WASHINGTON (October 5, 2023) – The National Association of Realtors® today announced the recipients of the 2023 Good Neighbor Awards. Celebrating its 24th year, these awards spotlight real estate agents who make an extraordinary impact on their communities through volunteer work. The winners exemplify a tireless commitment to serving their communities and working to make life better for people in their neighborhoods.
The 2023 Good Neighbor Award winners are as follows:
- Debbie Arakaki, Compass, Lahaina, Hawaii, major fundraiser for Maui Food Bank
- Karen DeMarco, Coldwell Banker Residential Realty, Tenafly, New Jersey, co-founder of The Food Brigade
- Kasia Maslanka, Douglas Elliman, Fort Lauderdale, Florida, co-founder of Morningday Community Solutions
- Sandra Shank, TAG Ventures Real Estate Services Co., Palm Coast, Florida, founder of Abundant Life Ministries–Hope House Inc.
- Anita Sherley and Jay Sherley, Big Sky Brokers LLC, Helena, Montana, founders of Life Houses Inc.
“As we honor this year’s Good Neighbor Awards recipients, we are reminded of the broader purpose that unites us in the real estate profession,” said NAR President Tracy Kasper, a Realtor® from Nampa, Idaho, and broker-owner of Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Silverhawk Realty. “Beyond sales and contracts, it’s the people, stories and shared dreams that matter. These winners are making a difference in communities and improving lives, underlining the true spirit of community engagement.”
Each of the five winners – selected by a multistage, criteria-based judging process – will receive a $10,000 grant for their charity and be featured in the fall 2023 issue of REALTOR® Magazine. NAR will formally present each with their award on November 15 during NAR NXT, the association’s annual conference that will take place in Anaheim this year.
More About Each Winner:
Debbie Arakaki, Compass, Lahaina, Hawaii
In the state with the nation's highest food costs, Debbie Arakaki has raised funds to provide more than one million meals through the Maui Food Bank. Since 2015, Arakaki has rallied the real estate community to host food drives, run fundraisers and volunteer for food-packing events. Now, in the aftermath of the Maui wildfires, she is amping up her efforts to help thousands of families who lost their homes. She and a group of other long-time Maui residents collaborated to create the Maui Pono Foundation to provide immediate funds to neighbors in need.
Learn more: https://nar.realtor/gna/debbie-arakaki
Karen DeMarco, Coldwell Banker Residential Realty, Tenafly, New Jersey
Karen DeMarco was inspired by her community’s support during her battle with breast cancer and decided to pay it forward. Within three years, DeMarco went from cooking meals in her kitchen to co-founding The Food Brigade, a food pantry network that has provided more than 1,700 tons of food to tens of thousands of people across three New Jersey counties.
Learn more: https://nar.realtor/gna/karen-demarco
Kasia Maslanka, Douglas Elliman, Fort Lauderdale, Florida
Kasia Maslanka co-founded Morningday Community Solutions to redirect overstocked or returned excess merchandise from retail businesses to nonprofits and people in need. Over 13 years, they have saved nonprofits $10 million in spending and diverted more than 400 tons of unused products from landfills each year.
Learn more: https://nar.realtor/gna/kasia-maslanka
Sandra Shank, TAG Ventures Real Estate Services Co., Palm Coast, Florida
In 2003, Sandra Shank opened Abundant Life Ministries–Hope House Inc. to give troubled teenage boys in Florida’s foster care system a supportive foundation. For 20 years, she has housed and mentored 300 of the most vulnerable residents, with current plans to break ground on an affordable housing complex offering holistic care services to families in need.
Learn more: https://nar.realtor/gna/sandra-shank
Anita and Jay Sherley, Big Sky Brokers LLC, Helena, Montana
Anita and Jay Sherley provide stable housing and mentoring to at-risk young men and women recently released from jail or too old for foster care, those typically at higher risks of homelessness. In the 16 years since they founded Life Houses Inc., the Sherleys have helped more than 200 at-risk young adults build life skills to transition to productive, goal-oriented lives of purpose.
Learn more: https://nar.realtor/gna/anita-and-jay-sherley
In addition to the winners, the following Realtors® have been recognized as Good Neighbor Awards honorable mentions and will each receive $2,500 grants for their charity:
- Betsy Brint, @properties, Highland Park, Illinois, Highland Park Community Foundation
- Rick Furnish, Landmark Realty & Development Co., Spearfish, South Dakota, America's Kids Belong and Hope Ranch
- Jed Nilson, Nilson Homes, Ogden, Utah, Northern Wasatch Association of REALTORS®’ Have a Heart Foundation
- Irene Sawyer, Keller Williams High Country, Boone, North Carolina, High Country Breast Cancer Foundation
- Steven Sharpe, Keller Williams Realty, Chattanooga, Tennessee, Camp Horizon
NAR’s Good Neighbor Awards is supported by primary sponsor Realtor.com® as well as the Center for REALTOR® Development.
In September, Realtor.com® invited the public to vote for their favorite of the 10 finalists. The top three vote-getters all received additional donations for their charities. The following Realtors® have been crowned as this year’s Web Choice Favorites:
- Anita and Jay Sherley, who will receive an additional $2,500 bonus donation for Life Houses Inc.
- Karen DeMarco, who will receive an additional $1,250 bonus donation for The Food Brigade.
- Debbie Arakaki, who will receive an additional $1,250 bonus donation for Maui Food Bank.
“This year’s Good Neighbor Award winners continue the tradition of raising the bar on what’s possible through giving back,” said Realtor.com® CMO Mickey Neuberger. “Their stories have moved us at Realtor.com®, and they’ve inspired everyone who voted for their Web Choice Favorite. We are honored to be long-time sponsors of the Good Neighbor Awards program.”
Realtor.com® is an open real estate marketplace built for everyone. Realtor.com® pioneered the world of digital real estate more than 25 years ago. Today, through its website and mobile apps, Realtor.com® is a trusted guide for consumers, empowering more people to find their way home by breaking down barriers, helping them make the right connections, and creating confidence through expert insights and guidance. For professionals, Realtor.com® is a trusted partner for business growth, offering consumer connections and branding solutions that help them succeed in today's on-demand world. Realtor.com® is operated by News Corp [Nasdaq: NWS, NWSA] [ASX: NWS, NWSLV] subsidiary Move, Inc. For more information, visit Realtor.com®.
The Center for REALTOR® Development (CRD), a wholly owned subsidiary of NAR, is devoted to lifelong learning, career advancement, and specialized credentials for real estate professionals. With 10+ designations and certifications, over 100 microcourses, learning pathways, an award-winning podcast, and educational events, there is a learning experience for every real estate professional. Learn more at crd.realtor.
The National Association of Realtors® is America’s largest trade association, representing more than 1.5 million members involved in all aspects of the residential and commercial real estate industries. The term Realtor® is a registered collective membership mark that identifies a real estate professional who is a member of the National Association of Realtors® and subscribes to its strict Code of Ethics.
# # #
Information about NAR is available at nar.realtor. This and other news releases are posted in the newsroom at nar.realtor/newsroom.