REALTOR Magazine Names 2008 Good Neighbor Finalists

REALTOR® magazine, the official publication of the NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS®, has announced the 10 finalists of its ninth annual Good Neighbor Awards.

The Good Neighbor Awards honors the ongoing volunteer efforts of REALTORS® who are making exceptional contributions to improve the quality of life in their communities. Finalists were selected based on the depth and impact of their volunteer contribution, the broadness of that impact, and their demonstrated leadership and initiative.

In October, five winners will be selected from among the 10 finalists and will receive travel expenses to the 2008 REALTORS Conference & Expo in Orlando in November, national media exposure for their community cause, and a $10,000 grant for their charity.

In addition to the winners, five honorable mentions will receive a $2,500 grant. The winners will be announced in the November issue of REALTOR magazine.

2008 Finalists

This year's finalists of REALTOR® Magazine’s Good Neighbor Awards are:

Mary E. Bacon, CRS, GRI, e-PRO

Bob Parks Realty, LLC, Mt. Juliet, Tenn., Mt. Juliet Help Center

The Mt. Juliet Help Center provides food and assistance to those in need. In 2006, after serving the community for decades, the center lost its lease and was forced to shut down. But Bacon knew the need for the center was great, so she located office space and manned the center herself for 6 months in a 10x12-foot room.

By 2007, Bacon had persuaded the community to donate land and a modular building to give the center a permanent home. Today, with Bacon as president, the center has two employees and serves 400 families a month with food and emergency assistance for utility bills, gas and prescription medicine.

Lei Barry, ABR, CRS, GRI, SRES

Keller Williams Real Estate, Blue Bell, Penn., Inter-Faith Housing Alliance

Barry founded Inter-Faith Housing Alliance more than 20 years ago to help prevent low-income families from becoming homeless. Inspired by her own experience in the 1960s as a single mother with no place to live, Barry has worked to provide temporary housing for thousands of people through a network of more than 20 local churches and synagogues.

In 1995, Barry raised $1.4 million to open Hope Gardens, offering transitional housing for eight families at a time. I-FHA also offers life skills; parenting and budget training; family therapy; an emergency help hotline and job counseling.

H. Burton Foster

Century 21 Gold Standard, East Aurora, N.Y., Matthew Foster Foundation

After losing his 17-year-old son to cancer, Foster decided to use his experience to help other families of children with the disease. In 1999 he created a foundation to help families relieve some of the financial burden that often occurs when a parent must stop working to care for a child undergoing cancer treatment.

The foundation pays for day-to-day non-medical expenses, such as mortgage payments, insurance copayments, wigs for children who have lost their hair as a result of treatment, and when necessary, funeral expenses. The foundation has helped 250 families with grants of up to $2,500 each. Another $2,500 is available for families who have funeral costs.

Scott and Robin Gwaltney

Coldwell Banker at Your Service Realty, Ltd., Rochester, Minn., Rochester Better Chance

For 16 years, the Gwaltneys have been unpaid resident house parents for up to six teenage boys at time; they’ve mentored a total of 45 young men over the years. As volunteers for Better Chance, they help academically talented minority inner-city youth who might not otherwise succeed by taking them out of at-risk neighborhoods plagued by crime, drugs and weak schools.

During the school year, students move away from their parents to live with the Gwaltneys so they can focus on high school and preparing for college. The Gwaltneys – who also were foster parents for 5 years – act as surrogate parents, providing discipline and a nurturing environment, attending their parent/teacher conferences and sports events, and treating them as they do their own two teenage children.

Reita Hutson

John Hall and Associates, Scottsdale, Ariz., Gabriel’s Dream, Inc.

Hutson founded Gabriel's Dream after learning about the plight of the Lost Boys, refugees from Sudan’s civil war. Since 2003 she has helped more than 400 young men start a new life in Arizona, helping them obtain apartments and furniture, job skills, health care and medical services, education and hope.

Hutson has recruited more than 100 dentists who have given over $1 million in free care for these young men whose five or six front teeth were pulled as part of a cultural ritual. She has awarded nearly 100 merit scholarships totaling $50,000. She is now working with Lost Boys to raise money to build a school in their village in Sudan.

Victor Kee, ABR, CRB, GRI

Pete Anderson Realty, Inc., Astoria, Ore., Sunday Supper and Sunday Meals on Wheels

For 16 years, Kee has run the Sunday Supper and Meals on Wheels program at Our Lady of Victory Church. He coordinates 120 volunteers from five local churches to cook, serve and deliver food to 175 homeless, low-income and elderly people per week. Kee plans the menus, orders and picks up food, cooks and recruits volunteers.

In December 2007, in the aftermath of a terrible storm that left the area without power and communications for six days, Kee led an effort to feed people affected by the storm, running his kitchen on generator power.

Caroline McCartney

GSH Real Estate Corp., Norfolk, Va., St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital

McCartney has worked for 16 years to support St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, one of the world’s premier centers for research and treatment of children with cancer and other catastrophic diseases. The hospital takes all children regardless of their families’ abilities to pay. McCartney, former president of the Southeastern Virginia Chapter of St. Jude’s, has led successful fundraising efforts for years, raising millions of dollars for the organization.

In 2007, McCartney chaired The Dream Home Giveaway, which raised an unprecedented $900,000. McCartney had one of the lowest cost ratios in the fundraiser’s history by securing donations for the land, materials, construction services, labor and furnishings and by selling 11,000 tickets at $100 each.

John Neibarger, GRI

Key Properties, REALTOR®, Johnstown, Ohio, Mary E. Babcock Library, Inc.

In 1996, Neibarger gathered a group of residents to share his vision of building a public library for their small town of 3,500 residents. Since no tax funds were available, Neibarger raised $1.8 million to fund the project, served as volunteer general contractor, and often pounded a hammer himself to complete construction. The 6,800-square-foot library opened in 2006 and now offers computer workstations, a children’s story hour and book clubs, and is a safe gathering place for local students.

Neibarger also led the restoration of an 1886 one-room schoolhouse into a living history museum and is currently leading a $1.1 million upgrade of the local high school stadium and locker rooms.

David Pap

Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage, Cambridge, Mass., Cambridge Housing Assistance Fund

Pap is co-founder and chair of the Cambridge Housing Assistance Fund, which helps homeless and near-homeless families by providing one-time grants and matching funds for rent, security deposits, and first and last months’ rent – funds that are difficult for working-poor families to save.

The average cost to help a family avoid eviction is $670, and can prevent families from ending up in the state shelter system, which can cost $37,000 per year. Since 1999, the organization has raised more than $1.2 million and helped more than 1,300 families remain in their homes.

Sheila Stevens

Prudential Georgia Realty, Suwanee, Ga., The Sport of Giving Inc.

Stevens is the founder and president of The Sport of Giving Inc., a community nonprofit that funds breast cancer treatment and prevention activities. Since 2000, The Sport of Giving has raised $800,000 through annual tennis and golf tournaments, running events and other fundraisers.

In 2007, the organization donated $215,000 to open a mammography screening center that has already provided nearly 5,000 mammograms and bone density screenings. The Sport of Giving also helped fund a mobile mammography van to reach women who would not otherwise have access to a mammogram.