CHICAGO, IL – October 23, 2008 – (RealEstateRama) — Realtors® feel strongly about giving back to their communities, volunteering countless hours to people and organizations that need a helping hand. The five individuals that the National Association of Realtors® has named as this year’s REALTOR® Magazine Good Neighbor Awards recipients embody this extraordinary commitment to improving the lives of those around them, from enhancing children’s access to education and health care to reducing homelessness and supporting breast cancer care.
The 2008 Good Neighbor Award winners are Lei Barry, Keller Williams Real Estate, Blue Bell, Pa., Inter-Faith Housing Alliance and Hope Gardens; Scott and Robin Gwaltney, Coldwell Banker at Your Service Realty Ltd., Rochester, Minn., Rochester Better Chance; Reita Hutson, John Hall and Associates, Scottsdale, Ariz., Gabriel’s Dream Inc.; Caroline McCartney, GSH Real Estate Corp., Norfolk, Va., St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital; and Sheila Stevens, Prudential Georgia Realty, Suwanee, Ga., The Sport of Giving Inc.
“Realtors® play an important leadership role in building strong communities,” said NAR President Dick Gaylord, a broker with RE/MAX Real Estate Specialists in Long Beach, Calif. “These five Good Neighbor Awards winners exemplify the compassion and commitment of thousands of other Realtors who volunteer in their communities and help so many others. I’m pleased to honor these exceptional professionals.”
The Good Neighbor Awards have been awarded annually since 2000 and are presented by NAR’s REALTOR® Magazine. Winners will receive a $10,000 grant for their charity and a $2,000 Lowe’s gift card, and will be profiled in the November issue of REALTOR® Magazine, www.realtor.org/realtormag. The five winners will also receive a crystal trophy and the right to use the Good Neighbor Awards logo on their Web site and in promotional materials. The recipients will be presented with their awards at the 2008 REALTORS® Conference & Expo in Orlando, Fla., in November; 25,000 Realtors and guests are expected to attend the conference.
Lei Barry founded Inter-Faith Housing Alliance more than 20 years ago to help prevent low-income families from becoming homeless. Inspired by her own experience in the 1960s as a single mother with no place to live, Barry has worked to provide temporary housing for thousands of people through a network of more than 20 local churches and synagogues. In 1995, Barry raised $1.4 million to open Hope Gardens, which offers transitional housing for up to eight families at a time.
For 16 years, Scott and Robin Gwaltney have been unpaid resident house parents for up to six teenage boys at a time and have mentored 46 young men over the years. As volunteers for Rochester Better Chance, they help academically talented minority inner-city youth who might not otherwise succeed by taking them out of at-risk neighborhoods plagued by crime, drugs and weak schools. During the school year, selected students move away from their parents to live with the Gwaltneys, who help them focus on high school and prepare for college. The Gwaltneys act as surrogate parents by providing discipline and a nurturing environment, attending parent/teacher conferences and sporting events, and treating the students as they do their own two teenage children.
Reita Hutson founded Gabriel’s Dream Inc. after learning about the plight of the Lost Boys, refugees from Sudan’s civil war. Since 2003 she has helped more than 400 of these young men obtain apartments and furniture, job skills, health care and medical services, education and hope to start a new life. Hutson also recruited more than 100 dentists who have donated over $1 million in free dental care for these young men, whose five or six front teeth were pulled as part of a cultural ritual. She has awarded nearly 100 merit scholarships totaling $70,000 to the men.
Caroline McCartney has worked for 18 years to support St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, one of the world’s premier centers for research and treatment of children with cancer and other catastrophic diseases. The hospital takes all children regardless of their family’s ability to pay. McCartney raised millions of dollars for the organization over the years, culminating in a Dream Home Giveaway in 2007 that netted nearly $1 million.
Sheila Stevens is the founder and president of The Sport of Giving Inc., a community nonprofit that funds breast cancer treatment and prevention activities. Since 2000, The Sport of Giving has raised more than $1 million through annual tennis and golf tournaments, running events and other fundraisers. In 2007, the organization donated $215,000 to open a mammography screening center that has already provided nearly 5,000 mammograms and bone density screenings. The Sport of Giving also helped fund a mobile mammography van to reach women who would not otherwise have access to a mammogram.
Five other Realtors® have been recognized as Good Neighbor Awards honorable mentions; they will each receive $2,500 grants and a $1,000 Lowe’s gift card. They are Mary E. Bacon, Bob Parks Realty, LLC, Mt. Juliet, Tenn., Mt. Juliet Help Center; H. Burton Foster, Century 21 Gold Standard, East Aurora, N.Y., Matthew Foster Foundation; Victor Kee, Pete Anderson Realty Inc., Astoria, Ore., Sunday Supper and Sunday Meals on Wheels; John Neibarger, Key Properties, Realtors®, Johnstown, Ohio, Mary E. Babcock Library Inc.; and David Pap, Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage, Cambridge, Mass., Cambridge Housing Assistance Fund.
“The 2008 REALTOR® Magazine Good Neighbor Awards winners epitomize everything a volunteer should be – dedicated, generous, and passionate about their cause,” said NAR Vice President of Publications Pamela Geurds Kabati, REALTOR® Magazine’s editorial director. “We hope these Realtors inspire others around the country to give back to their communities.”
REALTOR® Magazine’s Good Neighbor Awards is sponsored by eNeighborhoods, which has supported the program since its inception in 2000, as well as Homes.com, Lowe’s and LandAmerica. A contribution also was made by Phil McGinnis, McGinnis Commercial Real Estate, Dover, Del.
Nominees were judged on their personal contribution of time, as well as financial and material contributions to their cause. To be eligible, nominees had to be NAR members in good standing. More information about the Good Neighbor Awards winners is available at www.realtor.org/realtormag.
eNeighborhoods (www.eneighborhoods.com) has been an NAR REALTOR® Benefits® Program partner offering unique marketing solutions to Realtors® since 2002. As the nation’s premier compiler of home and neighborhood information, this Dominion Enterprises company provides real estate professionals with a comprehensive set of marketing tools to deliver current and comprehensive information on local neighborhoods, demographics, schools and more.
Homes.com (www.homes.com), a division of Dominion Enterprises, is a leading provider of real estate marketing and media services, including brand advertising, property listing exposure, website development, search engine marketing and lead generation solutions. More than 4 million homebuyers visit Homes.com each month to search more than 1.8 million homes for sale, and to locate top local real estate professionals.
Lowe’s (www.lowes.com) has been working with customers to maintain and improve their homes for more than 60 years. Lowe’s is proud to help support the Good Neighbor Awards and similar community efforts through a partnership with Habitat for Humanity International and as underwriter for Habitat’s Women Build program. In 2006 and 2007 Lowe’s funded 52 Habitat builds nationwide. Lowe’s remains dedicated to educating future homeowners through Lowe’s Toolbox for Education program, which awarded $5 million in grants to nearly 1,000 public schools nationwide. Lowe’s and the National Association of Realtors® have partnered to bring Realtors® exclusive benefits to help build relationships with their customers, build referrals and build their client base. The benefits program is featured on www.LowesRealtorBenefits.com.
LandAmerica Financial Group Inc. (www.landam.com), based in Richmond, Va., is a leading provider of real estate transaction services with over 700 offices and a network of more than 8,500 active agents. LandAmerica serves agent, residential, commercial and lender customers throughout the United States, Mexico, Canada, the Caribbean, Latin America, Europe and Asia. LandAmerica has been ranked Number One in the Mortgage Services Industry on FORTUNE® magazine’s 2007 and 2008 lists of America’s Most Admired Companies.