CHICAGO, IL—The National Association of Realtors and the Good Neighbor Society have announced recipients of the 15th annual Volunteering Works grants and mentoring program. The program matches real estate agents who work on small-scale charitable efforts with mentors who can help them improve and expand their impact.
The five Volunteering Works recipients will each receive a $1,000 seed grant and a year of one-on-one mentoring from a member of the Good Neighbor Society. This group is made up of past recipients of NAR’s annual Good Neighbor Awards, the highest honor the association awards to members involved in community service.
“These Volunteering Works recipients are shining examples of the positive impact that real estate professionals make in their communities,” said NAR President Kevin Sears, broker-partner of Sears Real Estate in Springfield, Massachusetts. “Their dedication, compassion and tireless efforts enhance the lives of those they serve and set a standard for community engagement. They will not only grow their initiatives but inspire others to take meaningful action.”
2023 Volunteering Works Grant and Mentoring Recipients:
Arlin Fisher, Park Company REALTORS®, Horace, North Dakota (Crosses for Cameron)
Realtor® Arlin Fisher and his wife co-founded two nonprofit organizations in memory of their son who died in a car accident at age 23. Crosses for Cameron educates people about the importance of organ donation. The Garden of Healing, located within a park between two hospitals, was created to facilitate healing through nature. “Even though this garden stemmed from the loss of Cameron, we want it to be a place of life and living,” said Fisher, who is working with mentor Craig Conant, a 2001 Good Neighbor Award winner.
Pam Graves, Summer House Realty, Fernandina Beach, Florida (Stirring Hope, Inc.)
When Realtor® Pam Graves met Mary Apio – a former child bride turned self-made chef – while on a mission trip to Uganda, it was their backgrounds in food that connected them. In 2021, Graves and Apio built Sonrisa School of Culinary Arts & Bakery, a cooking school to help other survivors of assault and forced child marriage build a new life. “After Mary told me her story, and we figured out we had cooking in common, I realized that this is where the lasting change comes in,” Graves said. In 2022, the school graduated 22 students. Graves’ mentor is Dawn Rucinski, a 2021 Good Neighbor Award finalist.
Kyle Olson, Keller Williams Inspire Realty, Fargo, North Dakota (Alzheimer’s Association MNND Chapter)
For 64 hours straight, Realtor® Kyle Olson held an open house and raised $10,000 to combat Alzheimer’s – the disease that robbed him of more time with his father, Dewey. The third annual World’s Longest Open House – which featured hourly livestreams and events like jazzercise and chalk art – is more than a tribute to Olson’s father. It has turned into a bonding experience for Olson and his son, Tucker, who simultaneously hosted the Longest Lemon-aid Stand on-site for 12 hours on the first day. “It’s fantastic to go from working with my dad as a farmer and having those great memories to now having my son join me to do these fun things for a good cause,” said Olson, who will be mentored by 2013 Good Neighbor Award winner Kristina Rhodes.
Glenda Pollard, Pollard Partners LLC, Baton Rouge, Louisiana (Clean Pelican)
Realtor Glenda Pollard founded Clean Pelican to improve and beautify Baton Rouge. The nonprofit engages local businesses, volunteers and the mayor’s office to organize cleanup days. Through innovative programming in schools, they use technology to teach middle- and high-school students to map areas that need cleanup, and track and store what was picked up and by whom. Pollard has been paired with mentor Tami Hicks, a 2022 Good Neighbor Award finalist. “I am looking forward to working with Tami to find ways to recruit more volunteers,” said Pollard.
Daphne Thomas, RE/MAX Alliance Group, LLC, Tampa, Florida (Unbroken Dreams, Inc.)
Realtor Daphne Thomas founded Unbroken Dreams in 2021 to address homelessness and help people rebuild their lives. She has connected hundreds of people with housing resources; runs a cold-weather shelter; provides necessities like food, warm clothing and blankets; and sometimes buys bus tickets to help reunite people with their families. “When people stumble upon rough times, such as homelessness or incarceration, their dreams tend to be forgotten – or broken,” said Thomas. “Unbroken Dreams believes that these dreams are attainable.” Thomas will work with mentor Debbie McCabe, a 2022 Good Neighbor Award finalist.
Volunteering Works recipients were selected based on devotion to their communities through volunteer endeavors and the potential for their good works to be expanded or improved with the help of an expert mentor. The Volunteering Works program is made possible thanks to the generous support of Wells Fargo Home Lending.
“Congratulations to all of the Volunteering Works mentoring recipients,” said Arlene Maloney, divisional sales manager for the North Pacific/Midwest division for Wells Fargo Home Lending. “We are once again proud to sponsor this great mentoring program, celebrating agents who have made a difference in their communities and want to do more.
“At Wells Fargo, we share their passion for building a sustainable, inclusive future for all and hope the grant for their charitable organizations can help further their work. We are happy to be a part of the great things these recipients are doing.