5 REALTORS® Receive Funds, Mentorship for Charitable Efforts

May 9, 2018

The National Association of REALTORS®’ Good Neighbor Society announced the recipients of this year’s Volunteering Works grants and mentoring program Wednesday. The program matches NAR members who are looking to bootstrap small-scale charitable efforts with the help of experienced mentors and funding.

The five Volunteering Works recipients will receive a $1,000 seed grant and a year of one-on-one mentoring from a past recipient of NAR’s Good Neighbor Awards, a program that recognizes REALTORS® for extraordinary volunteer service.

The idea behind the Volunteering Works program, which is celebrating its 10th year, is to help real estate pros build on the successes of their charitable efforts early on and help to grow nascent groups into more effective organizations. “This year’s recipients are true examples of committed individuals who recognize needs in their community and have the drive to make a real difference,” says NAR President Elizabeth Mendenhall. “Working with Good Neighbors as mentors will create more opportunities to pursue and grow their cause for years to come, and NAR is proud to support those volunteers by offering mentoring, guidance, and funding."

The 2018 recipients of Volunteering Works grants and mentoring services are:


Carl Carter Jr. of RE/MAX Elite in North Little Rock, Ark., is determined to help make the real estate profession safer. After the tragic murder of his mother, Beverly Carter, in 2014, he founded the Beverly Carter Foundation, which raises safety awareness through consulting, training, and support at little or no charge to MLSs, associations, and brokerages. Mentor and 2001 Good Neighbor Award winner Ron Phipps of Phipps Realty Inc. in Warwick, R.I., will help Carter expand his training program by creating a national network of ambassadors and developing coursework.



In 2016, Deborah SeBour, RE/MAX New Beginnings Real Estate Co. in Baltimore, and her son founded The Veterans Housing Organization to help those who have served in the military buy, sell, or rent a home. She helps families find affordable housing, negotiates reduced interest rates with mortgage lenders, and finds home purchase discounts for veterans. After property closings, SeBour gifts additional funds as a thank you for military service. SeBour will seek guidance on obtaining grants and expanding her networking efforts from mentor and 2015 Good Neighbor Barbara Mills of RE/MAX Realty One in Inverness, Fla.



Al Mejia, broker of Legacy Fifteen Real Estate Brokers in Rancho Santa Margarita, Calif., worked with his wife to found Donovan’s SMILE in 2014, after they lost their 4-year-old son to a rare form of brain cancer. Since then, Mejia has tried to ease the pain for children and families going through cancer treatment by organizing toy drives and holiday parties. To help Mejia with his goal to create a steadier source of revenue and establish art therapy and financial assistance programs, mentor and 2016 Good Neighbor Susan Helsinger, with Douglas Elliman Real Estate in Merrick, N.Y., will guide him through the process of setting up a board and expanding fundraising efforts.



Three years ago, Jerry Pinkas of Jerry Pinkas Real Estate Experts in Myrtle Beach, S.C., worked with his wife and a group of volunteers to start the Myrtle Beach Pinball Museum. They set up pinball machines at local charities, which in turn collect donations for children’s autism programs in the area. The plan is to establish a permanent museum and form a board, goals that mentor and 2013 Good Neighbor Winner Tina McDonough, RE/MAX Select, Renton, Wa., will assist with throughout the coming year.



In fall 2016, Cathy Weil of Coldwell Banker Horizons Realty in Corning, N.Y., developed the Baby Bank to help low-income families obtain diapers and other child care necessities. She also takes time to teach money-saving skills to others so they can help serve more families. Weil will seek guidance from her mentor and 2016 Good Neighbor Awards Honorable Mention Pam Harrison, RE/MAX Executive, Millersville, Maryland, on how to obtain 501(c)3 status and enable online fundraising for the organization.


As a 2017 Volunteering Works mentoring recipient and founder of Community Miracle Makeover, Vickie Lobo of RE/MAX Champions of Upland, Calif., can attest to the difference a year of support from the program can offer a fledgling organization: “My mentee advised me on how to get my nonprofit up and running and shared insight on how I can get even more involved in my community.”

The 2018 Volunteering Works program is sponsored by Wells Fargo Home Mortgage. “Wells Fargo is delighted to team up with NAR to recognize the volunteerism and leadership of REALTORS® who make a meaningful difference in their communities,” said Martin Sundquist, executive director of the Wells Fargo Housing Foundation. “They create opportunities to accelerate the impact local nonprofits can make.”  

—REALTOR® Magazine