Five Charities Win NAR Recognition

REALTOR® Magazine and the Good Neighbor Society have announced the winning applicants of the second Volunteering Works, an annual program that matches REALTORS® who work on small-scale charitable efforts with mentors and awards them grant money.

The five winning REALTORS® will receive a $1,000 grant and a year of one-on-one mentoring from a member of the Good Neighbor Society, past recipients of the annual REALTOR® Magazine Good Neighbor Award for volunteer service.

“REALTORS® play an important leadership role in building our communities,” said National Association of REALTORS® President Vicki Cox Golder, owner of Vicki L. Cox & Associates in Tucson, Ariz. “Volunteering Works gives an extra boost to new nonprofits and helps them maximize their impact in the community, which benefits all of us.”

Volunteering Works recipients were selected based on their dedication to the community through volunteer work and the potential for their charitable work to be expanded or improved with the help of an expert mentor.

“Volunteering Works has given me incredible recognition and credibility throughout the community,” said REALTOR® Ellen Kiss, of Kiss Properties in Del Mar, Calif., and a 2009 Volunteering Works winner who founded Adopt-A-Classroom. Her mentor, REALTOR® Craig Conant, Elsberry Realty, Warrensburg, Mo., helped her brainstorm creative fundraisers like a cookbook and a casino night and encouraged her to ask a local college to create her charity website for free. “I’d like to turn the $1,000 grant into $100,000,” said Kiss.

Conant, a Good Neighbor Society Advisory Council chair and 2001 winner of REALTOR® Magazine’s Good Neighbor Award, says mentors are essential for sharing their insights and motivating other REALTORS® to action. “Mentors provide guidance and advice on things like establishing a board of directors, obtaining the appropriate nonprofit status, improving fundraising success, and recruiting volunteers,” said Conant.

“Past Good Neighbor Award winners have spent upwards of 20 hours a week volunteering and have built and led some of the most effective charitable organizations in the country,” said Frank Sibley, REALTOR® Magazine publisher. “With advice and guidance from REALTOR® mentors, we hope the five winners will be able to take their charitable efforts to the next level and help even more people in their communities.”

The 2010 recipients of the Volunteering Works grant and mentoring are:

Cynthia M. Dwyer, Weichert REALTORS®, Vienna, Va.
Dwyer provides clothing to families of wounded soldiers recovering at Walter Reed Army Medical Center. Many of these wounded warriors’ spouses rush to Walter Reed with only an overnight bag only to find out they will spend months or years there while their loved one recovers. Dwyer sets up clothing distributions to provide gently used clothing for men, women and children, including warm clothes for winter and even formal wear for special events. Dwyer’s mentor will be 2002 Good Neighbor Cynthia Shafer, Lahaina Realty Inc., Fort Myers Beach, Fla., founder of Beds for Kidz (part of Voices of Kids of Southwest Florida). Dwyer plans to use her mentor’s guidance to increase clothing donations.

Leslie Heath, Century 21 Service Realty Inc., Paducah, Ky.
Heath started the Oscar Cross Legacy Committee to restore the historic home of the founder of the Paducah Boys and Girls Club chapter to house an after-school homework and meal center for children in the community. Heath’s mentor will be 2009 Good Neighbor and high school teacher Regina Ragon, Prudential Realty Center, Flintstone, Ga., founder of Latin American Community Development. Heath will ask her mentor to help her find new ways to network with local businesses, market her cause to the community, and balance her volunteer work with her real estate career.

Joyce R. Long, Prudential Shimmering Sands Realty, Panama City Beach, Fla.
Long founded Acton Up with Downs to increase awareness, acceptance and inclusion for people with Down Syndrome, their families and caregivers. Long mentors parents of young children with Downs, runs support groups, and sends New Parent Packets to doctor’s offices, hospitals and clinics. Long’s mentor will be 2001 Good Neighbor Claudette Bruck, Multiple Choice Realty Investments, Tamarac, Fla., with Broward Partnership for the Homeless. Long hopes her mentor will help her recruit and keep community leaders on her board of directors and increase volunteers.

Sarah J. Sorenson, Whale’s Trail Realty Inc., Kahului, Hawaii
Sorenson founded REALTORS® Wishing Well…for Maui Students to support the area’s 32 budget-crunched public schools by coordinating donations of goods, services, and funds. She appoints coordinators to identify each school’s needs; locates individual and corporate donors of furniture, office equipment, materials and services; and then facilitates transportation of the goods to the schools. Her mentor will be 2008 Good Neighbor Victor Kee, Pete Anderson Realty Inc., Astoria, Ore., of Sunday Supper and Sunday Meals on Wheels. Sorenson would like her mentor to help her recruit volunteers and enhance communication with school administrators, teachers and students.

Donna Whiskeman, RE/MAX Cimarron Realty LLC, Ridgway, Colo.
Whiskeman founded Neighbor to Neighbor in 2006 to serve seniors and adults who are homebound or disabled. In her rural county in southwestern Colorado, it’s not easy for seniors to get to doctor appointments or access other services in the nearest metropolitan area, which is 35 miles away. Whiskeman and her volunteers deliver meals, host weekly lunches, take neighbors shopping, and provide handyman services. Whiskeman’s mentor is 2003 Good Neighbor Silvia S. Rodriguez, with Silvia International Realty in Rockville, Md., and a volunteer leader with Centro Catolico Hispano. Rodriguez will help with fundraising ideas, improving the effectiveness of the board of directors and keeping volunteers motivated.

Volunteering Works is funded by The Stuart & Jill Siegel Charitable Foundation. To learn more about Volunteering Works or the Good Neighbor Awards, go to