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 Helps Shelter the Homeless
Jeanne Williams-Livesay, William E. Wood & Associates, Chesapeake, Va.
Without Williams-Livesay, many homeless people in Southeastern Virginia wouldn't have a safe place to sleep or a hot meal, even on the coldest nights of winter.
“My feeling is that there are many things I can overlook in life—whether I like it or not—but nobody should be cold and hungry,” says Williams-Livesay.
Williams-Livesay coordinates 57 churches to provide shelter and meals to the homeless from November to April for Portsmouth Volunteers for the Homeless Inc. She recruits host churches to house anywhere from 25 to 105 homeless men and women and also provides overnight chaperones and supplies.
“It's an enormous undertaking to coordinate 57 churches, with all their different schedules, personalities, and demands for the 170 nights of the cold season,” says Erin Gossage, executive director, Portsmouth Volunteers for the Homeless, Inc. “Her first priority is always the clients and how they can best be served.”
Williams-Livesay—who has been a volunteer for 12 years, the last three as chief coordinator—also finds support churches or local companies to plan, prepare, and serve each night’s hot meal.
Williams-Livesay has gotten her real estate company, William E. Wood & Associates, involved in the effort. “She asks in such a way that we want to volunteer,” says Jo Ann Wood, managing broker. “Our office has learned much from these folks at the shelter and our lives are richer for having served. We’re glad that Jeanne introduced us to this mission.”
Some guests stay in the shelter only for a short time until they get back on their feet; others are elderly or mentally disabled and will use the services for many years, says Williams-Livesay. “Some of our guests work—but their jobs don't pay enough to support rent, heat, electricity, and water,” explains Williams-Livesay. “I know many other people are only one paycheck from being in the position of some of our guests.”
Reflects Williams-Livesay: “I feel good knowing that for 170 nights last year, the homeless men and women in my community had a safe, warm place to stay and went to bed without hungry bellies.”