Every November, the National Association of REALTORS®’ Good Neighbor Awards honors five members who have given generously of their time to help their communities through volunteer work. Winners in 2022 supported people experiencing food insecurity, built affordable housing, provided free eye exams and glasses and worked to break the cycle of poverty through after-school mentoring. REALTORS®—who volunteer at nearly three times the rate of the typical American—are big-hearted and community-minded. The sheer volume of their good deeds makes it impossible for all their stories to be recognized by one event. NAR’s CARE Report found that 67% of REALTORS® volunteer in their community on a monthly basis.
To highlight the good work NAR members do throughout the year, the REALTORS® Are Good Neighbors team posts stories on Facebook and Instagram about these everyday heroes who make their communities better places through their volunteer efforts. Here are five of our favorite stories.
Carrie Lu, an agent with Signature Real Estate Group in Las Vegas, has always had a soft spot for cats. As a volunteer with a local vet surgery clinic, Lu saw firsthand how spaying and neutering can help control the stray cat population and alleviate animal suffering. Lu volunteers as a trapper, helping to corral the estimated 200,000 stray cats in Las Vegas and bring them in for sterilization. She also runs regular cat food drives to help support the volunteers who feed the local strays. So far, she’s donated 4,000 pounds of cat food. “This not only helps the homeless cats,” says Lu, “it also helps the people who care for them.”
A Heart for Service
Pedro Fuentes lost his family home in a fire when he was in sixth grade. After that devastating experience, he vowed to help others in times of crisis. Now an agent with Real in Dallas as well as a volunteer firefighter and EMT, Fuentes responds to 75 to 100 emergency calls each year in a service area that covers three counties in rural Texas. He has served his community in this capacity for the past 13 years. “I get to serve my community in more ways than one,” says Fuentes. “I use that same serving heart to serve my clients.”
Helping Foster Kids Sleep at Night
In Oklahoma, children who are taken into protective custody aren’t permitted to stay with family members unless a spare bed is present in the home. Unfortunately, some who wish to foster these children lack the funds to buy a new bed. Kristy Payne, an agent with Modern Abode Realty in Edmond, Okla., and a former foster parent, has stepped in to help. She and her husband founded Fostering Sweet Dreams, a nonprofit that has provided beds to 5,339 children in the Oklahoma foster care system. They have also provided car seats, high chairs and strollers. “I hated that people were having to turn down helping kids they knew and loved because they didn’t have financial means,” says Payne.
Millions for Cancer Research
Nearly 40% of the U.S. population will be diagnosed with cancer at some point in their lives, according to the National Cancer Institute. Sobering statistics like these led Amy Lindsay, an agent with NP Dodge Real Estate in Omaha, Neb., to found Kicks for a Cure with her husband. Since 2006, the nonprofit has raised more than $4 million for cancer research through youth soccer tournaments. The proceeds help two Omaha cancer centers. Though the fight for a cure is a hard one, Lindsay and her husband want to help as many people as they can. “We believe anything we can do to make a difference is important,” she says.
Horses Find New Purpose at Ranch
Alison Wheatley, associate broker at Wheatley Realty Group in Clermont, Fla., has rescued and rehabilitated more than 60 aging and sickly horses that now live at her DreamCatchers Horse Rescue. The 10-acre ranch, equipped with stables and a large clay riding area, also welcomes visitors of all ages who come to ride and volunteer with the horses. Young children, children with disabilities, neurodivergent children and retirees have all benefited from their time with the rescue’s equine residents. “These horses transform lives,” says Wheatley.