This week at a conference of Tennessee Realtors, I was honored to receive the 2023 Good Neighbor Award for the work that I, alongside my wife Lindsey, have done with Camp Horizon, a camp we started in 2005 for young people who have special needs. My wife Lindsey, a physical therapist at T.C. Thompson Children’s Hospital, saw a need for her patients to experience life without the limitations that their physical handicaps imposed upon them. So, for one weekend each year, campers are invited to step outside their limits and challenge their horizons in the outdoor environment with other kids with similar issues. There’s a lot that goes into making this camp successful, and there are many people who graciously donate their time. Each camper is paired up with a Doctoral candidate student volunteer from the Physical Therapy and Occupational Therapy programs at the University of Tennessee – Chattanooga.
While I am thrilled to receive such an honor, I can’t help but feel humbled to be in the company of previous Good Neighbor Award recipients who have done so much work in their communities. 2022 honoree, Cindy Lockhart of Nashville, a volunteer at Proverbs 12:10 Animal Rescue, has spent hundreds of hours caring, socializing, and training rescued animals. 2021 honoree Holly Swogger of Memphis founded a nonprofit “For Those Who Serve” to work toward establishing a new healthcare facility for military veterans and their families in the Memphis area.
I would be remiss if I didn’t recognize the first ever recipient of the Good Neighbor Award, fellow Chattanoogan Janice Robertson, who founded Snack Pack, a program that provides food for children over the weekend when school meals are not an option. Greater Chattanooga Realtors® admires the work Janice does for our community that we hold multiple fundraising efforts for Snack Pack, along with an annual donation. I also think it says a lot about our state association, Tennessee Realtors®, that they believe in giving back by presenting this award. Tennessee Realtors provides $5,000 to the recipient’s charity, and the winner is entered in the National Association of Realtors (NAR) Good Neighbor Award.
While the work these people have all done might be varied, there is one constant between us all. We are all REALTORS. We all believe in serving and helping others with the resources we’ve been afforded. And the community service provided by REALTORS doesn’t always make the front page. In fact, the Community Aid and Real Estate Report, known as the CARE Report from NAR, shows that 82% of Realtors donate money to charitable causes every year, compared to the national average of 56.6% of Americans who do so. That translates to a huge impact not just in our area, but across the country.
Being a REALTOR is more than just planting a “For Sale” or “Sold” sign in a yard. It’s working to make things better for everyone. I’ve heard many times over the years that REALTORS serve as ambassadors to their communities, and I believe that wholeheartedly. We serve the needs of homeowners and those wishing to attain homeownership. All REALTORS are good neighbors, and we truly love where we live. That’s Who We R.