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For Tim and Jeannie Hamann, being part of the community goes beyond running their company, Hamann Real Estate. It’s also about giving back, which they’ve been doing since 2015 through the Tim and Jeannie Hamann Foundation.

The Benicia Calif. couple’s nonprofit provides financial assistance to cover mortgage and rent payments, utility bills, groceries, car payments and other expenses while patients are undergoing cancer treatment.

We wanted to get to know the Hamanns better and learn more about their recent fundraising efforts and plans as the pandemic wanes, so we caught up with the RISMedia Newsmakers for a brief, informative interview.

What does it mean to be named among this year’s RISMedia’s Real Estate Newsmakers in the Inspiration category?

Jeannie Hamann: It adds to us being appreciative of what we have started, and it brings attention to other REALTORS® how important it is to give back. We’re in a people business, and we’re grateful for our success and our community.

Tim Hamann: It’s a huge honor to be named a Newsmaker. We’ve spent years supporting the community and trying to make other people’s lives better.

Tell us about your work at the Tim and Jeannie Hamann Foundation and how it started.

JH: For years, we raised money for the American Cancer Society, and about seven years ago, a young woman in her 30s was diagnosed with breast cancer and needed help. Her car broke down, and she had no one to turn to, so we did a fundraiser.

That made us look at one another and say we need to go in a different direction with our fundraisers and start a foundation to help cancer patients going through treatment.

She inspired us to begin the foundation, and we started out with our personal business database. Our support has grown to the hospitals and community corporations supporting us.

Why is it so important to give back to the community, despite the challenges of this past year and a half?

JH: I’ve always felt that giving back is a huge thing as a REALTOR®. We make our living in the communities, and we need to give back to the communities. Our foundation is something that we believe in very much. When we continued our fundraising throughout the pandemic, we said that cancer doesn’t stop because of COVID.

We did see the requests go down because people were not going to the doctors during COVID like they usually would because there were obstacles. As COVID has lifted a bit this year, our requests have gone up a lot. The sad part is that patients are going to the doctors now, and they are finding out that they are having issues that probably should’ve been addressed sooner.

TH: It was surprising that our fundraising efforts came close to halting because of the pandemic, but it was astounding how the community also stepped up to support us.

As Jeannie said, cancer doesn’t stop and, unfortunately, now all our needs are coming in with people who have stage three and stage four cancer instead of stage one. It’s gotten to be a challenge because of that, but we appreciate everything that the real estate community and the Vallejo-Benicia community have done.

How did the virtual pivot last year affect your fundraising efforts? 

JH: It was very successful. The funds that we collected were high because we had sold the tickets for our auction already. Almost 100% of those people let us keep the funds they paid to come to that event. So, it was an event that would typically have expenses that became all profit.

Then, we did a virtual event, which worked out well with Zoom meetings. Everything was a bit different, but we had great photography, and it was a whole other way of thinking. The volunteers were the ones that excelled in different areas and pulled it together.

Is this something that you see becoming the norm in future events, or does it lack that personal touch of an in-person event?

JH: We will do virtual events this year in September and our live auction, and we know that the live auction could change again. Our goal is to combine the two because by doing the virtual auction, we learned that many people participated from out of state or who were just not the type to go to an auction.

TH: We could go all virtual, but then we’d give up the human side of it, and it is personally fulfilling to see our supporters and let them know whom their funds are going to. Another important thing is that other REALTORS® from other offices in town also volunteer and help out with the foundation. We don’t want to lose the personal part of that.

What sort of effect have moratoriums and forbearance extensions had on the patients your foundation serves?

JH: Over 50% of the funds that we distribute go toward rent and house payments. When we have patients who need help and call us, we tend to lean toward making rent or mortgage payments, so they can free up the cash they have left to put it where it’s most needed.

Out of the people that we’ve reached out to and helped thus far, the forbearance and moratorium issue did not come up, and I think the majority of them were not going to do that. We may get bombarded with some calls in June from someone who finds that they owe $10,000 in rent, but that has yet to come.

The housing market is red hot nationwide with surging prices, high demand and record-low mortgages. What are you seeing in your markets?

JH: I have a huge concern about affordable housing. The county we represent is the north part of the north bay. Our county has always been the affordable county of that area. Because of the millennials buying now, and others who rented in the city and through COVID wanted more space, they’ve driven our prices up like everywhere else.

My concern is when the foreclosure and eviction moratoriums are over. You’re going to see investors selling their homes because the prices are high, and tenants’ rents will go up.

As we begin to come out of the pandemic, what has the two of you excited about the future?

JH: Being together with people face-to-face at social gatherings. My agents are just so excited to do open houses again. For many of them, that’s one of the tools they use for their success.

TH: We as REALTORS® want to be with people and be social and interact. I think that’s one of the biggest things that we have missed, so we are looking forward to getting back to that.

Jordan Grice is RISMedia’s associate content editor. Email him your real estate news ideas to
jgrice@rismedia.com.

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