Local Realtor Named Finalist For National Volunteer Award

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Ten realtors were announced Wednesday by the National Association of Realtors as finalists for Realtors Magazine’s 2009 Good Neighbor Awards, including Regina Ragon of Flintstone.

Now in its 10th year, the Good Neighbor Awards program recognizes realtors who volunteer their time to help others. These realtors often donate countless hours and dollars to organizations that help those in need and make their community a better place to live.

In November, five winners will be selected from among the 10 finalists and will receive travel expenses to the 2009 Realtors Conference & Expo in San Diego, national media exposure for their community cause, and a $10,000 grant for their charity. Five honorable mentions will receive a $2,500 grant. The winners will be announced in the November issue of Realtor Magazine.

“Realtors build communities and play an important volunteer role for organizations across the country, helping improve the quality of life for those less fortunate or in need,” said NAR President Charles McMillan, a realtor and broker with Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage, Dallas-Fort Worth. “Despite today’s busy world, the Good Neighbor Awards finalists still find ways to give their time in service to others. They are truly inspiring and deserve to be recognized for their hard work.”

The Realtor Good Neighbor Awards finalists are:

Regina Ragon, Prudential Realty Center, Flintstone, Ga., Latin American Community Development
After a 2004 mission trip to Nicaragua, Ms. Ragon was inspired to improve living conditions and find ways for local residents to become more self-sufficient. This year she built and staffed a medical clinic in the village of Calihuate, obtaining more than $40,000 worth of used medical equipment from the U.S. She also supports the local school, providing electricity, computers and books and even securing bars on the windows and doors so the students would not have to carry their desks back and forth to prevent them from being stolen. Ms. Ragon also created a sewing cooperative to help local women earn an income.

Greg Adamson, Prudential Utah Real Estate, American Fork, Utah, Utah Heart 2 Home
Inspired by the national home makeover television show, Mr. Adamson has led 10 local home makeover projects for deserving needy families since 2004, generating $2.5 million in donations and materials from the community. He also converted a 33-foot trailer into a mobile medical unit, which has provided healthcare services to thousands of people without insurance. Mr. Adamson has also led bone marrow testing drives that have added over 2,000 people to the national registry and found a match for a 16-year-old girl.

Margaret Pruitt Clark, Ken Meade Realty Inc., Surprise, Az., Eve’s Place
Ms. Clark is founder of Eve’s Place, a safe house that provides hope and security to victims of domestic violence and their children. Since 2005, Eve’s Place has grown from a small office staffed by volunteers to a 40-bed shelter that offers a 24-hour crisis hotline, professional counseling, support groups and transitional housing. Until 2007, Ms. Clark served as volunteer president and executive director and was in charge of hiring and training all staff and volunteers and leading fundraising efforts that enabled the organization to grow. In 2008, Eve’s Place provided 155 women and 96 children with 5,335 bed nights of shelter.

Diana J. Croteau, Sun Mountain Properties, Williams, Az., Williams Needs an Angel
Ms. Croteau is an angel to many in her small tourist town of 3,000 residents. A dedicated volunteer with a talent for fundraising, Ms. Croteau raised $200,000 to build a new playground at the Williams Elementary School after the old one was condemned due to safety concerns. After a tragic car accident took the lives of five local teens she mobilized the community to raise $55,000 in three days to help the victims’ families. Ms. Croteau also chairs the town’s annual 6-week Christmas festival, which draws thousands of people and much-needed revenue to the area.

David E. Dalzell, Dalzell Realtors, Abilene, Tx., FaithWorks of Abilene Inc.
Mr. Dalzell is active in many areas of FaithWorks, a nonprofit dedicated to serving the unemployed. He teaches life skills training Bible study classes and runs God’s Workshop, which provides free furniture to formerly homeless families. Mr. Dalzell also provides FaithWorks’ building rent-free, and often makes available free or reduced-rent housing and internships to people trying to put their lives on a positive path. In addition to his commitment to FaithWorks, Mr. Dalzell is chairman of the Workforce Solutions Board of West Central Texas, and was a board director of Meals on Wheels of Abilene for 28 years.

