WASHINGTON (October 3, 2018) – Over the last 19 years, the Good Neighbor Awards has recognized Realtors® who make an incredible impact on their community – or the world – through selfless, dedicated volunteer work. The five individuals named this year’s National Association of Realtors® Good Neighbor Award winners serve as an example of how Realtors® strengthen communities by following their hearts and helping those in need.
The 2018 Good Neighbor Award winners are:
Omayra Borges, Reality Realty, San Juan, Puerto Rico, for Fundación Mochileando 100x35; Chet Choman, Colorado Realty and Land Co. Alamosa, Colorado, for La Puente Home Inc.; Jeremy Lichtenstein, RE/MAX Realty Services, Bethesda, Maryland, for Kids in Need Distributors; Joy Nelson, Haugan Nelson Realty, Watertown, South Dakota, for Joy Ranch; and Elias Thomas III, Exit Key Real Estate, Shapleigh, Maine, for Rotary International.
“This year’s Good Neighbors have inspired their communities and made a lasting impact by going the extra mile to help others in need,” says NAR President Elizabeth Mendenhall, CEO of RE/MAX Boone Realty in Columbia, Missouri. “These selfless individuals remind us all of the true meaning, and importance, of giving back to our communities.”
Each of the five winners – selected by a multi-stage, criteria-based judging process – will receive a $10,000 grant for their charity and will be featured in the November-December issue of REALTOR® Magazine. The recipients will also be presented with crystal trophies on Saturday, November 3, during the 2018 REALTORS® Conference & Expo in Boston.
Read the winner profiles and watch the videos at nar.realtor/gna or at the links below:
Omayra Borges, Reality Realty, San Juan, Puerto Rico
Borges co-founded nonprofit Fundación Mochileando 100x35, to bring hope after the destruction of Hurricane Maria. She focused on remote mountain villages, some of the regions hit hardest by last summer’s storm, delivering essentials like water and medicine and repairing homes across the island. She has raised $1.1 million and helped over 45,000 people in Puerto Rico. Fundación Mochileando 100x35
Chet Choman, Colorado Realty and Land Co., Alamosa, Colorado
Choman co-founded one of the first rural homeless shelters in the country and has dedicated 40 years to fighting homelessness and hunger. Today, La Puente Home is a 45-bed shelter that also operates after-school programs and 15 food pantries, serving about 16,000 people annually—that’s about one out of every three people in a six-county area larger than Massachusetts. lapuente.net
Jeremy Lichtenstein, RE/MAX Realty Services, Bethesda, Maryland
When Lichtenstein realized that thousands of children didn’t have enough to eat in his wealthy Washington, D.C., suburb, he sprang into action. The nonprofit organization Kids in Need Distributors (KIND) he founded in 2012 has grown from providing weekend food for 37 students at one public school to now serving some 2,100 children across 25 area schools. kindinmd.org
Joy C. Nelson, Haugan Nelson Realty, Watertown, South Dakota
Nelson founded Joy Ranch to create a home for underserved people, offering countless opportunities for recreation, therapy and education. The barrier-free, ADA-accessible ranch is a place where people of any ability can go horseback riding and enjoy other outdoor activities without being limited by medical concerns. joyranchsd.org
Elias Thomas III, GRI, Exit Key Real Estate, Shapleigh, Maine
For 40 years, Thomas has led The Rotary Foundation, organizing trips to India to immunize over 500 children against polio and build a system of dams to provide villagers with access to clean water. He has led more than 350 Rotarians from around the world on these trips, raising more than $350,000 along the way. rotary.org
In addition to the winners, five Realtors® have been recognized as Good Neighbor Award honorable mentions and will each receive $2,500 grants: Annette Evans, Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices New Jersey Properties, Livingston, New Jersey, 30-year board member for JESPY House Inc.; Necia T. Freeman, Old Colony REALTORS® of Huntington, Barboursville, West Virginia, founder of Backpacks & Brown Bags; Richard Harris, Richard Harris & Associates Inc., Palm Harbor, Florida, president of the Arc Tampa Bay; Michael LaFargue, Coldwell Banker Residential, Chicago, president of West Chesterfield Community Association; and Jack Persin, Baird Warner, Naperville, Illinois, co-founder of Naperville Responds for Veterans.
In September, the public voted for its favorite Good Neighbor Award finalist, crowning this year’s “Web Choice Favorites.” A total of 165,000 votes were cast. This year’s Web Choice Favorites are Michael LaFargue, who will receive an additional $2,500 bonus donation for the West Chesterfield Community Association and the Redline Extension, and Necia Freeman and Joy Nelson, who will each receive additional $1,250 bonus donations for Backpacks and Brown Bags and Joy Ranch. The Web Choice Favorite voting and bonus grants are courtesy of realtor.com®.
“The Realtors® recognized as Good Neighbors are outstanding examples of the commitment to community that’s so important in the real estate industry,” said realtor.com® CEO Ryan O’Hara. “Home is everything to us at realtor.com®, and that’s a value we share with each and every one of NAR’s members. Realtor.com® is proud to sponsor the Good Neighbor Awards program, and we look forward to continuing our long-standing partnership with the industry as we work together to make meaningful connections between consumers and Realtors®.”
NAR's Good Neighbor Awards is supported by primary sponsor realtor.com® and Wells Fargo Home Mortgage. 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.
The Good Neighbor Awards have been granted annually since 2000. More than $1.1 million in grants have been awarded to the winners’ charities. More information about the Good Neighbor Awards winners is available at www.nar.realtor/gna.
Wells Fargo Home Mortgage is one of the leading originators and servicers of residential mortgages, offering home loans to consumers through the country’s largest network of mortgage locations and bank branches, online, and via phone. With more than 6,000 Home Mortgage Consultants across the country, expanded digital capabilities, and products and programs for today’s market, Wells Fargo is committed to meeting Realtor® expectations and homebuyer needs. Focused on a culture of caring for communities, Wells Fargo is a proud sponsor of two NAR programs that recognize extraordinary contributions made by Realtors® in the communities where we, together, live and serve—the Volunteering Works mentoring program and the Good Neighbor Awards.
The National Association of Realtors® is America’s largest trade association, representing over 1.3 million members involved in all aspects of the residential and commercial real estate industries.