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The National Association of REALTORS® (NAR) has announced its 2018 Good Neighbor Award winners: Omayra Borges, Reality Realty, San Juan, Puerto Rico; Chet Choman, Colorado Realty and Land Co., Alamosa, Colo.; Jeremy Lichtenstein, RE/MAX Realty Services, Bethesda, Md.; Joy C. Nelson, Haugan Nelson Realty, Watertown, S.D.; and Elias Thomas III, Exit Key Real Estate, Shapleigh, Maine.

Each of the five winners—selected by a multi-stage, criteria-based judging process—will receive a $10,000 grant for their charity and be featured in the November/December issue of REALTOR® Magazine. The recipients will also be presented with crystal trophies on Sat., November 3, during the 2018 REALTORS® Conference & Expo in Boston.

“This year’s Good Neighbors have inspired their communities and made a lasting impact by going the extra mile to help others in need,” says NAR President Elizabeth Mendenhall. “These selfless individuals remind us all of the true meaning, and importance, of giving back to our communities.”

2018 Good Neighbor Award Winners

Omayra Borges, Reality Realty, San Juan, Puerto Rico
Borges co-founded nonprofit FundaciĂłn Mochileando 100×35 to bring hope after the destruction of Hurricane Maria. She focused on remote mountain villages, some of the regions hit hardest by last summer’s storm, delivering essentials like water and medicine and repairing homes across the island. She has raised $1.1 million and helped over 45,000 people in Puerto Rico.

Chet Choman, Colorado Realty and Land Co., Alamosa, Colo.
Choman co-founded 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 annually—that’s about one out of every three people in a six-county area larger than Massachusetts.

Jeremy Lichtenstein, RE/MAX Realty Services, Bethesda, Md.
When Lichtenstein realized that thousands of children didn’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 across 25 area schools.

Joy C. Nelson, Haugan Nelson Realty, Watertown, S.D.
Nelson founded Joy Ranch to create a home for underserved people, offering countless opportunities for recreation, therapy and education. The barrier-free, ADA-accessible ranch is a place where people of any ability can go horseback riding and enjoy other outdoor activities without being limited by medical concerns.

Elias Thomas III, GRI, Exit Key Real Estate, Shapleigh, Maine
For 40 years, Thomas has led The Rotary Foundation, organizing trips to India to immunize over 500 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, raising more than $350,000 along the way.

In addition to the winners, five REALTORS® have been recognized as Good Neighbor Award honorable mentions, and will each receive $2,500 grants: Annette Evans, Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices New Jersey Properties, Livingston, N.J., 30-year board member for JESPY House Inc.; Necia T. Freeman, Old Colony REALTORS® of Huntington, Barboursville, W.V., founder of Backpacks & Brown Bags; Richard Harris, Richard Harris & Associates Inc., Palm Harbor, Fla., president of the Arc Tampa Bay; Michael LaFargue, Coldwell Banker Residential, Chicago, president of West Chesterfield Community Association; and Jack Persin, Baird & Warner, Naperville, Ill., co-founder of Naperville Responds for Veterans.

Additionally, in September, the public voted for its favorite Good Neighbor Award finalist, crowning this year’s “Web Choice Favorites.” A total of 165,000 votes were cast. This year’s Web Choice Favorites are Michael LaFargue, who will receive an additional $2,500 bonus donation for the West Chesterfield Community Association and the Redline Extension, and Necia Freeman and Joy Nelson, who will each receive additional $1,250 bonus donations for Backpacks and Brown Bags and Joy Ranch. The Web Choice Favorite voting and bonus grants are courtesy of realtor.com®.

“The REALTORS® recognized as Good Neighbors are outstanding examples of the commitment to community that’s so important in the real estate industry,” says Ryan O’Hara, CEO of realtor.com. “Home is everything to us at realtor.com, and that’s a value we share with each and every one of NAR’s members. Realtor.com is proud to sponsor the Good Neighbor Awards program, and we look forward to continuing our long-standing partnership with the industry as we work together to make meaningful connections between consumers and REALTORS®.”

NAR’s Good Neighbor Awards is supported by primary sponsor realtor.com 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. To be eligible, nominees must be NAR members in good standing.

The Good Neighbor Awards have been granted annually since 2000. More than $1.1 million in grants have been awarded to the winners’ charities.

For more information, please visit www.nar.realtor/gna.

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