Cindy Johnson, Dona Christensen Realty, Woodbury, Mn., The Arc of Minnesota
For more than 20 years, Ms. Johnson has been a volunteer advocate and lobbyist at the local, state, and national level for The Arc, an organization that helps people with intellectual and other disabilities get the individual services they need to live a full life. Motivated by her own experience as the mother and sister of people with disabilities, her passion is to enable people to live, learn, work, and play in their own communities rather than be doomed to life in an institution. Ms. Johnson successfully lobbied to prevent $50 million in cuts to services for 57,000 disabled Minnesotans. Her role as national public policy chair impacts 15 million people nationwide.

Helen Marotto, EXIT Homeplace Realty, Hampstead, N.C., Cape Fear Guardian Ad Litem Association
Ms. Marotto has been a court–appointed advocate for more than 152 abused, neglected and abandoned children during the past 10 years. She serves as the voice of the child in family court, helping judges make life-changing decisions on behalf of children in the foster care system by recommending a permanent plan for each child; either reuniting a child with parents, placing with relatives or another caregiver, or making available for adoption. She has contributed to many successful outcomes by getting to know each child and fulfilling his or her individual needs, whether that means obtaining high-quality medical care for a disabled child or locating an abandoned child’s long-lost relatives by scouring phone books and cemetery records.

Michelle M. Phaup, Clarkston Realty Inc., Clarkston, Mi., Lend a Helping Hand Inc.
Inspired by a colleague’s 12–year–old granddaughter who was diagnosed with terminal cancer, Ms. Phaup began her mission to help ease the financial burden of families faced with catastrophic illness. Since 1989, Ms. Phaup has sponsored fundraising events that have raised more than $2 million to help individuals pay for uncovered medical expenses. Ms. Phaup also serves as a canine foster mom, and writes a newspaper column spotlighting outstanding local charities and volunteers.

Jeffrey Davidson Schrager, Realty Blue Inc., Fresno, Ca., Community Housing Council of Fresno
Mr. Schrager is founder and developer of No Homeowner Left Behind, a model foreclosure prevention initiative that has trained more than 300 housing industry professionals to provide volunteer counseling to homeowners who are having problems paying their mortgage. NHLB, which has helped more than 6,000 people facing foreclosure, has a crisis hotline and a website that offers information on foreclosure prevention in six languages. Mr. Schrager has helped start NHLB chapters in four counties, with four more in progress, and developed a free tool kit to help other chapters get started. He personally obtained grants worth over $800,000.

Samuel Thomas Jr., Imani Realty & Associates, Willingboro, N.J., QUEST Community Outreach
While most people look forward to feasting with loved ones and friends on holidays, Mr. Thomas and his volunteers will be preparing food for people they don’t even know. Thomas founded QUEST in 1977 and for 32 years has been the volunteer executive director. QUEST provides hot meals and emergency food assistance to 200 people each Monday, a total of 10,000 meals a year. In addition to the soup kitchen and food pantry, QUEST provides 700 families with holiday “Love Baskets” filled with turkeys and all the trimmings, delivers meals to shut-ins and the homeless, and provides furniture, toys, clothing and outreach to the families of prison inmates.

“Many organizations are struggling in the current economy and need the support of volunteers more than ever,” said NAR Vice President of Publications and Realtor Magazine Editorial Director Pamela Geurds Kabati. “The Good Neighbor finalists demonstrate the powerful, positive impact that volunteering can have and hopefully inspires more people to engage in volunteer service.”

Realtor Magazine’s Good Neighbor Awards is sponsored by eNeighborhoods, Homes.com, and Lowe’s. In addition to the grant awards, each of the Good Neighbor Award winners will receive a $1,500 Lowe’s gift card and each of the honorable mentions will receive a $500 Lowe’s gift card.

Nominees were judged on their personal contribution of time, as well as financial and material contributions, to benefit their cause. To be eligible, nominees must be NAR members in good standing.

More information about the Good Neighbor Awards finalists is available at www.realtor.org/realtormag.

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