The National Association of Realtors® has selected 10 individuals as finalists for REALTOR® Magazine’s 2015 Good Neighbor Awards. This award honors REALTORS® who volunteer in their communities, improve the quality of life for their neighbors and go above and beyond in their commitment to making their neighborhoods better places to live.
This year marks the 16th year the Good Neighbor Awards program has recognized REALTOR® volunteers. The REALTORS® being honored donated their time, money and passion to enrich the lives of the people in their communities.
“The Good Neighbor Award recipients remind us that REALTORS® build communities in many, many ways,” says NAR President Chris Polychron. “Seeing the level of passion and dedication to helping those in need from this year’s top 10 finalists makes me proud to be a REALTOR®.”
On September 30, five winners will be named from among the 10 finalists. Winners will receive a $10,000 grant and national media exposure for their community charity, including a feature in the November/December issue of REALTOR® Magazine. The winners will also receive travel expenses to the 2015 REALTORS® Conference & Expo in San Diego, where they will accept their awards at a presentation in front of thousands of their peers. In addition, five honorable mentions will receive a $2,500 grant. The public can also vote for their favorite of the 10 Good Neighbor finalists; the finalist who receives the most votes will be named the 2015 Web Choice winner and awarded an additional $1,000 grant.
The 10 REALTOR® Magazine Good Neighbor Awards finalists are:
George Demchak, Kissinger Bigatel & Brower, REALTORS®, State College, Penn.
Demchak saved the 120-year-old Howard Volunteer Fire Company when the lack of funding made it difficult to pay bills and buy new safety gear. As a volunteer firefighter himself, Demchak founded a fall festival to raise money for the station. The event featured a Punkin Chunkin’ contest in which sponsored pumpkins are catapulted into a lake, drawing 18,000 people to the event. Demchak was credited with raising $115,000, which represents up to one-third of the station’s annual budget.
Daniel L. Goodwin, Chairman & CEO of The Inland Real Estate Group Inc., Oak Brook, Ill.
Goodwin founded New Directions Housing Corp., a nonprofit that provides affordable housing for low-income residents. Since 1994, NDHC has built or rehabbed nearly 500 multifamily units throughout Illinois. The nonprofit partners with other groups to provide residents with services like Meals on Wheels, after-school programs, free flu shots, and recreational activities. Goodwin has also served on the board of the Illinois Housing Development Authority Trust Fund and chaired the first Affordable Housing Task Force for DuPage County.
Nancy E. Hines, F.C. Tucker Co. Inc., Avon, Ind.
As a four-time cancer survivor, Hines has been a source of support, hope and encouragement to countless women. In 1996, she cofounded Ovar’coming Together Inc. with two women she met while they were all undergoing treatment for ovarian cancer. Since then, the organization has raised $2 million to increase awareness about ovarian cancer symptoms and early diagnosis. She played a key role in founding the Ovarian Cancer National Alliance and has served on the Indiana health department’s Office of Women’s Health for 10 years diagnosis, support survivors and caregivers, and fund research.
John Kersten, Century 21 Town & Country, Utica, Mich.
For 23 years, Kersten has volunteered his time and talent raising funds for Easter Seals Michigan. He started out organizing rubber duck races but quickly found a way to maximize fundraising by utilizing his business and marketing skills. Today he runs five annual car and cash raffles, which net more than $1 million a year. The $15 million he has raised over the years supports children and adults with disabilities, including the Miracle League baseball team for children with disabilities and the Agrability program, which serves farmers with injuries, illnesses or aging conditions.
George S. Lucas, RE/MAX, Harbor Country, Union Pier, Mich.
Lucas is board president of Chikaming Open Lands, which preserves beautiful, open space in Berrien County, Mich., including the Lake Michigan shoreline. His experience in real estate and business has proven essential for successful land acquisition and financial management. Lucas implemented a strategic planning process and a system to rank the importance of potential preservation projects. Through his leadership, Chikaming Open Lands has grown from a small volunteer organization to a sophisticated land trust with four employees and 550 member households that have protected 1,575 acres of natural resources.
Barbara Mills, RE/MAX Realty One, Inverness, Fla.
Mills started Operation Welcome Home in 2007 to honor soldiers as they return from Iraq or Afghanistan. A military mother herself, she has raised more than $200,000 to hold welcome-home parties for nearly 500 veterans and National Guardsmen and provides baskets of gift cards for food, gas and shopping. She often provides additional services to help the soldiers; for example, she recently helped rehab a home for a veteran who was living in an unfinished structure. She also organizes trips for Honor Flight so that area World War II veterans can visit the memorial in Washington, D.C.
Ida M. Petkus, Keller Williams, Medford, N.J.
Petkus is co-founder and executive director of the Domestic Violence Advocacy Center, which provides support groups, emergency overnight stays, educational workshops and other confidential services to help men and women experiencing domestic violence. The nonprofit also provides volunteer court advocates to help victims navigate the family and criminal court system. Since 2009, the nonprofit has helped hundreds of victims to escape their abusers and be safe. Petkus is a frequent speaker on domestic violence issues and recently spoke at the county court program for high schools about teen dating violence.
Dona Reynolds, Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Stein & Summers Real Estate, St. Joseph, Mo.
A personal tragedy inspired Reynolds to create a lasting legacy to help children. She founded the Mark J. Reynolds Memorial Bike Fund to honor her son, an avid bicyclist, who was killed by a mountain lion while mountain biking in California. Since 2004, she has raised more than $200,000 and donated more than 1,500 bikes and helmets to underprivileged children and given specially equipped custom bikes to children with disabilities. She also organizes many biking events that promote safety and enjoyment of the sport.
Stephen L. Seidl, Seidl & Associates, a division of ShoreWest, REALTORS®, Green Bay, Wis.
Seidl is board president of Miracle League of Green Bay, an adaptive baseball field for children with special needs. He organized focus groups to raise community awareness and then led a fundraising campaign that has raised more than $750,000 to build and maintain the field, stands, and concessions and add an adaptive playground. With a rubber surface, special equipment and volunteer helpers, children with disabilities can participate in a real baseball experience with their families cheering them on. Players wear Major League Baseball–styled uniforms, and a state-of-the-art sound system at the park broadcasts the play-by-play.
Susan Stearns, Berkshire Hathaway, California Properties, Calabasas, Calif.
For 30 years, Stearns has volunteered with New Horizons, a nonprofit that provides group home and independent living support, employment services and educational and recreational programming to 1,000 adults with intellectual disabilities. Serving as board chair and fundraising chair for 10 years, Stearns founded several fundraising events that have raised more than $2.5 million. As ambassador and advocate for the nonprofit, she has recruited many volunteers, board members and donors.
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