Thursday, March 20, 2008

Agents of Charity - Real Estate Gives Back

Too often in today's real estate industry, good works sit unnoticed under the piles of corporate greed and lust money. When the bottom line for a real estate company is also the line in the sand, the agents don't dare do anything to toe it. Pushed to the forefront are stories of stock prices, revenue projections, and profit margins. What many would see if they dig a little deeper, maybe read past the first page, is that many corporations do indeed give back to their respective communities in ways big and small. This practice has become especially prominent in the real estate industry.

Take for example a couple of real estate agents in Lavallette, New Jersey. Just last month Stephanee Mirachi, who is the Executive Assistant to Broker/Owner Lee Childers of Childers Sotheby's International Realty, and Budd Rall, Sales Associate from the Childers Sotheby's Lavallette/Ortley Beach office, participated in the 15th Annual Law Enforcement Torch Run Polar Bear Plunge in Seaside Heights, to benefit Special Olympics New Jersey.

The air was frigid and the snow was fresh as the stage was set the day before the event by a snowstorm hitting the area. Despite the snow and the 38 degree water temperature, nearly 3,000 volunteers showed up alongside Mirachi and Rall to take the plunge. While the temperature was low, the donations were high. The event raised over $750,000 for Special Olympics that will go towards free year round programs that are available to adults and kids with intellectual disabilities.

In Minneapolis, brokers from area commercial real estate firms get together once a year to play in a charity hockey game. The Opus Cup is in its ninth year, and crowds turn out to watch these men hit the ice, and sometimes each other, all in the name of charity. Some are seasoned hockey players that played in college. Both goalies in this year's game played college hockey. Don't be fooled- this game is highly competitive and features a number of players who are just as comfortable skating around an ice rink as they are showing people around a property. The event benefits the charity "Hope for the City", founded by Welsh Company CEO Dennis Doyle. Hope for the City collects and redistributes overstocked items such as food, clothing, and medical supplies. Last year the event raised over $27,000.

In New Jersey, commercial real estate firm Matrix Development Group bought two office buildings and nine acres of parking lots in Brunswick. Rather than settling for just a corporate presence in the community, President and Chief Executive Joseph Taylor began looking for a way to integrate the company into the community in a charitable fashion. Matrix is currently the backer for Elijah's Promise. The charity is a Soup Kitchen, Counseling Center, and Catering School. In 2007 there were approximately 95,000 meals served to the needy at Elijah's Promise.

The New York Times recently ran a piece about charity in the real estate industry. That is how relevant and prevalent the two have become together. Within the real estate industry, companies are not only looking to put their stamp on a market by selling homes or commercial properties. From heartfelt grassroots efforts like Kelli Bennett's to big time undertakings such as Matrix's Elijah's Promise, real estate agents and companies are leaving their mark on communities and touching people's lives every day through ongoing charity work and charity events that are embraced by everyone in the area. Agents once thought of as slick salespeople have been rebranded as agents of change and agents of charity simply by keeping it real.

Kelli Bennett is a real estate agent in Breckenridge, Colorado. The Kelli Sells team helped over 50 families buy and sell Breckenridge Colorado real estate last year.

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