Diane Forrest expressed curiosity when she encountered Hannon Bell, a real estate agent who was wielding a brush during the one-day Brush-Up Winnipeg painting blitz. When she became engaged in conversation with the WinnipegREALTORS® member, she queried why he had taken time out to help other volunteers paint her home during the Take Pride Winnipeg campaign.
Bell’s reply was simple and one shared with other REALTORS®. He told the widow that REALTORS® do more than just sell houses — they are part of the community so they want to make a contribution, however humble.
“People should know more about that,” Forrest told the WREN. “I won’t have believed people would so freely volunteer their time like that.
“They did everything. It was just unbelievable.
In fact, Brush-Up Winnipeg is just one of many community-oriented programs participated in by members of the association. Not merely in Winnipeg, but across the province. The Take Pride Winnipeg program is one of the many in which REALTORS® lend a helping hand. Their contributions are often unheralded, expect among their peers, which is probably why Forrest expressed such surprise that an agent would take off a Saturday just to give her a hand up.
“Hundreds of our REALTOR® members do things for their communities that make me proud,” said Deborah Goodfellow when she received the WinnipegREALTORS® community service award for 2010 earlier this year. “It’s enough of a reward when we see things happen in our community.”
The past-president of WinnipegREALTORS® used the word “community” to emphasize that agents are always willing to do something to benefit their neighbours, city and province.
In March, WinnipegREALTORS® hosted its annual Gimme Shelter fund-raising social at the Tijuana Yacht Club, raising funds for the Manitoba Real Estate Association Shelter Foundation, which provides grants for shelter-related causes, including Esther House Inc., the Manitoba Interfaith Immigration Council Inc., Habitat for Humanity Winnipeg, and New Directions for Children, Youth, Adults and Families.
This year, the social raised $50,133.42 for the shelter foundation, while about $26,000 was raised in the previous year.
“REALTORS® have done so much for shelter-related causes,” said Goodfellow. “We know about people’s problems. You can’t help but get to know the people in the community you serve when you sell homes for a living.”
“Every person deserves a home where they can feel comfortable, and it was with this understanding that the foundation was established and subsequently registered as a charitable organization in 2006,” explained MREA Shelter Foundation chair Roberta Weiss.
WinnipegREALTORS® is also responsible for the Housing Opportunity Partnership, or HOP, which has since 1986 been buying, renovating and then selling homes in the city’s West End to low- and moderate-income Winnipeggers. The program has made a dramatic difference in the West End neighbourhood. The fact that homes have been spruced up has encouraged others who are not part of HOP to put on a fresh coat of paint on their own homes or make some other improvements.
But shelter goes beyond property. On Thanksgiving Day or Christmas Day, REALTORS® can be seen at Shilom Mission helping serve meals to the less privileged.
The money from the foundation supports Esther House, which provides a safe environment in which women can deal with their addictions. Thirty-five-year-old Sylvia, who became addicted to alcohol and drugs, told the WREN, Esther House provided her with hope after she had hit rock bottom. “It was a question of do I want to live or do I want to die.”
Forrest may have been surprised, but REALTORS® are extremely proud of the communities in which they live, which is why they can be seen wielding a paint brush or serving turkey dinners. It’s not a matter of seeking out praise, but of wanting to help out.