5 REALTORS® Earn Funding, Mentorship to Grow Charities

From hosting the “world’s longest open house” for Alzheimer’s research to helping abuse survivors become cooks, find out how this year’s recipients of NAR’s Volunteering Works program plan to spread their impact.
Recipients of NAR's 2024 Volunteering Works program

The National Association of REALTORS® on Thursday named five recipients of its Volunteering Works program this year, members who have set out to multiply their charitable efforts in their communities and beyond. The Volunteering Works program, now in its 15th year, matches real estate professionals with mentors to improve and expand their charitable work.

“These Volunteering Works recipients are shining examples of the positive impact that real estate professionals make in their communities,” says NAR President Kevin Sears. “Their dedication, compassion and tireless efforts enhance the lives of those they serve and set a standard for community engagement.”

Each recipient receives $1,000 in grant money and a year of one-on-one mentoring from a member of the Good Neighbor Society, which is made up of past winners of NAR’s Good Neighbor Awards. Volunteering Works recipients are selected based on the potential for their community efforts to be expanded or improved upon with the help of a mentor.

This year’s Volunteering Works recipients are:

Arlin Fisher
Park Company, REALTORS®
Horace, N.D.
Crosses for Cameron

Arlin Fisher and his wife co-founded two nonprofit organizations in memory of their son, Cameron, who died in a car accident at age 23. Crosses for Cameron educates people about the importance of organ donation. The Garden of Healing, located within a park between two hospitals, was created to facilitate healing through nature. “Even though this garden stemmed from the loss of Cameron, we want it to be a place of life and living,” says Fisher, who was matched with mentor Craig Conant, a 2001 Good Neighbor Award winner.

Pam Graves
Summer House Realty
Fernandina Beach, Fla.
Stirring Hope, Inc.

When Pam Graves met Mary Apio—a former child bride who became a self-taught chef—while on a mission trip to Uganda, their backgrounds in food connected them. In 2021, Graves and Apio built Sonrisa School of Culinary Arts & Bakery, a cooking school to help other survivors of assault and forced child marriage build a new life. “After Mary told me her story, and we figured out we had cooking in common, I realized that this is where the lasting change comes in,” Graves says. In 2022, the school graduated 22 students. Graves’ mentor is Dawn Rucinski, a 2021 Good Neighbor Award finalist.

Kyle Olson
Keller Williams Inspire Realty
Fargo, N.D.
Alzheimer’s Association MNND Chapter

For 64 hours straight, Kyle Olson held an open house and raised $10,000 to combat Alzheimer’s, the disease his father, Dewey, suffered from. The third annual World’s Longest Open House—which featured hourly livestreams and activities, like “jazzercise” and chalk art—is more than a tribute to Olson’s father. It has become a bonding experience for Olson and his son, Tucker, who simultaneously hosted the Longest Lemon-aid Stand on-site for 12 hours on the first day of the open house. “It’s fantastic to go from working with my dad as a farmer and having those great memories to now having my son join me to do these fun things for a good cause,” says Olson, who was matched with 2013 Good Neighbor Award winner Kristina Rhodes.

Glenda Pollard
Pollard Partners, LLC
Baton Rouge, La.
Clean Pelican

Glenda Pollard founded Clean Pelican to improve and beautify Baton Rouge. The nonprofit engages local businesses, volunteers and the mayor’s office to organize clean-up days. Through innovative programming in schools, they use technology to teach middle and high school students to map areas that need cleanup, as well as track and store what was picked up and by whom. Pollard has been paired with mentor Tami Hicks, a 2022 Good Neighbor Award finalist. “I am looking forward to working with Tami to find ways to recruit more volunteers,” says Pollard.

Daphne Thomas
RE/MAX Alliance Group, LLC
Tampa, Fla.
Unbroken Dreams, Inc.

Daphne Thomas founded Unbroken Dreams in 2021 to address homelessness and help people rebuild their lives. She has connected hundreds of people with housing resources; runs a cold-weather shelter; provides necessities like food, warm clothing and blankets; and sometimes buys bus tickets to help reunite people with their families. “When people stumble upon rough times, such as homelessness or incarceration, their dreams tend to be forgotten—or broken,” says Thomas. “Unbroken Dreams believes that these dreams are attainable.” Thomas will work with mentor Debbie McCabe, a 2022 Good Neighbor Award finalist. 

The Volunteering Works program is sponsored by Wells Fargo Home Lending.