So few professions allow individuals to make such a wide impact in their local community, than real estate. One person, like the National Association of Realtors® 2019 Good Neighbor Awards finalist, Kristy Payne in Oklahoma has helped over 2,000 foster children in her state with necessities so desperately needed after a child is removed from a relative’s home.
That’s one person who has impacted thousands. And like the other 10 finalists, and all award winners honored in the past, they’d never pat themselves on the back, they’d keep putting as much effort as possible into making an impact in their neighborhoods and beyond.
2019 marks the 20th year or of this awards program which honors Realtors who have made a positive impact on their communities through “incalculable hours of volunteer time,” and millions of dollars in charitable fundraising. They pour all they have into enriching the lives of those around them, and they deserve recognition.
“We are honored to have this group of extraordinary people representing the Good Neighbor Awards as we celebrate the 20-year milestone,” says NAR President John Smaby, Edina, Minnesota. “They inspire us and epitomize ‘who we are’ as Realtors.”
Voting is now open and lasts through September 28th – five winners will be named on October 2nd, and each will receive a $10,000 grant, be featured in the November/December issue of REALTOR® Magazine, and the remaining five finalists will receive a $2,500 grant in recognition of their work. The top three vote getters will win bonus grants of $2,500, $1,250 and $1,250, respectively, for their nonprofit organizations.
“The Good Neighbor Awards reflect the values we share with the Realtor® family,” said Tracey Fellows, acting CEO of realtor.com, the primary sponsor of the awards. “This year’s finalists represent the industry at its best – making meaningful connections that count for people, families and communities.”
More about the 10 finalists:
Sabrina Cohen – The Sabrina Cohen Foundation
Coldwell Banker Residential Real Estate, Miami Beach, Fla.
Fourteen years after Cohen suffered a spinal cord injury, she founded a nonprofit dedicated to funding adaptive fitness and recreational activities for people with disabilities. She created Miami Beach’s first inclusive playground, runs monthly Adaptive Beach Days and spearheads a $10 million capital campaign to build a state-of-the-art adaptive recreation center.
Rosemary Dutter – Dutter House Inc.
Century 21 Affiliated, Beloit, Wis.
To honor her beloved grandson who died at age 12, Dutter gives parents of severely disabled children a break from their daily challenges, transforming a local house into a safe, cheery and kid-friendly place. While she lovingly cares for these children each evening, their parents have time to run errands, spend quality time with their other children or simply take time for themselves.
Bruce Johnson, ABR®, CRS, GREEN – SickKids Foundation/Children’s Miracle Network
RE/MAX of Wasaga Beach Inc., Wasaga Beach, Ontario, Canada
In memory of his daughter, Alyssa, who died in 1998 at 20 days old, Johnson has traveled more than 37,000 miles across North and South America on his motorcycle. Johnson has raised more than $600,000 for Children’s Miracle Network, which benefits the SickKids hospital in Toronto where his daughter was treated, and a network of children’s hospitals.
Nora Partlow – Neighborhood Health
Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage, Alexandria, Va.
Partlow began supporting the neighborhood medical clinic when she noticed patients waiting in her coffee shop. As the daughter of immigrants, she understood the great need for affordable healthcare. Her greatest contribution is her ability to connect donors, patients and volunteers. In 21 years, she has raised $550,000 and recruited hundreds of supporters.
Kristy Payne – Fostering Sweet Dreams Foundation
Keller Williams, Edmond, Okla.
As a foster parent, Payne learned about the needs of families who may suddenly be asked to care for a child who is removed from a relative’s home. She provides necessities like beds and car seats to help bridge the gap for families working to collect all the resources required for placement. Since 2016, Payne has helped 2,000 children across 31 Oklahoma counties.
Mark Solomon – Veterans Community Project
Keller Williams, Kansas City, Mo. and Longmont, Colo.
Solomon co-founded a nonprofit to eliminate veteran homelessness through a “tiny house” development. The neighborhood includes an outreach center where any veteran can access medical and mental health referrals, employment assistance, and addiction counseling and treatment. With the Kansas City location nearly complete, Solomon is helping to expand the cause nationwide.
Bahar Soomekh – Angel City Sports
Nourmand & Associates, Beverly Hills, Calif.
Soomekh and her husband founded a nonprofit to help people with physical disabilities stay active, renew their spirits and connect with a supportive community. Inspired by her son, Ezra, who uses a leg prosthesis, Soomekh runs athletic clinics and competitions for adults and children with disabilities. The 2019 Angel City Games drew 1,500 spectators to cheer on 430 athletes.
Kimberly Strub – Schurig Center For Brain Injury Recovery
Coldwell Banker, Mill Valley, Calif.
Strub leads a nonprofit that improves the lives of people with brain injuries and their families through therapy, support groups and social and recreational activities. In a decade, she has raised $1 million, tripled both the annual budget and the number of people served, and helped set up a concussion protocol for children in the Marin County schools network.
Dale Taylor, ABR®, GRI – South Suburban PADS
RE/MAX 10, New Lenox, Ill.
For 19 years, Taylor has spent nearly every Monday night with the 35 homeless men who gather at the shelter site he manages just south of Chicago. From serving food and mopping floors to making decisions as a board member and raising nearly $3 million, Taylor calls his volunteerism a “divine calling.”
Paul Wyman, ABR® – Turning Point
The Wyman Group, Kokomo, Ind.
When he saw his community struggling with opioid addiction, Wyman called a county-wide summit to find solutions. This summit led Wyman to found a nonprofit that connects people affected by addiction with the services required for recovery. Instead of red tape, people now find a central resource to access help. Turning Point helped 1,400 clients during the last year.
