2011 Good Neighbor Winners Announced

For the past 12 years the Good Neighbor Awards program has recognized REALTORS® who are devoted to strengthening communities through volunteer work and helping those in need. The five individuals named as this year’s REALTOR® Magazine Good Neighbor Award winners are leading examples of how REALTORS® value service and are committed to improving communities.  

The 2011 Good Neighbor Awards winners are LeRoy J. Bendickson, Edina Realty, Edina, Minn., for National Multiple Sclerosis Society, Minnesota Chapter; Marta Karpiel, Alain Pinel REALTORS®, Carmel, Calif., for Freedom Fields USA; Vito A. Pampalona, Vito Anthony Homes, Rochester, Mich., for the Yellow Ribbon Fund; Judy Pitt, Wright Kingdom Inc., Boulder, Colo., for Kazi Yake (His Works); and Wayne J. Shaffer, Shaffer and Associates, Santa Cruz, Calif., for St. Francis Catholic Kitchen, Siena House Maternity Home, and Jesus Mary Joseph Home.

“The REALTORS® acknowledged through the Good Neighbor Awards program have graciously sacrificed personal time, money and effort to help improve the quality of life for others,” said National Association of REALTORS® President Ron Phipps, broker-president of Phipps Realty in Warwick, R.I. “Despite tough economic times these five winners have remained devoted to helping others whether in their own neighborhood or across the globe. I am proud to help them grow their efforts so they can continue the good work they do.” A past Good Neighbor Award recipient himself, Phipps was recognized in 2001 for his work with the Tomorrow Fund.

The Good Neighbor Awards have been granted annually since 2000 and are presented by NAR’s REALTOR®Magazine. Winners receive a $10,000 grant for their charity and a $2,000 Lowe’s gift card, and are profiled in the November-December issue of REALTOR® Magazine. The recipients will be presented with crystal trophies on Saturday, November 12, at the 2011 REALTORS® Conference & Expo in Anaheim; 18,000 REALTORS® and guests are expected to attend the conference.

For more than 20 years, LeRoy J. Bendickson has led bike teams to raise money for the National Multiple Sclerosis Society, Minnesota Chapter. In 2011, his “Real Estate Riders” team of 250 riders rode the two-day, 150-mile race and raised $146,000. Bendickson recruits riders from across the state, coordinates their training, obtains sponsors, organizes lodging and transportation for his team and provides a hospitality tent with food and entertainment after the race. Since he began, his teams have raised nearly $1 million.

Marta Karpiel’s personal donations have helped remove more than 350 landmines in Cambodia through the nonprofit, Freedom Fields USA. She developed a successful fundraising tool in the form of a map that lets donors choose the parcels of land that they are funding to clear, which has raised more than $250,000. She also handles all the marketing and promotion for the organization and secured a $50,000 grant from the U.S. State Department. Karpiel raised money to build a school on cleared land and provide backpacks, books and supplies for 200 children.

As a Vietnam veteran, Vito A. Pampalona has supported patients at the Walter Reed Army Medical Center since 2003. “Uncle Vito,” as he is known, created a book, video, and audio library and snack pantry for patients and their families. He also provides new clothes for patients to wear instead of hospital gowns and holds an annual Christmas party with generous gifts for patients, families and staff. Since 2003 he has raised or donated $500,000 to benefit wounded veterans. Pampalona is also national chair of the Yellow Ribbon Fund Ambassador program, which helps welcome injured soldiers home.

Judy Pitt founded Kazi Yake in 2008 after years of taking mission trips to Kenya to address the need for clean water and hygiene. Twice a year, Pitt takes teams of up to 20 volunteers to provide water filters, train midwives and teach farmers how to increase their crop yields. This past September, she travelled to Kenya to open a well that now brings clean water to 10,000 people in a rural village. She is raising money to build a medical clinic and plans to move to Kenya permanently one day to continue her work full time.

For more than three decades, Wayne J. Shaffer has been serving the poor and homeless of Santa Cruz, Calif. He is cofounder and president of St. Francis Catholic Kitchen, where he has volunteered since 1982. He went on to cofound Jesus Mary Joseph Home, a shelter for women and children. And in 2000, after meeting a soup kitchen client who was pregnant and living in her car, he founded Siena House Maternity Home, which provides emergency shelter, pre- and post-natal care, parenting skills, training and counseling for women experiencing a crisis pregnancy.

In addition to the winners, five REALTORS® have been recognized as Good Neighbor Award honorable mentions; they will each receive $2,500 grants and a $1,000 Lowe’s gift card. They are Robin Bahr, Coldwell Banker Riviera Real Estate, Bayville, N.J., for Patti’s Prom Project to benefit the American Cancer Society; Elizabeth “Beth” Fernandez, Marron Gildea REALTORS®, Ridgewood, N.J., for Glen Rock Poverty Awareness Project; Christian C. Klueg, CMK and Associates, Real Estate, Northville, N.Y., for The Pink Chicken; Mark Meinhardt, Star One REALTORS®, West Chester, Ohio, for Sophie’s Angel Run; and Lynn H. Reecer, Reecer Properties, Inc., Fort Wayne, Ind., for Aboite New Trails (now Fort Wayne Trails).

“The Good Neighbor Awards honor REALTORS® who are leaders in their community,” said Frank Sibley, REALTOR® Magazine publisher. “This year’s winners have literally saved lives, and inspire those around them to make positive changes in the world. We hope this award and the grant money will help these REALTORS® in continued support of their causes.”

REALTOR®Magazine’s Good Neighbor Awards is sponsored by Lowe’s and HouseLogic. Nominees were judged on their personal contribution of time, financial and material contributions to their cause. To be eligible, nominees had to be NAR members in good standing.

Lowe’s(www.lowes.com) has worked with customers to maintain and improve their homes since 1946. Lowe’s is proud to support the Good Neighbor Awards.  Lowe’s is a proud supporter of Habitat for Humanity International, American Red Cross, SkillsUSA/SkillsCanada, and The Nature Conservancy, in addition to numerous nonprofit organizations and programs that help communities in North America. In 2010, Lowe’s and the Lowe’s Charitable and Educational Foundation together contributed more than $30 million to support community and education projects in North America. Lowe’s also encourages volunteerism through the Lowe’s Heroes program, a company-wide employee volunteer initiative. Lowe’s, a proud partner in NAR’s REALTOR Benefits® Program, brings REALTORS® exclusive benefits to help build relationships with their customers, generate referrals and expand their client base.  The benefits program is featured on www.LowesRealtorBenefits.com.

HouseLogic (www.houselogic.com) is a free source of information and tools from the National Association of REALTORS® that can help homeowners make smart and timely decisions about their home. With content covering home improvement, maintenance, taxes, finance, insurance, and even ways to get involved in and enrich their community, HouseLogic can help homeowners increase and protect the value of their home by helping them make confident decisions.

The National Association of REALTORS®, “The Voice for Real Estate,” is America’s largest trade association, representing 1.1 million members involved in all aspects of the residential and commercial real estate industries.