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Tours of Foreclosed Homes Help Fund Kids’ Charity

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RISMEDIA, July 8, 2008-(MCT)-As the brains behind the new and ever-growing Long Island Foreclosure Tours, RE/MAX broker-owner David Farrell sees more than one way to save communities.

“Bank-owned houses can become a blight on any neighborhood,” says his bus tour website, longislandforeclosuretours.com. “However, it takes more than foreclosed homes being purchased and maintained to keep our communities solid.”

That’s why the Mineola-based businessman will donate $5 out of every $50 ticket from buyers’ tours of foreclosed homes for sale to Hour Children, located in St. Rita’s Convent in Long Island City, where nuns run programs and care for children whose parents are in prison.

He got the idea after ditching suggestions to help pay mortgages of families in foreclosure, a venture that could eat up $3,000 a month for just one family, and applied the goodwill suggestions to the nonprofit.

In another life, Farrell appraised properties for the Roman Catholic Diocese of Brooklyn, but he never forgot being teary-eyed after his first visit 10 years ago to Hour Children. It’s in a tough area of Long Island City where young children live with the street reality of guns and drugs, yet inside the convent the nuns’ charges impressed him as they answered phones and helped at the thrift shop.

Farrell, sent to appraise the 12th Street convent for sale, ended up finding big donors to help the nuns buy the convent from the Brooklyn diocese. Since then, he’s suggested Hour Children to home sellers trying to donate their belongings before they move and he’s asked his agents to spread the word about the nuns who “reclaim kids from the streets.”

“They say they take care of the kids hour by hour,” Farrell said.

Hour Children has several missions. The nuns serve as surrogate parents to dozens of children at a time, from making sure they go to school to housing them. They visit the children’s parents in upstate prisons, mentoring and helping them get high school equivalency diplomas. When the parents get out, they live with their children in Hour Children housing, sometimes for years, as the nuns help them get jobs and survive.

“They’re the best-raised children you will meet in your life,” Farrell said. “You look at the whole thing and you’re like, ‘These people live in a different world.’ They live in a really tough ghetto, and there’s like this little pocket of perfection right in the middle of it.”

Farrell wants to raise $50,000 this year, and that might require a little talk with agents and other real estate industry experts who want to keep going on his foreclosure tours to close homes sales.

“As their checks come, they’re going to get a lot of gentle persuasion,” he said.

Copyright © 2008, Newsday, Melville, N.Y.
Distributed by McClatchy-Tribune Information Services.

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