REALTOR® Magazine, the official publication of the NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS®, has announced the five recipients of its sixth 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. Winners were selected based on the depth and impact of their volunteer contribution, the broadness of that impact, and their demonstrated leadership and initiative. More than 300 nominations--an all-time high--were considered this year.
The 2005 winners of REALTOR® Magazine’s Good Neighbor Awards are:
David C. Forward, Weichert, REALTORS®, Medford, N.J., who founded the International Children’s Aid Foundation, which supports more than 200 orphans in Romania.
Howard G. Freeman, Freeman Realty Inc., Gainesville, Fla., who founded STOP! Children’s Cancer in 1981 and has raised more than $2 million for research to prevent, treat and cure cancer in children.
Greg Garrett, greggarrettrealty.com, Newport News, Va., who in 2000 founded Orphan Helpers which has raised more than $1 million to support children in orphanages and detention centers in El Salvador and Honduras.
Carole E. Sharp, Coldwell Banker Neuhaus Real Estate, Staunton, Ill., who almost single-handedly runs the Staunton Food Pantry in a small town outside St. Louis.
Ouida Spencer, RE/MAX Executives Inc., Atlanta, who for 25 years has actively volunteered with the United Cerebral Palsy of Georgia as a leader, fundraiser and advocate for the housing rights of the disabled.
Each of the five winners will receive a $7,500 grant for their community project, a crystal trophy, and the right to use the Good Neighbor Awards logo on their Web site and promotional materials. The recipients and a guest also will be sent, expenses paid, to the 2005 REALTORS® Conference & Expo in San Francisco in November, where they will receive their awards in front of an audience of 6,000.
Winners, in More Detail
Fourteen years ago, David Forward founded the International Children’s Aid Foundation, which currently supports more than 200 orphans in Romania. ICAF built and operates its own orphanage, Casa Emanuel, which the Romanian government has called “the finest childcare facility in the country” and also assists state-run orphanages through early childhood education programs. ICAF provides job-training and life skills classes for teenage street kids and orphans who will be released from state care at age 18. Forward has escorted more than 60 volunteer trips to Romania since 1991, often bringing doctors, dentists, physical therapists, and teachers to apply their skills to the crushing needs of Romania’s orphans. He also set up medical and dental clinics, and opened a printing business to provide jobs to some of the orphans as they enter adulthood.
Howard Freeman founded STOP! Children’s Cancer in 1981, when his daughter, Bonnie, was diagnosed with leukemia, and he has since raised more than $2 million to help prevent, treat, and cure cancer in children. Most of his donations—including more than $350,000 in 2004 alone—support research and purchase equipment for the divisions of Pediatric Hematology/Oncology, Pediatric Neuro-oncology, and the Brain Institute at the University of Florida College of Medicine. In 2003, STOP! committed $100,000 a year for 10 years to fund additional research grant applications and has built up a $600,000 legacy fund to fund pediatric cancer research in perpetuity. Today, more than 80 percent of children diagnosed with acute lymphocytic leukemia, the disease that killed Bonnie, are cured.
Greg Garrett founded Orphan Helpers to support children in orphanages and detention centers around the world. Currently working at 12 orphanages in El Salvador and Honduras, the organization provides food, shelter, education, and hope to more than 1,000 children. Orphan Helpers hires teachers and caregivers—who often outnumber government-provided staff by three to one—and donates food, clothing, books and toys. The group also partners with local churches and even the military to build, repair and upgrade facilities. Garrett has led 14 trips of volunteers and donors to the orphanages and has helped raise more than $1 million since 2000. The organization will be expanding into Nicaragua and Guatemala in 2006.
Carole Sharp runs the Staunton Food Pantry, which serves more than 60 families a month, up from 15 when she started eight years ago. Unlike larger communities, Staunton, a town of 5,000 people outside of St. Louis, has few national charities for support. Nevertheless, the Staunton Food Pantry has become a model charity in an area where other food pantries have failed. Except for weekly food distributions, Sharp handles the entire operation by herself. She applies for grants and secures corporate sponsors, writes articles for local papers, sorts and inspects all food donations, stocks the shelves—often shopping for needed items herself—and plans food drives through schools, scout troops and churches year round. Sharp acknowledges every donation with a handwritten personal thank-you note.
For more than 25 years, Ouida Spencer has actively volunteered with the United Cerebral Palsy of Georgia, which serves people with developmental disabilities also including Down syndrome, spina bifida, mental retardation, epilepsy and autism. During her tenure, UCP, which has an annual budget of more than $17.5 million, has grown from serving 100 people in Atlanta to providing daily services to more than 1,000 individuals in Georgia and the Carolinas. Spencer, UCP of Georgia’s current chair, is a tireless advocate for housing rights of the disabled, traveling throughout the region to identify suitable single-family homes where three or four adults will be able to live full lives with the help of UCP care providers. She raised more than $100,000 last year, and has helped establish six day-habilitation locations, which provide life skills training, dexterity therapy, job training and employment mentoring.
Good Neighbors Are Role Models
NAR President Al Mansell of Salt Lake City said he is proud that the Good Neighbor Awards give NAR the opportunity to honor some of the many REALTORS® who give of themselves to improve the lives of other people. “These Good Neighbor Award winners are an inspiration, not only to the 1 million plus members of the National Association of REALTORS®, but also to everyone who cares about helping others. They demonstrate what an enormous impact one person can have to make a difference in the world.”
“REALTOR Magazine’s 2005 Good Neighbor Award winners have made tremendous contributions to their communities—some help out close to home, others fill a need in the global community,” said NAR Vice President of Publications Pamela Geurds Kabati, who is REALTOR® Magazine’s Editorial Director. “Their stories move and deeply inspire all of us and exemplify the spirit of community service that is typical of REALTORS®. We’re proud that the Good Neighbor Awards help shine a spotlight on the can-do, service-oriented spirit of REALTORS®.”
REALTOR® Magazine’s Good Neighbor Awards is sponsored by eNeighborhoods Inc.—which has supported the program since its inception—Fannie Mae, and LandAmerica.
“As founding sponsor of the Good Neighbor Awards, I get energized by what REALTORS® are accomplishing at the grassroots level to help others,” says Stu Siegel, CEO of eNeighborhoods Inc., who also personally contributes to the program through his family’s charitable foundation. “What I find most incredible about Good Neighbor Award recipients is the amount of personal time they devote to their projects and how they unanimously feel that they would be less successful if they weren’t integrating volunteer work into their day-to-day businesses. These people are truly role models for all REALTORS®.”
Nominees were judged on their level of personal contribution of time, as well as financial and material contributions to benefit their cause. To be eligible, nominees had to be members in good standing of NAR.
In addition to the winners, five Good Neighbor honorable mentions will receive $1,500 grants. They areCharlotte Esarey, Buck & Buck Inc., Realtors®, Jacksonville, Fla., Ft. Caroline Christian Church; Marla S. Johnson, Maryland Real Estate Group Inc., Frederick, Md., Spectrum Support Inc.; Pam Kiker, The Kiker Team, Keller Williams Realty, Englewood, Colo., The Adoption Exchange; Robert Thomson, Waterfront Properties and Club Communities, Jupiter, Fla., Charities for Children; Jeanne Williams-Livesay, William E. Wood & Associates, Chesapeake, Va., Portsmouth Volunteers for the Homeless Inc. Read more about the honorable mentions.