Hundreds of REALTORS® and community volunteers put on hair nets and gloves to cover various meal-packing shifts when Stillwater-based Meals from the Heart worked with the Saint Paul Area Association of REALTORS® (SPAAR) to bring attention to food insecurity while putting nearly 250,000 healthy meals on food shelves throughout the Twin Cities for those in need.
SPAAR’s focus is to create Better Agents and Better Communities, and one way to do this is through providing charitable grants to nonprofit organizations and charities that also work for the betterment of the people in their communities.
In fact, the REALTORS® Charitable Foundation is the charitable entity of the Saint Paul Area Association of REALTORS® and has existed since 1988.
“Being able to make a difference in the communities where we live and work is why so many of our SPAAR members invest time and energy to volunteer,” said Amy Peterson, a REALTOR® and president of the REALTORS® Charitable Foundation, which has provided numerous grants to charities and nonprofits within the 12-county jurisdiction of SPAAR. “REALTORS® throughout Minnesota are known for their community involvement and volunteerism. This is one of the many ways we can serve others.”
Another recent endeavor included SPAAR members volunteering for a day of labor at Lilydale Regional Park as part of the Great River Greening project that helped to restore multiple acres of river bluffs. Grant funding allowed for extensive buckthorn removal to prevent erosion and make room for planting 6,000 native flora plants. The project aligned nicely with SPAAR in that the Lilydale Regional Park sits within the heart of a robust real estate market, and this work is expected to help enhance the area’s real estate value.
The Rondo community also benefited from two grants, one in 2018 and one last year. The first grant to Rondo Avenue, Inc., helped the community to purchase an on-site property that will become a community gathering space and future Rondo museum. The building sits adjacent to the existing Rondo Commemorative Plaza and is well on its way to completion. The second grant to the Rondo Center of Diverse Expression will help to complete the building’s interior. The Rondo community was literally torn apart when construction of I-94 destroyed hundreds of homes and businesses in the heart of its neighborhoods. Decades later, REALTORS® and community leaders are working together to preserve the area’s history for future generations and expand opportunities for its residents.
“SPAAR has four key focus areas, called Pillars, that help the grant committee determine the recipients each year,” added Peterson, who has been a REALTOR® for 16 years. “Each grant application submission must include one or more of the Pillars, which are Communications, Advocacy, Community Engagement and Professionalism. These are the focuses of much of SPAAR’s work and offerings to its 7,300-plus members.”
The REALTORS® Charitable Foundation will be providing $100,000 in grants to the selected recipient(s) again in 2020. This year’s application deadline is April 1, 2020. Results will be shared in the summer. Interested to learn more? Go to realtorscharitable.org.