NAR supports economic inclusion for equal housing opportunities
(REAL ESTATE ASSOCIATIONS) The NAR is pushing to insure anyone who wants a home can get one through a combination of economic inclusion, and eliminating implicit bias.
The National Association of Realtors® is working with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s Equality of Opportunity that addresses accessibility to housing based on economic inclusion. NAR CEO Bob Goldberg said,
“We believe that building a better future in America begins with equal access to housing and opportunity. With ongoing residential segregation contributing to many problems in our society, NAR recognizes that this nation cannot achieve true economic equality without first achieving true equality in housing. Our commitment to this cause and to Fair Housing has only strengthened in response to recent tragedies in America.”
What is economic inclusion?
According to the FDIC, economic inclusion describes the efforts to bring underserved communities into the financial mainstream. This could include things like making sure consumers have access to bank accounts and financial services; protections against discriminatory lending practices; and other types of consumer protections. Although the FDIC’s efforts seem to focus on unbanked and underbanked consumers, economic inclusion reaches around to all financial transactions, including housing.
Research from the Brookings Institution cites barriers to economic inclusion as slowing economic growth in local communities. Giving underserved communities access to financial products and opportunities actually spurs the local economy. The government bears the weight of services for the underserved. For example, childhood poverty costs the U.S. economy about 4% of the GDP annually. Nationwide, that is about $500 billion a year. Economic inclusion gives people a way out. It’s not a hand-out, but education and opportunities to change the future.
The NAR is making real change for the underserved
Last week, it was announced that the NAR introduced tools that would reduce implicit bias. Goldberg said, “NAR has spent recent years reexamining how our 1.4 million members can best lead the fight against discrimination, bigotry, and injustice.” The NAR isn’t just talking about it. They’re putting their money behind inclusion, and preventing unfair housing practices. These kind of changes matter for everyone.
NAR introduces meaningful tools and training to stop implicit bias
(REAL ESTATE ASSOCIATIONS) The NAR has been taking steps forward to erase implicit bias, and recent events have made this that much more important. You should also take steps.
The National Association of Realtors® is demonstrating its commitment to addressing housing discrimination and racial injustice through an Implicit Bias Training video that is being distributed to members. The online video proposes to “give (real estate agents) the tools to help override the effects of implicit bias. This means that the next time (they) work with clients from other cultures and backgrounds, (they) will be in a position to provide equal professional service, because (they) have embraced the work we all need to do to treat everyone fairly.” This 50-minute video is just one part of NAR’s work to reduce discrimination in housing.
The NAR is committed to fair housing
This video isn’t just a kneejerk reaction to the recent protests. In January, the NAR leadership announced a plan that emphasized Accountability, Culture Change, and Training (ACT) to protect housing rights, and uphold fair housing standards in the NAR’s code of ethics and in United States law.
Housing discrimination and implicit bias
In 1968, Congress passed the Fair Housing Act, which outlawed discrimination based on race, color, or national origin pertaining to housing. The Act has been strengthened over the past 52 years, but enforcement is still inconsistent. The problem isn’t that people are explicitly biased, but that there are many barriers and practices that are leading to continued housing segregation.
One practice that the NAR is responding to is implicit bias, which is an unconscious bias that affects how you interact with others. Consciously, you might never discriminate against another race, but you may unintentionally react differently with another race than you would with someone of the same race. This might manifest itself in many ways as a real estate agent. The Kirwan Institute or the Study of Race and Ethnicity research suggests that implicit bias can be showing black buyers fewer homes than a white homebuyer, even if they are pre-qualified.
Check your biases
The NAR is doing more than simply changing its social media status in light of #BlackLivesMatter. The NAR is working for real change for fair housing. I’d encourage you to watch the entire video to really understand implicit bias in real estate, and how it affects everyone. You can examine your own implicit biases through Project Implicit, a research collaboration project. We aren’t going to end housing discrimination through legislation without real reform by the people who act as guides into the real estate industry.
NAR ad campaign aims to show importance of Realtors amid COVID-19
(REAL ESTATE ASSOCIATIONS) The NAR have run ad campaigns in the past about the importance of Realtors, and things are no different even in the midst of COVID-19.
Last year, the NAR launched its new ad campaign titled “That’s Who We R” with the goal of promoting Realtor values in local communities both in residential and commercial properties. In light of the coronavirus pandemic, the real estate market has experienced changes along with the rest of the economy. We followed up with NAR Chief Marketing and Communications Officer, Victoria Gillespie on the state of the campaign since the COVID-19 outbreak.
“We have been working diligently with our agency partner Havas to ensure that the Consumer Ad Campaign (CAC) is responsive to the current environment and directly addressing the concerns of both Consumers and Members,” said Gillespie. “When it comes to our mass advertising (TV), we are currently fast tracking a new message that will speak to how REALTORS® are continuing to actively help Americans achieve their dreams of property ownership, even in uncertain times, with an optimistic look toward the future.”
Gillespie also explained how the campaign is producing new national radio spots and working with other content partners to share the ways in which Realtors are addressing recent housing issues such as advocating to Congress, to fighting for homeowners, and advising consumers directly. The NAR hosted an interactive online Q&A featuring President Vince Malta to answer questions largely catered towards first time homebuyers (the main target of the campaign).
NAR is also focusing on social media messaging by highlighting the value of Realtor expertise during uncertain times.
“Real estate has changed, however the dream has not and REALTORS® are still trusted advisors. We have transformed the way we do buying/selling with the same commitment to consumers; however, our lane and our voice is broader than that,” explained Gillespie.
“REALTORS® fight for mortgage relief, emergency loans, e-notaries and more. REALTORS® are good neighbors helping in communities across the country. Consumers will remember those brands and businesses that are doing something during and after this pandemic and will reward them with loyalty and future business.”
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