The Good Neighbor Awards recognize REALTORSŪ who've made an extraordinary commitment to improving the quality of life in their communities through volunteer work. Five winners will receive $10,000 grants for their cause. The 2009 deadline will be May 22.
2008 Good Neighbor Finalists Announced
Good Neighbor Finalist Gives Hope to Abandoned Children
For his 20th wedding anniversary Greg Garrett could have taken his wife on a cruise or on a romantic getaway to Paris. Instead, he persuaded her to visit orphanages in El Salvador, where they met children in desperate need.
“We discovered an orphanage where six adults were trying to care for 250 children in facilities with a leaky roof and no working toilets,” remembers Garrett. “It was heart breaking,”
Though the trip was difficult, Garrett says he was acting on a calling he felt to help improve the lives of some of the world’s most needy children—those who have been abandoned by their parents or society. “It has been a desire of mine for years to help these forgotten children,” says Garrett.
That trip in 2000 inspired Garrett to found Orphan Helpers to support children in orphanages and detention centers around the world. Currently working at 12 orphanages in El Salvador and Honduras, the organization provides food, shelter, education, and hope to more than 1,000 children.
Orphan Helpers hires teachers, counselers and caregivers—who often outnumber existing staff in state-run facilities by three to one—as well as donates food, clothing, books, and toys. Many of the teenagers who have received support from Orphan Helpers are now beginning to work with the organization to help other youngsters, “That’s a major theme of ours,” says Greg. “We want today’s orphans to become tomorrow’s helpers.”
The group also partners with local churches and even the military to build, repair and upgrade facilities. With the help of hundreds of U.S. and local volunteers, the organization has installed toilets, showers, ceiling fans, and light fixtures. Garrett has led 14 trips of volunteers and donors to the orphanages and has helped raise more than $1 million since 2000. The organization will be expanding into Nicaragua and Guatemala in 2006.
“I have been able to see lives change, not only of the kids but also those of the volunteers,” says Garrett. “My hope is to be in 100 nations working with more than a million kids, and that one day the orphans we’re helping now will run the organization.”