The National Association of REALTORS® has announced it has selected 10 REALTORS® as finalists for its 2022 Good Neighbor Awards, which honor NAR members who make an extraordinary difference in their communities through volunteer work. 2022 marks the 23rd anniversary of the Good Neighbor Awards program.
“This year’s Good Neighbor finalists have gone above and beyond to help build stronger communities and improve the lives of people across this country,” said NAR President Leslie Rouda Smith, a REALTOR® from Plano, Texas, and a broker associate at Dave Perry-Miller Real Estate in Dallas. “Their determination and selfless commitment embody everything that we strive for as REALTORS® and as compassionate members of our community. I’m proud of this group for devoting hundreds of hours of their personal time to these important causes.”
The winners will also be honored in November during NAR NXT, The REALTOR® Experience, in Orlando, Florida. Five winners will receive a $10,000 grant and national media exposure for their charity, including a feature in the fall issue of REALTOR® Magazine. Five honorable mentions will receive $2,500 grants.
The public can vote for their favorite of the 10 Good Neighbor finalists. The top three vote-getters will be recognized as Web Choice Favorites, with the winner taking home $2,500, and the second and third place finishers each receiving $1,250, funded by Realtor.com®. Both the winners, as determined by judges, and the Web Choice Favorites will be announced on October 6.
The 10 NAR Good Neighbor Awards finalists are as follows:
Jennifer Barnes, Keller Williams Realty Peachtree Road, Brookhaven, Georgia.
In 2020, Barnes thought she would feed people for just a few weeks until the COVID-19-induced shutdowns ended. That experience opened her eyes to an underlying vulnerability in her affluent Atlanta-area neighborhood that extended well beyond food. The nonprofit she founded, Solidarity Sandy Springs, has more than 2,600 volunteers who provide services including free eye exams and glasses, flu vaccines, job fairs, and back-to-school backpacks to thousands of families. Barnes has also distributed nearly one million pounds of food to about 46,000 shoppers.
Dennis Curtin, Legacy Investments, Kansas City, Missouri
Curtin founded Mimi’s Pantry to offer a more positive food pantry experience to people in need. The facility welcomes shoppers to browse the aisles and choose their food, just as they would in a grocery store. The nonprofit is invested in commercial refrigeration equipment and offers fresh meat, produce and milk. It also has a play area and library for kids and is building a greenhouse, an orchard of fruit trees and berry bushes this fall. In three years, it has served 50,000 individuals.
Jim Edmonds, Emerald Isle Properties, Kilauea, Hawaii
As the Hawaiian island of Kauai may at any time have only a handful of homes for sale under $1 million, Permanently Affordable Living (PAL) Kaua’i founder Jim Edmonds partners with nonprofits to build and convert affordable housing for service and farm workers within walking distance to their workplaces. Edmonds navigates the complex challenges of poor infrastructure and resource scarcity through innovative, cost-saving solutions like solar energy, edible landscaping, shared electric vehicles, and shared bicycles.
Heather Griesser LaPierre, RE/MAX Preferred Newtown Square, Newtown Square, Pennsylvania
To address food insecurity in her neighborhood and around the world,LaPierre founded Kids Against Hunger Philadelphia. She rallies hundreds of volunteers each month to pack nutritious, ready-to-make pasta- and rice-based meals, involving local entities like churches, scout troops and police officers. In 2021, she decided to double production to 350,000 meals a month in order to ensure children who depended on school lunches were fed. This effort was even more impressive considering COVID-19 restrictions had forced her to manage with a fraction of the normal volunteer force.
Tamara “Tami” Hicks, Century 21 Signature Real Estate, Ames, Iowa
As a REALTOR®, Tami Hicks would see sellers throw out perfectly good furniture that they didn’t need because they didn’t know what to do with it. Hicks gathered a few friends and co-founded Overflow Thrift Store, a nonprofit that recycles and resells home furnishings and clothing. Now boasting two locations, the thrift stores’ proceeds are distributed monthly to 10 nonprofit organizations. It also partners with eight additional community agencies to provide clients with free shopping vouchers for furniture and housewares. Since 2014, Overflow Thrift Store has resold more than 1 million items, recycled 325 tons of clothing that otherwise may have gone into landfills and donated $512,000 to nonprofit organizations.
Lisa Hoeve, Coldwell Banker Woodland Schmidt, Holland, Michigan
As a foster parent herself, Hoeve understands the stressful circumstances that arise when a child is placed in a new home, often with strangers, on short notice and carrying none of their own belongings. Hoeve created Hope Pkgs to ease the transition for the children and to support the foster parents striving to ensure these children are as comfortable as possible. She works through child service agencies in Michigan to provide “First Night Bags” with gender- and age-appropriate new pajamas, socks, underwear, blankets, toiletries and stuffed animals. Since 2015, she has served more than 4,200 children.
Debbie McCabe, Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Fox & Roach, REALTORS®, and the Trident Group, Devon, Pennsylvania
Most of us don’t know what it feels like to sleep on the streets in the winter, but Debbie McCabe does. Each year, she leads a team of people who voluntarily sleep in cardboard boxes to raise money to help youth experiencing homelessness. For more than 10 years, McCabe has been a volunteer leader for the 76-bed Covenant House Pennsylvania. The transitional housing and services it provides build a bridge to hope for young people overcoming homelessness and who have been a victim of human trafficking. McCabe helped the facility safely keep its doors open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week at the height of the pandemic.
Debbie Miller, Webpro Realty, Lakeland, Florida
Miller had been a devoted volunteer for KidsPACK for many years, helping provide weekend food to kids who might not otherwise have had enough to eat. When COVID-19 hit and demand spiked, the organization found that vendors could no longer supply the bulk food it needed. As inventory dwindled, Miller took to social media, starting a Facebook page and convincing hundreds of new people to donate Chef Boyardee provisions using Amazon. The organization was able to support 140 new children from this effort alone. Today, it feeds 3,000 kids from 80 area schools on weekends.
Kathy Opperman, Long & Foster Collegeville, Collegeville, Pennsylvania
Opperman is the founder of Pillars of Light and Love, which leads free workshops, support groups and youth empowerment programs for local residents and children over the age of five. The organization has special sessions on bullying, children who have lost their mother, and parents who have lost a child to suicide or addiction. Their mission is to build confidence, self-esteem and resilience so adults and youth can overcome the stresses of life.
MaliVai Washington, Diamond Life Real Estate, Jacksonville Beach, Florida
For 26 years, MaliVai Washington Youth Foundation founder Mal Washington has been breaking the cycle of poverty through a vibrant after-school mentoring program. Originally rooted in tennis, MWYF now serves 500 kids annually through a comprehensive youth development program of academic tutoring, leadership skills, financial training and fitness. Washington is proud of the 100% high school graduation rate within the program as the surrounding neighborhood’s dropout rate is 20%.
Nominees were judged on their personal contribution of time as well as financial and material contributions to benefit their cause.
NAR’s Good Neighbor Awards is supported by primary sponsor realtor.com® as well as the Center for REALTOR® Development.
“The Good Neighbor Award finalists are a remarkable group of individuals,” said Realtor.com® CMO Mickey Neuberger. “Their work shows that volunteers are truly improving our communities and making them a better place, and Realtor.com is so pleased to be able to recognize them for their efforts.”
For more information, visit nar.realtor.