WASHINGTON (September 30, 2015) — Over the last 16 years, the Good Neighbor Awards have recognized Realtors® from across the nation who dedicate countless volunteer hours to improve the lives and wellbeing of their neighbors. The five individuals named as this year's REALTOR® Magazine Good Neighbor Award winners embody this incredible commitment to helping those around them and serve as an example of how Realtors® build and strengthen communities.
The 2015 Good Neighbor Award winners are Daniel L. Goodwin, The Inland Real Estate Group Inc., Oak Brook, Ill., for founding New Directions Housing Corp.; Nancy E. Hines, F.C. Tucker Co. Inc., Avon, Ind., for cofounding Ovar'coming Together, Inc.; John Kersten, Century 21 Town & Country, Utica, Mich., for raising $15 million for Easter Seals Michigan; Barbara Mills, RE/MAX Realty One, Inverness, Fla., for founding Operation Welcome Home; Susan Stearns, Berkshire Hathaway, California Properties, Calabasas, Calif., for serving New Horizons for 30 years.
"This year's Good Neighbor Award winners work tirelessly to increase the quality of life for so many individuals and families, while also enriching communities across the country," says National Association of Realtors® President Chris Polychron, executive broker of 1st Choice Realty in Hot Springs, Ark. "The passion, dedication and commitment shared by this year's winners serve as an inspiration to us all."
Each of the five winners will receive a $10,000 grant for their charity and will be featured in the November/December issue of REALTOR® Magazine. The recipients will be presented with crystal trophies on Saturday, Nov. 14, during the 2015 REALTORS® Conference & Expo in San Diego.
The Good Neighbor Awards have been granted annually since 2000 and are presented by NAR's REALTOR® Magazine. More than $1 million in grants have been awarded to the winners' charities since the inaugural award.
Daniel L. Goodwin founded the New Directions Housing Corp., a nonprofit that provides affordable housing for low-income residents. Since 1994, NDHC has built or rehabbed nearly 500 multifamily units throughout Illinois. The nonprofit partners with other groups to provide residents with services such as Meals on Wheels, after-school programs, free flu shots and other recreational activities. Goodwin has also served on the board of the Illinois Housing Development Authority Trust Fund and chaired the first Affordable Housing Task Force for DuPage County.
As a four-time cancer survivor, Nancy Hines has been a source of support, hope and encouragement to countless women. In 1996, she cofounded Ovar'coming Together Inc. with two women she met while they were all undergoing treatment for ovarian cancer. Since then, the organization has raised $2 million to increase awareness about ovarian cancer symptoms and early diagnosis, support survivors and caregivers and fund research. Hines played a key role in founding the Ovarian Cancer National Alliance and has served on the board of the Indiana health department's Office of Women's Health for 10 years.
For 23 years, John Kersten has volunteered his time and talent raising funds for Easter Seals Michigan. He started out organizing rubber duck races but quickly found a way to maximize fundraising by using his business and marketing skills. Today he runs six annual car and cash raffles, which net more than $1 million a year. The $15 million he has raised over the years supports children and adults with disabilities, including the Miracle League baseball team for children with disabilities and the Agrability program, which serves farmers with injuries, illnesses, or aging conditions.
Barbara Mills started Operation Welcome Home in 2007 to honor soldiers as they return from Iraq or Afghanistan. A military mother herself, she has raised more than $200,000 to hold welcome-home parties for nearly 500 veterans and National Guardsmen and provides baskets of gift cards for food, gas and shopping. She often provides additional services to help the soldiers; for example, she recently helped rehab a home for a veteran who was living in an unfinished structure. She also organizes trips for Honor Flight so that area World War II veterans can visit the memorial in Washington, D.C.
For 30 years, Susan Stearns has volunteered with New Horizons, a nonprofit that provides group home and independent living support, employment services and educational and recreational programming to 1,000 adults with intellectual disabilities. Serving on the board for 10 years, Stearns founded several fundraising events that have raised more than $2.5 million. As ambassador and advocate for the nonprofit, she has recruited many volunteers, board members and donors.
In addition to the winners, five Realtors® have been recognized as Good Neighbor Awards honorable mentions and will each receive $2,500 grants: George Demchak, Kissinger Bigatel & Brower, Realtors®, State College, Penn., founder of Punkin Chunkin' to benefit the local volunteer firefighters; George S. Lucas, Harbor Country, Union Pier, Mich., president of Chikaming Open Lands; Ida M. Petkus, Keller Williams, Medford, N.J., founder of Domestic Violence Advocacy Center; Dona Reynolds, Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Stein & Summers Real Estate, St. Joseph, Mo., founder of the Mark Reynolds Memorial Bike Fund; and Stephen L. Seidl, Seidl & Associates, a division of ShoreWest, Realtors®, Green Bay in Green Bay, Wis., for cofounding Miracle League of Green Bay.
During the month of September, the public could cast votes for the one of the 10 Good Neighbor Award finalists to be named the Web Choice Award winner. The Good Neighbor with the most votes was John Kersten, who will receive an additional $1,000 bonus donation for Easter Seals Michigan, courtesy of realtor.com®.
REALTOR® Magazine's Good Neighbor Awards is supported by primary sponsor Liberty Mutual Insurance and realtor.com®. Nominees were judged on their personal contribution of time as well as financial and material contributions to benefit their cause. To be eligible, nominees must be NAR members in good standing. More information about the Good Neighbor Awards winners is available at www.nar.realtor/gna.
Liberty Mutual Insurance (www.libertymutual.com/nar/) is one of the world's leading and most trusted insurance carriers. For more than 100 years, their mission has been to provide comprehensive, quality insurance products that help their customers live safer, more secure lives. Liberty Mutual has worked hard to develop personal insurance programs that provide long-term benefits to their customers, and constantly strives to improve their products and services. Equally important, is their legacy of working for the public good through philanthropy, safety research, and educational outreach. For that reason, Liberty Mutual is proud to be the 2015 primary sponsor of REALTOR® Magazine's Good Neighbor Awards, expanding their partnership with the National Association of Realtors®. For more than a decade, as part of the REALTOR Benefits® Program, Liberty Mutual has been NAR's exclusive partner for auto, home and renters insurance. Through this program NAR members are eligible to receive special savings and insurance benefits.
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