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What Defines A Good Neighbor?

By Anita Cooper | September 3, 2012

Realtors® live somewhere too! For 13 years, REALTOR® Magazine’s 2012 Good Neighbor Awards have spotlighted agents who make a difference in the communities where they live.

© Rob -

In October, five winners will be chosen from the 10 finalists named below and will receive a $10,000 grant for their particular community cause. They will also receive paid travel expenses to go to the 2012 REALTORS® Conference & Expo in Orlando, Fla, where the awards will be given. The national media attention they and their cause receive goes without mention...

The “honorable mentions” won’t go home empty-handed, however - they will each receive a $2,500 grant to take home to their community.

NAR President MOE Veissi, broker-owner of Veissi & Associates, Inc. out of Miami said, “Realtors® are integral to a successful community. The Good Neighbor Awards remind us of that and recognize NAR members who spend their time and energy to improve the lives of those in need. I am proud to honor these 10 Realtors® and help them grow their efforts so they can help even more people through their selfless work.”

The finalists as listed by NAR:

Rocco "Rocky" Balsamo, The Rocky Balsamo Real Estate Group/Long & Foster, Princeton Junction, N.J.

Balsamo is founding board member and volunteer executive director for Center for FaithJustice, a nonprofit that promotes volunteerism among teens and young adults. CFJ runs summer day camps and sleep away camps, as well as other year-round workshops for schools and churches. Last year, more than 900 teens volunteered more than 20,000 hours in local charities and spent a similar number of hours in education classes.

Charlene M. Brennan, Strano & Associates Real Estate, Fairview Heights, Ill.

For 17 years, Brennan has been dedicated to helping serve the Rotary District 6510’s Belizean Children's Program. She travels to Belize once a year with physicians to identify children who will come to the U.S. for orthopedic surgery. She photographs patients, coordinates their travel, and recruits host families to care for them. While they are in the U.S., she coordinates their medical care, testing, and physical therapy until they are ready to return home to their families in Belize.

Georgia L. Butterfield, Legacy Real Estate & Associates, Fremont, Calif.

For 18 years, Butterfield has led the nonprofit Adopt An Angel, providing holiday gifts for more than 8,000 of the country’s most needy children. She helped provide gifts for 800 children in 2011 alone. The children, who are living in group homes, shelters, foster care or low-income homes, make wish lists of three gifts. Butterfield finds people to buy what’s on the list and procures donated warehouse space, and recruits volunteers to shop, wrap, tag and deliver the gifts during the holiday season.

Michael Ray Campbell, Broker Associate, Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage, Tucson, Ariz.

Campbell is president of the nonprofit Hearth Foundation, which provides transitional housing for low-income families, typically women with young children. He is credited for reorganizing and stabilizing the organization, strengthening the board, and creating effective partnerships with other organizations to provide services to the residents. Campbell recently won a $720,000 grant, which will allow the organization to make much-needed renovations to their apartments.

Regina “Ginger” Dowdle, Sunrise Realty & Development, Statesville, N.C.

Dowdle and her husband founded The Shepherd’s Watch Ministries, which offers summer camp to the community, as well as a year-round residential program for at-risk youths ages 13-18 in foster care, on their 60-acre farm. The residential program focuses on teens who will likely age out of foster care without being adopted. The goal is to teach these youths much needed skills to help prepare them for independent living. The Dowdles have foster parented more than 20 youths since 2005, adopting two boys with another adoption in process.

Ortrud “Trudy” Harsh, Associate Broker, Long & Foster, Fairfax, Va.

Harsh founded The Brain Foundation in 2003 to address the growing need for affordable housing for mentally ill adults who might otherwise be homeless. The foundation has since purchased six homes that house 24 adults with brain diseases like schizophrenia, bipolar disorder or chronic depression. She has formed a successful partnership with another nonprofit to provide residents with services that allow them to live independently. Her model has been copied in Florida and she frequently mentors others who are trying to create similar programs.

Geoffrey W. Lavell, Better Homes & Gardens Real Estate-Desert Properties, Henderson, Nev.

Lavell devotes hundreds of volunteer hours to the Nevada Childhood Cancer Foundation. A survivor of childhood cancer himself, Lavell is a 15-year volunteer and co-director of Camp Cartwheel, a summer overnight camp for children with cancer or other catastrophic diseases and their siblings. He also leads a puppet show program that travels to schools to educate children about these illnesses and the importance of welcoming back a child who is re-entering school after a long illness.

Patti M. Miller, Tierra Antigua Realty, Sierra Vista, Ariz.

Miller is founder and president of Real Wishes Foundation. Since 2006, the organization has granted home repair wishes for the elderly and disabled as well as other wishes throughout their community.  Miller sprang into action during recent Arizona wildfires and flooding, collecting $1 million worth of food, clothes, and places to stay for victims who lost everything. The foundation, which is supported by the Southeast Arizona Association of REALTORS®, also distributed $130,000 in donations to victims to help pay for losses.

Kathleen Peck, All in One Realty Group Inc., Naples, Fla.

Peck cofounded Lighthouse of Collier, Inc., in 2009. The organization provides services to help the blind and visually impaired function more independently and improve their quality of life. Legally blind herself, Peck raises funds to provide free summer camp for blind children, counseling and skills training for adults transitioning to blindness, and support for caregivers.

Sally Rudloff, Kane & Associates, Alameda, Calif.

As volunteer president of the Alameda Boys and Girls Club, Rudloff is credited with incredible growth that will allow the club to expand from serving 1,200 children to 3,000. Rudloff led a $10 million capital campaign that built a new 25,000-square-foot youth center. She also launched a dental clinic for uninsured children, recruited math teachers for a new tutoring program, and created partnerships that provide counseling for 50 families.

Do you know of a realtor who should be on this list? Please, tell us about him or her - we’d love to showcase them (and their cause) here at RealtyBizNews!

Anita Cooper is a copy and content writer with a vendetta against bad copy. She helps real estate tech companies grow their pipeline by providing lead gen copy and content.

Have world real estate news to share?If you do and would like to interview, feel free to contact Anita at [email protected].
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