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Passionate about serving the community — REALTORS® strive to make a difference by helping people
Dec 18, 2009

WinnipegREALTORS® president Deborah Goodfellow is passionate about her community. 

“REALTORS® do more than just sell real estate,” she explained. “We help to build strong and vibrant communities. We’re directly involved in the communities we serve. When you’re in the various homes with people, you see the highs and lows — the 90-year-old woman who just wants you to share a pot of tea with her.

“You see the real need at the grass-roots level, and you can’t help but want to help.”

Goodfellow is driven by the need to get involved in important causes — Siloam Mission, Hannah Taylor’s Ladybug Foundation, the Manitoba Real Estate Association’s Shelter Foundation, the Canadian Real Estate Association’s REALTORS Care® committee, the Friends of the Canadian Museum for Human Rights or just rejuvenating her beloved Transcona. There is no stopping her from wanting to make a positive difference in the lives of other people.

At this year’s WinnipegREALTORS® Citizens Hall of Fame induction ceremony, Goodfellow took advantage of the opportunity to share with the special dignitaries and guests, her belief that REALTORS® commit themselves to more than just ensuring home buyers and sellers are well served.   

The Citizens Hall of Fame was established by the Winnipeg Real Estate Board (now named WinnipegREALTORS®) in 1986 to celebrate outstanding achievement and contributions of citizens to Winnipeg’s quality of life. To date, 36 inductees have been selected, including former premier and senator Duff Roblin, former mayors Steve Juba, Bill Norrie and James Ashdown, former chief justice Samuel Freedman, CanWest Global founder Israel Asper, researcher Dr. Dhalla, authors Carol Shields and Nellie McLung  as well as sculptor Leo Mol. Brief descriptions of every inductee’s contributions to Winnipeg’s quality of life are found at winnipegfame.ca

Sol Kanee, this year’s inductee, was referred to as “Citizen Kanee” in a Winnipeg Free Press tribute. Some of his most notable contributions include his commitment to creating the modern United Way of Winnipeg, helping build the Royal Winnipeg Ballet into a world-class troupe, and his leadership role in making the beautiful Asper Jewish Community Campus a reality. 

“His lesser known activities in counseling and mentoring and helping people are the greatest attributes for which we nominated Mr. Kanee,” said Sidney Halprin, who was among the many who nominated Kanee for induction into the hall of fame. 

Mayor Sam Katz called Sidney Halprin after the ceremony to say his brother told him that when they arrived in Winnipeg in 1951 as immigrants, Sol gave him a job in the flour mill he operated. (By the way, the Soo Line Flour Mills was the first to introduce Swiss technology in North America and change the way everyone conducted business.)

A final comment from Sidney Halprin is worth noting as a strong rationale for establishing the Citizens Hall of Fame: “Our nomination was intended not only to recognize, but more importantly to inspire and motivate our and future generations to emulate the inspirational leadership of Mr. Kanee — in caring for people, in building community, in demonstrating that even one person can make a difference, one action at a time”

At the ceremony, Goodfellow said: “Once again we come together in order to celebrate and honour an individual who truly led a remarkable life. In doing so, he has left a legacy that will endure for many years to come. 

“Our inductee fully embraced his father’s principle that all good that is taken from the community must be paid back in kind. And that he did. Repaying his great city of Winnipeg, his country and the world far in excess of his share.

“We have all benefited from his service to community. Why? Because there are those exemplary citizens among us whose lights shine just a little bit brighter, lighting a path for others to follow. They not only believe in serving their community and their fellow man, but more importantly, they act on it with a firm resolve and unwavering commitment to make a difference.

“They inspire others around them through their actions, their counsel and their encouragement, resonating undeniable passion and the conviction that something seemingly unattainable is indeed possible.

“This is an important message to all of us. We can learn from these outstanding inductees. We are honoured to follow the path of the great men and women who have paved the way for others to provide service to our city and beyond.

“I am proud to tell you that REALTORS® in Manitoba are stepping up more to serve the community. We have thus far raised $225,000 for the Canadian Museum for Human Rights and hope to raise more by attracting other contributions from REALTORS® across the country.

“WinnipegREALTORS® has a housing opportunity partnership initiative in which it has invested heavily. A total of 70 homes have been refurbished or new infill houses built for first-time buyers in Winnipeg’s West End to stabilize and renew the area.

“REALTORS® endorsed a national quality of life philosophy whereby they are committed to improving our quality of life by supporting quality growth that encourages economic vitality, providing housing opportunities and building better communities with good schools and safe neighbourhoods. 

“We do not just sell houses. We care about the people living in them and the communities that we both live, work, play and pray in. Government cannot be left with the burden to do it all. We are proud to partner with our friends in government, at all levels.

“When I served as president of the Manitoba Real Estate Association, I had the distinct pleasure of being involved on the ground floor of setting up the Manitoba Real Estate Association’s Shelter Foundation. It started giving out its first community grants this year. The foundation specializes in shelter-related initiatives, such as affordable housing and homelessness issues. Part of this effort has included work with Siloam Mission, providing Easter dinners and lending support for our homeless.

“The REALTORS Care® fund-raising division hosts its annual golf and fishing tournaments every year in support of the foundation.

“REALTORS® are a committed and dedicated group and this only scratches the surface. 

“The national REALTORS Care® foundation board, of which I sit on, serves as a vehicle for collecting, sharing and promoting the extensive community and charitable contributions made by REALTORS®. We want to bring attention to the many great causes and initiatives from coast to coast, so that we can follow on a path that can lead to a better future for all.

“In the past one and a half years alone, REALTORS® have raised over $10 million.

“I am proud to represent an industry that understands the meaning of community.

“Perhaps it is because we are building them every day and we see the needs and  identify with them. We are a part of their mosaic.  

“This is the reason why our industry likes to get together and celebrate the heroes like the Sol Kanees and our other inductees; because we are thankful for their contributions. They are beacons of light. 

“If we are serious about making this program resonate with our future generations, so they will be motivated to follow in the footsteps of some terrific role models, a good education and pursuit of continuous learning and improvement cannot be stressed enough. 

“For these outstanding citizens all exhibit, in my humble opinion, a real passion and desire to learn and equip themselves with the necessary tools and skills to achieve the feats they did. The success they enjoyed allowed them to help others and the community as a whole.”

President Deb Goodfellow and the over 1,400 REALTOR® members of WinnipegREALTORS® wishes everyone a joyous holiday season and a  prosperous New Year.