical artists?
It’s a wide span. My iTunes goes from Aerosmith to Shawn Mendes and everything in between. From Bruno Mars to the Eagles. I love everything. I really do. My favorite band is Journey. My favorite album is “Frampton Comes Alive,” and the best concert I’ve seen was probably the Eagles. My favorite current band is OneRepublic.

All-time favorite movie?
“Saturday Night Fever.”

Favorite TV show?
I like “Scandal” right now. And “Two and A Half Men” with Charlie Sheen.

Favorite author?
Paul Cwalina.

Do you remember your first car?
A 1976 metallic blue Chevy Malibu.

Favorite city?
San Diego.

Favorite vacation spot?
The Outer Banks. But the best place I’ve ever been was Hawaii.

Favorite thing about NEPA?
It’s a good place to raise a family. We’re close to a lot of things, yet we’re tucked away in our little safety net.

Favorite food?
Seafood.

Favorite holiday?
Christmas.

Guilty pleasure?
Cabernet.

Have you had a defining personal moment or something that has helped shape you into the person you are today?
There have been so many. My life has been such a journey. It’s had twists and turns, and there’s been a series of so many events. And I’m still on the journey, and I’m enjoying the journey. And I still have big dreams.

UP CLOSE & PERSONAL with ALAN K. STOUT is a regular feature in electric city, profiling people from all walks of life throughout NEPA. Reach Alan at alankstout@comcast.net.

photos by emma black

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