Realtor® Good Neighbor Award Finalists Honored for Their Impactful Volunteer Work

WASHINGTON (August 30, 2018) – The National Association of Realtors® has honored 10 Realtors®, members of the National Association of Realtors®, as finalists for its 2018 Good Neighbor Awards. This award honors Realtors® who have made a positive impact on their communities through extraordinary volunteer service.

This year marks the 19th year the Good Neighbor Awards program has recognized Realtor® volunteers. The Realtors® being honored have donated their time, money and passion to enrich the lives of the people in their communities.

“This year’s 10 Good Neighbor finalists have raised the bar in building stronger communities at home and around the globe,” says NAR President Elizabeth Mendenhall, a sixth-generation Realtor® from Columbia, Missouri and CEO of RE/MAX Boone Realty. “They inspire and remind all of us about the true meaning of giving back and we are proud of these Realtors® for dedicating hundreds of hours of their personal time to these important causes.”

On October 2, five winners will be named from among the 10 finalists. Winners will receive a $10,000 grant and national media exposure for their efforts, including a feature in the November/December issue of REALTOR® Magazine. The winners will also receive travel expenses to the 2018 REALTORS® Conference & Expo in Boston, where they will accept an award in front of thousands of their peers. On October 2, the remaining five finalists will also be named honorable mentions and receive a $2,500 grant in recognition of their work.

The public is invited to vote for their favorites of the 10 finalists. The top three vote getters will win bonus grants of $2,500, $1,250 and $1,250, respectively, for their nonprofits. Last year's Web Choice Favorite voting program, which is sponsored by®, generated more than 93,000 votes. Cast your vote at between August 30 and September 28.

2018 Good Neighbor Award Finalists

The 10 Good Neighbor Awards finalists are:

Omayra Borges, San Juan, Puerto Rico

Borges cofounded the nonprofit Fundación Mochileando 100x35 after the destruction of Hurricane Maria. She focused on remote mountain villages, some of the hardest hit and most difficult to access, by delivering essentials like water and medicine, and repairing homes. She has raised $1.1 million and helped 45,000 people.

Chet Choman, Colorado Realty and Land Co., Alamosa, Colorado 

Choman cofounded 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 one out of every three people in the six-county area larger than Massachusetts.

Annette Evans, Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices New Jersey Properties, Livingston, New Jersey

Evans has spent 30 years as a volunteer board member at JESPY House, a nonprofit advancing independence for adults with disabilities. In that time, she has taken on multiple roles but most recently works as a parent advocate, helping them prepare for their adult children to age in place at JESPY House.

Necia T. Freeman, Old Colony REALTORS® of Huntington, Barboursville, West Virginia

Freeman founded the Backpacks & Brown Bags ministry to feed children who otherwise would not have stable food on the weekends and to assist opioid-addicted women, some of whom are the children's mothers. Her work can be seen in the Emmy- and Oscar-nominated 2017 documentary “Heroin(e).”

Richard L. Harris, Richard Harris & Associates, Inc., Palm Harbor, Florida

Harris is volunteer president of a $12 million nonprofit, The Arc Tampa Bay, which supports and empowers people of all ages with intellectual and developmental disabilities. His business and real estate expertise helped the organization reduce costs, increase annual revenue by $250,000, and invest wisely in order to enhance its reach in the community.

Michael LaFargue, Coldwell Banker Residential, Chicago, Illinois

LaFargue is a tenacious champion for communities, working in multiple nonprofits related to transportation, schools, neighborhoods and parks in effort to drive change in underserved areas of Chicago. He led an effort to install 40 neighborhood security cameras, which led to the arrest of suspects in the murder of a local judge. He also leads the Red Line Extension Coalition, which helps drive a $2 billion, 5.3-mile train route expansion that would benefit people in underserved areas.

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 in 25 schools.

Joy Nelson, Haugan Nelson Realty, Watertown, South Dakota

Nelson founded 126-acre Joy Ranch to share her love of open land and horses with others in her community. The fully ADA-accessible ranch is a place where people of any ability can go horseback riding and enjoy various other outdoor activities, without being limited by medical concerns. The ranch also provides equine therapy for kids and adults with disabilities and psychological challenges.

Jack Persin, Baird & Warner, Naperville, Illinois

Persin co-founded Naperville Responds for Veterans, a nonprofit that helps low and moderate-income veterans and their families live with dignity and remain in their home as they age. The nonprofit has helped nearly 200 veterans by making much-needed repairs, replacing aging systems and adding retrofits like wheelchair ramps to accommodate disabilities.

Elias Thomas III, Exit Key Real Estate, Shapleigh, Maine

For 40 years, Elias Thomas has volunteered with Rotary International, including leading volunteer trips to India to immunize 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 and has raised more than $350,000.

The National Association of Realtors®' Good Neighbor Awards is supported by primary sponsor® 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.®, the Home of Home Search℠, offers an extensive inventory of for-sale and rental listings, along with access to information, tools and professional expertise that help people move confidently through every step of their home journey. It pioneered the world of digital real estate 20 years ago, and today is the trusted resource for home buyers, sellers and dreamers by making all things home simple, efficient and enjoyable.

Wells Fargo is the nation’s leading originator and servicer 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 7,500 Home Mortgage Consultants across the country and robust digital capabilities, 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 the Good Neighbor Awards to recognize the extraordinary contributions made by Realtors® in the communities where we together live and serve.

The National Association of Realtors® is America’s largest trade association, representing 1.3 million members involved in all aspects of the residential and commercial real estate industries.


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