The ‘Giving Season’ is a year-round endeavor for builders and Realtors
This time of year, it’s easy to find a way to give to those in need. There are Salvation Army bell ringers at multiple stores, toy bins at the mall and at local businesses and food drives to make sure that everyone will have something for their holiday table this year.
Many members of the local real estate and housing community kick it into high gear this time of year to organize toy and food drives. Major Mortgage will kick off the second annual Toys for Tickets program, inviting all community members to bring in a new, unwrapped toy between Dec. 2 and 20. The toy will go to the Salvation Army for its annual toy drive. Everyone who brings a toy to the mortgage company will be entered in a drawing to win two VIP four-day tickets to the 2014 Major Mortgage Country Jam.
All local real estate companies are also collecting toys, which they deliver to the Grand Junction Area Realtor Association Office. The Salvation Army collects the toys in time for the distribution days on Dec. 19 and 20.
Other Realtors, like Pam Jewkes with Jewkes and Company Real Estate, prefer toy drives and motorcycles. Jewkes is a member of the Western Slope Harley Owners Group, which collects toys and stages a toy run in December. Last year, the local HOG helped 1,872 families and more than 3,200 children.
The holiday season isn’t the only time that real estate and the housing industry give back to the community. Several local charities depend on the generosity of these businesses year round.
“When we were first getting started, Hal (Hal Heath, broker owner of Heath & Co. Realtors) would call me up, take me for a ride in his car and introduce me to people he knew,” said John Mok-Lamme, director of The House, the Grand Junction teen homeless shelter operated by Karis Inc. On those trips, Heath introduced Mok-Lamme to other Realtors and business leaders who helped transform the shelter from a really great idea to a much needed safe place for teens who had no other options.
The House has received quite a bit of help from local construction companies, like Senergy Builders, which donated time and materials to make the shelter habitable.
“Before we opened, Darin (Carei, owner of Senergy Builders) helped put the windows in,” Mok-Lamme said. “He’s on the building committee.”
Mok-Lamme loves to recite stories about all the generous benefactors who made sure The House was ready for its grand opening, like Craig Ginter with United Country and Keller Williams, which provided willing landscape laborers on the company’s annual Red Shirt Day.
No, Red Shirt Day not in honor of the jolly old elf who’s rumored to wear a red suit, it’s because red is the Keller-Williams color. Nationwide, Keller-Williams agents are encouraged to take day off in the spring from selling houses and spend it doing something for a charitable organization that needs help.
“We try and spread it around so it’s not one organization year after year,” said Randy Menge, broker associate for Keller Williams. Menge and his fellow associates have also spent Red Shirt days helping build houses through Habitat for Humanity.
Coldwell Banker Homeowners Realty participates in a nationwide program called Shoes that Fit, buying clothes twice a year for students at a particular elementary school, once in the fall and again in the spring.
“Teachers at Nisley (Elementary) identify kids that need clothing,” said Sharon Vaughn, broker associate with Coldwell Banker. “Last time, we had 72 kids.”
Vaughn said she gets help from other companies like Wells Fargo, Fidelity Mortgage, Abstract and Title, Cherry Creek Mortgage and Guild Mortgage, to buy at least three brand new articles of clothing for every child on the list.
“There are plenty of other kids in other schools,” Vaugn said. “I’m sure there’s a lot more need. If somebody could do it for other schools, that would be great.”
Heiden Homes supports the local Kiwanis Club and HopeWest (formerly Hospice and Palliative Care of Western Colorado). Toni Heiden also serves on the board for the Grand Junction Symphony and on the finance committee for St. Joseph’s Catholic Church.
At RE/MAX 4000, agents are encouraged to get involved in causes they support. Julie Butherus serves as the president of Roice-Hurst Humane Society and is proud of the work the board has done in the last five years. Joe Reed is chairman of the board for the local March of Dimes and is also involved in the Children’s Miracle Network.
“Children’s charities are my passion,” said Reed, who added that the March of Dimes raised more than $90,000 in one night, breaking its goal during the successful Signature Chef Event in October.
Corrina Shirley, another RE/MAX 4000 agent, isn’t a president or a chairman, but takes her duties as the co-leader for the largest Girl Scout Troop on the Western Slope pretty seriously. She’s happy to help the 39 girls in her troop but knows it wouldn’t be possible without all the other leaders.
And then there are RE/MAX agents like Ric Gaines, who grabs his guitar and serenades at Senior Day Break, a day facility that offers respite care for those who are caring for Alzheimer’s patients and other seniors.
“They’re my best listeners,” Gaines said. “They really light up when I play.”
There are hundreds of other individuals and companies in the real estate and housing industry that give back to their community. They understand that they’re part of a larger community and they work to make it a healthy one, full of people who take care of those who can’t care for themselves.