ERA Key Realty Services donated $43,282 to 36 organizations through The ERA Key Realty Services Charitable Trust Foundation in 2017, the company recently announced. ERA Key has also awarded three of its agents with Circle of Light Awards for their charitable work: Zenaide (Zee) Swenson; Martha Convers; and Diane Carpentier Dabrowski. ERA Key presented each awardee with a check for $500 for a charity of their choice.
“I’m proud of the effort our agents make to be involved in their community,” says Cheryl Eidinger-Taylor, president of ERA Key. “The best real estate agents try to improve the quality of life of their clients by helping them find the homes of their dreams. Our agents are going even further by improving the quality of life of those who most need their help—not only locally, but throughout the world.”
The ERA Key Realty Services Charitable Trust Foundation has given $341,282 since its inception in 2004. The Foundation donated $10,000 last year to the Muscular Dystrophy Association, while also helping charities such as Habitat for Humanity, the Worcester County Food Bank, Veterans, Inc. and the Center of Disaster Philanthropy.
Swenson and her husband, John, run Andrew’s Helpful Hands (AHH) in memory of their son and have raised more than $650,000, which has been used to pay mortgages or rent for more than 55 Massachusetts families that have a child that has had or is having
a bone marrow transplant to treat leukemia or cancer. AHH takes over mortgage or rental payments for a year.
Swenson’s son Andrew was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia at age 2 and testicular cancer at age 4. He suffered a relapse with both diseases at age 5. She quit her job to stay with him at the hospital, and, as a result, was unable to keep up with mounting mortgage payments. Her brother, John Sousa, organized a fundraiser to help her keep her family home. Her son expressed a desire to help others, so she started AHH.
Convers, a native of Venezuela who left when the late President Hugo Chavez was steering the country toward communism, has held Zumbathons and collected 250 pairs of shoes for people living in poverty in her homeland. She initially was planning to donate medicine, but started Shoes for Venezuela when she discovered that shoes are an even greater need. The shoes were collected in less than 15 days “thanks to ERA Key agents, clients and people related to our clients,” she says.
Under current President Nicolas Maduro, she says, conditions have worsened, as the country is run as “a satellite of Cuba.” Inflation has run as high as 2000 percent, and people have to work a year and a half for a pair of sneakers.
Dabrowski is working with Pwoje Espwa Sud (Project Hope South) orphanage in Les Cayes, Haiti, in memory of her daughter Emily, who died at age 17 from complications caused by mononucleosis. Emily had been to the orphanage as a student and was passionate about returning there to help, according to her mother.
Dabrowski has raised more than $30,000 for Free the Kids, Inc. to help build new housing, and provide food and education to the children living there. She has also created a memorial scholarship fund with $5,000 to provide scholarships to others in her daughter’s graduating class at Shepherd Hill Regional High School in Dudley.
The concrete dome she funded has no running water or bathroom, she says, but it is an upgrade compared with where the children previously lived. The orphanage cares for 300 children, but they are forced to leave at age 18. Dabrowski is working on a program to help those who leave make the transition to the workplace. They leave with little education and only a few have the opportunity to learn a trade, she says.
“Our agents do so much in the community, it’s difficult to single out those who merit special attention,” Eidinger-Taylor says. “This year’s three Circle of Honor winners are successful in their careers, but they also take time to help others. They embody the best of what ERA Key has to offer.”
Anyone wishing to donate to Andrew’s Helpful Hands can reach the organization at www.andrewshelpfulhands.org or send donations or inquiries to P.O. Box 751, Hudson, MA 01749. Convers is collecting donations for Shoes for Venezuela at ERA Key’s Framingham office, 1661 Worcester Rd., and can be reached at 774-288-9521 or MarthaConversRE@gmail.com.
Dabrowski says donations to Pwoje Espwa can be made through Free the Kids Inc., 5704 W. Market St. #8947, Greensboro, SC 27419. She asked that they be noted as being in memory of Emily Dabrowski. Donations to Emily’s scholarship fund can be mailed to her home at 31 Main St., Charlton, MA 01507.
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