By Sara Geimer, Manager, REALTOR® Magazine Good Neighbor Awards
Many of you have heard about the Good Neighbor Awards, which honors REALTORS® who give back to their community through volunteer work. But did you know that NAR has a new program to help you get your fledgling charitable program off the ground?
Volunteering Works, a grant and mentoring program sponsored by REALTOR® Magazine and the Good Neighbor Society, is grooming future Good Neighbors. This fall, five Volunteering Works recipients were given $1,000 each in seed money and have had the opportunity to partner with a mentor who is a past winner of the Good Neighbor Awards.
At the 2009 REALTORS® Conference & Expo in San Diego last month, we were able to meet one of the first grant recipients, Ellen Kiss of Del Mar, Calif., who founded Adopt A Classroom. Ellen supports a poverty-stricken elementary school in San Diego by matching a school wish list with community donors. “It doesn’t take a lot of money to make things happen,” says Kiss. In addition to addressing physical needs like books and clothing, the program provides a way for Kiss to share with the children the importance of positive thinking. “I teach them to set goals and reach for the stars.”
Kiss’ Volunteering Works grant will help pay for classroom supplies.
Ellen’s mentor is 2001 Good Neighbor Award winner Craig Conant of Warrensburg, Mo., who has been helping Ellen meet the challenges of starting a nonprofit: forming a board of directors, recruiting volunteers, and raising money. Craig, who is chair of the Good Neighbor Society advisory council, says he enjoys being a Volunteering Works mentor because it enables him to share his hard-won experience with other community volunteers.
Hear Craig and Ellen talk about the program in the short video (2:23 minutes) above. And learn more about the program and the other grant recipients at REALTOR.org/gna.