The National Association of RealtorsÂ® has honored 10 RealtorsÂ®, members of the National Association of RealtorsÂ®, as finalists for its 2018 Good Neighbor Awards. This award honors RealtorsÂ® who have made a positive impact on their communities through extraordinary volunteer service.
This year marks the 19th year the Good Neighbor Awards program has recognized RealtorÂ® volunteers. The RealtorsÂ® being honored have donated their time, money and passion to enrich the lives of the people in their communities.
â€śThis yearâ€™s 10 Good Neighbor finalists have raised the bar in building stronger communities at home and around the globe,â€ť says NAR President Elizabeth Mendenhall, a sixth-generation RealtorÂ® from Columbia, Missouri and CEO of RE/MAX Boone Realty. â€śThey inspire and remind all of us about the true meaning of giving back and we are proud of these RealtorsÂ® for dedicating hundreds of hours of their personal time to these important causes.â€ť
On October 2, five winners will be named from among the 10 finalists. Winners will receive a $10,000 grant and national media exposure for their efforts, including a feature in the November/December issue of REALTORÂ® Magazine. The winners will also receive travel expenses to the 2018 REALTORSÂ® Conference & Expo in Boston, where they will accept an award in front of thousands of their peers. On October 2, the remaining five finalists will also be named honorable mentions and receive a $2,500 grant in recognition of their work.
The public is invited to vote for their favorites of the 10 finalists. The top three vote getters will win bonus grants of $2,500, $1,250 and $1,250, respectively, for their nonprofits.Â Last year’s Web Choice Favorite voting program, which is sponsored by realtor.comÂ®, generated more than 93,000 votes. Cast your vote at realtor.com/goodneighbor between August 30 and September 28.
The 10 Good Neighbor Awards finalists are:
Omayra Borges, San Juan, Puerto Rico
Borges cofounded the nonprofit FundaciĂłn Mochileando 100×35 after the destruction of Hurricane Maria. She focused on remote mountain villages, some of the hardest hit and most difficult to access, by delivering essentials like water and medicine, and repairing homes. She has raised $1.1 million and helped 45,000 people.
Chet Choman, Colorado Realty and Land Co., Alamosa, Colorado
Choman cofounded one of the first rural homeless shelters in the country and has dedicated 40 years to fighting homelessness and hunger. Today, La Puente Home is a 45-bed shelter that also operates after-school programs and 15 food pantries, serving about 16,000 people annuallyâ€”thatâ€™s one out of every three people in the six-county area larger than Massachusetts.
Annette Evans, Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices New Jersey Properties, Livingston, New Jersey
Evans has spent 30 years as a volunteer board memberÂ at JESPY House, a nonprofit advancing independence for adults with disabilities. In that time, she has taken on multiple roles but most recently works as a parent advocate, helping them prepare for their adult children to age in place at JESPY House.
Necia T. Freeman, Old Colony REALTORSÂ® of Huntington, Barboursville, West Virginia
Freeman founded the Backpacks & Brown Bags ministry to feed children who otherwise would not have stable food on the weekends and to assist opioid-addicted women, some of whom are the children’s mothers. Her work can be seen in the Emmy- and Oscar-nominated 2017 documentary â€śHeroin(e).â€ť
Richard L. Harris, Richard Harris & Associates, Inc., Palm Harbor, Florida
Harris is volunteer president of a $12 million nonprofit, The Arc Tampa Bay, which supports and empowers people of all ages with intellectual and developmental disabilities. His business and real estate expertise helped the organization reduce costs, increase annual revenue by $250,000, and invest wisely in order to enhance its reach in the community.
Michael LaFargue, Coldwell Banker Residential, Chicago, Illinois
LaFargue is a tenacious champion for communities, working in multiple nonprofits related to transportation, schools, neighborhoods and parks in effort to drive change in underserved areas of Chicago. He led an effort to install 40 neighborhood security cameras, which led to the arrest of suspects in the murder of a local judge. He also leads the Red Line Extension Coalition, which helps drive a $2 billion, 5.3-mile train route expansion that would benefit people in underserved areas.
Jeremy Lichtenstein, RE/MAX Realty Services, Bethesda, Maryland
When Lichtenstein realized that thousands of children didnâ€™t have enough to eat in his wealthy Washington, D.C., suburb, he sprang into action. The nonprofit organization Kids in Need Distributors (KIND) he founded in 2012 has grown from providing weekend food for 37 students at one public school to now serving some 2,100 children in 25 schools.
Joy Nelson, Haugan Nelson Realty, Watertown, South Dakota
Nelson founded 126-acre Joy Ranch to share her love of open land and horses with others in her community. The fully ADA-accessible ranch is a place where people of any ability can go horseback riding and enjoy various other outdoor activities, without being limited by medical concerns. The ranch also provides equine therapy for kids and adults with disabilities and psychological challenges.
Jack Persin, Baird & Warner, Naperville, Illinois
Persin co-founded Naperville Responds for Veterans, a nonprofit that helps low and moderate-income veterans and their families live with dignity and remain in their home as they age. The nonprofit has helped nearly 200 veterans by making much-needed repairs, replacing aging systems and adding retrofits like wheelchair ramps to accommodate disabilities.
Elias Thomas III, Exit Key Real Estate, Shapleigh, Maine
For 40 years, Elias Thomas has volunteered with Rotary International, including leading volunteer trips to India to immunize children against polio and build a system of dams to provide villagers with access to clean water. He has led more than 350 Rotarians from around the world on these trips and has raised more than $350,000.
The National Association of RealtorsÂ®‘ Good Neighbor Awards is supported by primary sponsor realtor.comÂ® and Wells Fargo Home Mortgage. Nominees were judged on their personal contribution of time as well as financial and material contributions to benefit their cause.
Information about NAR is available at www.realtor.org.