Turning Vision Into Action

Meet the five REALTORS® named as recipients in the Volunteering Works program for 2012.

Mentorship isn't just for business—it can also bring a powerful boost to community service work. That’s the point behind Volunteering Works, a program started four years ago by REALTOR® Magazine and the Good Neighbor Society.

In late May, five REALTORS® were named as recipients in the Volunteering Works program. They each receive a $1,000 grant to support their budding charitable efforts. And they’re assigned a mentor, a past winner of the magazine’s Good Neighbor Awards.

Past Volunteering Works recipients say the helping hand can be considerable.

"My mentor [2001 Good Neighbor honoree Craig Conant of Key Realty in Warrensberg, Mo.] was unbelievably proactive, walking me through several fund-raising ideas and being a source of support and positivity through challenges," says Casey Stallone, a 2011 recipient and a practitioner with Prudential Utah Elite Real Estate, in Orem, Utah. Her nonprofit, Our Legacy Vision, supports single and divorced fathers. "Volunteering Works enabled me to network with incredible individuals who have a similar passion for living life in the service of others," says Stallone, whose foundation, among other activities, provided nine single fathers and their children fully decorated Christmas trees last year.

Volunteering Works is funded by The Stuart & Jill Siegel Charitable Foundation.

The 2012 Volunteering Works mentoring & grant recipients are:

John C. Hallis, Keller Williams Select, REALTORS®, Ellicott City, Md.
Hallis coordinates colleagues who—as part of Keller Williams' national Red Day—volunteer for Open Door Baltimore (www.opendoorbaltimore.org). The volunteers serve 1,200 Baltimore children, stocking food banks, renovating schools, and helping parents secure jobs. His goals: Obtain 501(c)(3) status, gain access to grant money, and find other funding sources. His mentor: LeRoy J. Bendickson, Edina Realty, Edina, Minn., 2011 Good Neighbor winner and long-time fund-raiser for the National Multiple Sclerosis Society, Minnesota Chapter.

Rick Jessen, ABR, SRF, Prudential Montana Real Estate, Missoula, Mont.
Jessen started Home Again (www.homeagainmissoula.com), which provides furniture, bedding, appliances, and other essentials to people moving from a transitional housing into permanent housing. His goals: Learn to build a stronger network of volunteers and implement an effective fund-raising strategy. His mentor: David Philp, Coldwell Banker Burnet, Chaska, Minn., 2010 Good Neighbor winner and master fund-raiser for Ridgeview Medical Center in Waconia.

Wanda Klor, CIPS, CRS, GRI, SRES, Realty World Wanda Klor & Associates, San Jose, Calif.
Klor founded Portera Celebration (www.PorteraCCC.com), an annual summer event that benefits four local charities—Second Harvest Food Bank, Career Closet, Community Health Partnership, and Sacred Heart Community Services. Her goals: Obtain 501(c)(3) status, recruit more volunteers, and implement new fund-raising strategies. Her mentor: James T. Elcock, Elcock Properties, St. Charles, Mo., 2010 Good Neighbor and founder of Kids Against Hunger, Metro St. Charles/St. Louis.

Penny O. Kovakas, GRI, Kovakas Realty Inc., Westover, Ala.
Kovakas renovated a home to use as a food pantry to serve the hungry in Shelby County, Ala. The Kovakas Food Pantry provides food and household essentials to more than 45 families. Her goals: Find new ways to reach out to contributors, gain public awareness, and increase fund-raising. Her mentor: Retired real estate practitioner Carole Sharp, 2005 Good Neighbor, who continues to run a food pantry in Staunton, Ill., a small town outside of St. Louis.

Jennifer D. Wiles, SFR, Real Estate Showcase, Wooster, Ohio
Wiles is a founding member of the Golden Bear Brigade (www.goldenbearbrigade.org), which assists military members and their families through a support group, sending care packages, and setting up parades. Her goals: Expand the organization, retain volunteers, upgrade the Web site, and improve fundraising strategies. Her mentor: Wendy Rocca, Keller Williams Realty, Newton Highlands, Mass., 2010 Good Neighbor and cofounder with her husband, John, of Operation American Soldier, which sends care packages to thousands of soldiers overseas.

The 2012 Good Neighbor Award winners will be announced in the November/December issue of REALTOR® Magazine. To learn more, visit the Good Neighbor program home page.