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Making Community Impact During the Pandemic
Brokers are extending a helping hand with ingenuity and heart to those in their communities negatively affected by COVID-19.
May 28, 2020
Despite societal disruptions caused by the coronavirus, goodness is streaming from many real estate companies across the country. Brokers and their agents are coming up with new ways to support other real estate professionals as well as people and businesses in their communities.
Here are four examples of creative, selfless, and caring acts of kindness REALTORS® have achieved during one of the toughest times Americans have faced in modern history.
Many real estate agents in Los Angeles have seen their income go down, says Anthony Vulin, broker-owner of The Collective Realty. Some in his office have applied for U.S. Small Business Administration loans for financial assistance. But he’s also stepping up to help his agents by establishing a fund called “The Collective Cares,” to help them pay for such things as insurance, internet, or utility bills. Agents can help one another by donating a portion of their commissions to the fund.
“Our agents are like our family, and we are going to keep this fund going after the pandemic is over,” he says.
His office also set up a food pantry, where agents who may have extra food, vitamins, or cleaning supplies can leave them, and agents in need can stop by to pick up what they need.
“It’s gotten to the point where some agents have really hit rock bottom, and anything we can do to ease their stress and help them survive is essential,” he adds.
To show their love and support of residents at New Orleans’ Lambeth House assisted living facility—where 13 people died from COVID-19 in March—three agents from Latter & Blum organized a private concert. Kevin Rouchell, Nina Gensler, and Mari Roberts performed tunes such as “Danny Boy” from the front of the building, receiving applause and cheers from residents looking out from open windows.
Rouchell ended the concert with the interactive song of “That’s Amore,” which he sang in Spanish. The residents clapped, cheered, and yelled, “Bravo!”
“We were able to tell them we love and support them during this time. It was truly incredible,” Roberts says.
Several real estate professionals from various Latter & Blum offices have been making masks for their offices and for local hospitals, hospice care facilities, sheriff’s departments, and veterinary offices. Some agents have also been helping their local schools with the distribution of breakfast and lunch meal boxes.
“Building communities is what Latter & Blum stands for, so it truly warms my heart when I see our agents working so hard to help our communities during this hard time,” says Lacey Merrick Conway, CEO. “I am very proud of our agents for being so helpful and giving back.”
When a local restaurant that was continuing to offer takeout had a deal on a multiple-course Italian dinner, broker-owner George Berick and his associates at Century 21 Lakeside Realty in Austintown, Ohio, saw an opportunity.
“Supporting our first responders is at the top of my list during this time,” says Berick. “So, a group of us from the office went into action, contacting seven police and fire stations throughout our area, which covers about a 45-mile radius.”
They received a headcount of how many people would be in the building that Sunday from 1-3 p.m., gathered all the necessary information, and broke up in teams by county to set up food delivery.
“This all happened within 72 hours. We all suited up in gloves and masks and hit the road,” he states.
Berick also buys 10 pizzas every week from a local pizza shop whose income has been limited to delivery and takeout. Every other week, he delivers the pizzas to essential workers who are risking their lives each day to serve others—health care personnel, police officers, and other first responders. On the alternating weeks, he lets the pizza shop give away the pizzas on Facebook to first-come, first-served patrons, helping the restaurant boost its business while giving back to the greater community.
Fort Lauderdale, Fla.
Feeding the heroes of this pandemic became two agents’ goal. Lara Sahakian, broker-associate at Elite Global Access in Fort Lauderdale, and Kim Knausz, director of VIP sales for the sports & entertainment division at ONE Sotheby’s International Realty, are walking buddies and work in real estate firms right next door to each other. They began their quest by sending boxes of sweet treats to a hospital.
Sahakian and Knausz expanded their efforts by taking to social media and asking others if they’d like to donate money to send meals to unsung heroes at local hospitals. “The response was overwhelming,” Sahakian says.
On March 23, they created a GoFundMe page to expand their reach, with the goal of raising $10,000. They’ve raised $9,757, which has allowed them to pay for thousands of meals and treats for workers at three area hospitals.
“The restaurants we involved were thrilled for the orders and to help,” Sahakian adds. “By posting all the deliveries on Facebook and Instagram, folks would see where the money they donated was going.”