Five REALTORS® who are advancing their communities’ well-being through selfless volunteer work with fledgling local charities have each been matched with a mentor to improve their organizations and advance their causes. As part of REALTOR® Magazine’s Volunteering Works program, an offshoot of the Good Neighbor Awards, the recipients will receive one year of mentorship from a past Good Neighbor winner or honorable mention. The goal is to help these practitioners expand their charity work to make a wider impact on their communities. Each Volunteering Works recipient also will receive $1,000 in seed money to implement some of the ideas they develop with the mentor to help the nonprofit effort grow.

“REALTORS® have an extraordinary reach into their communities,” William E. Brown, 2017 president of the National Association of REALTORS®, said in a statement. “Many of them guide, mentor, and volunteer in the places they live and work, and these Volunteering Works recipients are improving lives in ways that will continue far beyond 2017.”

The Volunteering Works program, which is sponsored by Wells Fargo, stands to help civic-minded practitioners better understand how to help their charities become more effective, says Diana Bowler, a 2016 recipient. Bowler, GRI, a sales associate with Allen Tate, REALTORS®, in Charlotte, N.C., received mentoring from 2015 Good Neighbor Susan Stearns, who offered ideas on how Bowler’s charity could grow. Bowler describes Stearns as a “godsend” who gave her direction on how to “organize our organization and professionally handle adversarial situations.” Bowler has used her $1,000 grant to help fund a new flagpole for the Charlotte-area Dogwood Park, which is expected to be installed in 2018.

Meet the 2017 Volunteering Works recipients:

Karen Cunningham, GRI, AHWD
Fontana Realty
Ocala, Fla.

As board president of the Marion Therapeutic Riding Association, Cunningham helps provide therapeutic horseback riding for children and adults with mental, physical, and emotional disabilities. Her mentor, 2014 Good Neighbor Gail Doxie, who runs an equine assisted psychotherapy facility for PTSD patients, will guide her on how to create compelling fundraising events and engage board members.

Priyanka Johri
Woodlands Eco Realty
The Woodlands, Texas

Founder of Pure Mutts Animal Sanctuary, Johri provides a no-cage shelter for dogs who are sick, older, or injured—often animals that other shelters can’t care for—and finds them permanent . Brenda Breit, a 2013 Good Neighbor who also works with abandoned animals, will help Johri with her goal to match dogs with domestic abuse survivors.

Vickie Lobo
RE/MAX Champions
Upland, Calif.

Lobo’s Community Miracle Makeover facilitates home makeovers for people suffering from cancer or debilitating disabilities, as well as people moving out of a homeless shelter and into an apartment. Her mentor, 2016 Good Neighbor Cindy Barrett, whose nonprofit has fixed up nearly 900 for low-income owners, will advise Lobo on obtaining nonprofit status and fundraising more effectively.

Janet Tanner
West Hartford, Conn.

Tanner’s organization, Real Estate Agents Recycle, picks up unwanted household items from home sellers and donates them to local nonprofits such as Salvation Army and Habitat ReStore, thereby reducing landfill waste. Beth Smoot, a 2014 Good Neighbor who runs a “food pantry for furniture,” will provide Tanner guidance on marketing, as well as recruiting and training volunteers.

Kimberly Watson
Lions Realty Group
Beverly Hills, Calif.

As founder of Project Joy Inc., Watson raises funds for homeless shelters and underfunded schools, collecting winter coats, holiday meals, Christmas gifts, and money for college scholarships. Her efforts have impacted 4,000 children. Her mentor, 2016 Good Neighbor Ed Liebzeit, who leads a domestic violence shelter, will help her improve communications via her organization’s website and social media.

—REALTOR® Magazine



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