Realtors from Tampa and Fernandina Beach are among the 2023 recipients of the Volunteering Works grants and mentoring program.

CHICAGO – Two Realtors® in Florida are among the recipients of the 15th annual Volunteering Works grants and mentoring program, which matches real estate agents who work on small-scale charitable efforts with mentors who can help them improve and expand their impact.

Pam Graves of Summer House Realty in Fernandina Beach and Daphne Thomas of RE/MAX Alliance Group in Tampa, along with the three other Volunteering Works recipients, will receive a $1,000 seed grant. They will also receive a year of one-on-one mentoring from a member of the Good Neighbor Society, a group made up of past recipients of NAR’s annual Good Neighbor Awards, which is the highest honor the association awards to members involved in community service.

The recipients were selected based on devotion to their communities through volunteer endeavors and the potential for their work to be expanded or improved with the help of a mentor.

“These Volunteering Works recipients are shining examples of the positive impact that real estate professionals make in their communities,” said NAR President Kevin Sears, broker-partner of Sears Real Estate in Springfield, Mass. “Their dedication, compassion and tireless efforts enhance the lives of those they serve and set a standard for community engagement. They will not only grow their initiatives but inspire others to take meaningful action.”

2023 Volunteering Works Grant and Mentoring Recipients:

  • Pam Graves, Summer House Realty, Fernandina Beach

Program: Stirring Hope, Inc.

When Pam Graves met Mary Apio – a former child bride turned self-made chef – while on a mission trip to Uganda, it was their backgrounds in food that connected them. In 2021, Graves and Apio built Sonrisa School of Culinary Arts & Bakery, a cooking school to help other survivors of assault and forced child marriage build a new life. In 2022, the school graduated 22 students.

“After Mary told me her story, and we figured out we had cooking in common, I realized that this is where the lasting change comes in,” Graves said. Graves’ mentor is Dawn Rucinski, a 2021 Good Neighbor Award finalist.

  • Daphne Thomas, RE/MAX Alliance Group, Tampa

Program: Unbroken Dreams, Inc.

Daphne Thomas founded Unbroken Dreams in 2021 to address homelessness and help people rebuild their lives. She has connected hundreds of people with housing resources, runs a cold-weather shelter provides necessities like food, warm clothing and blankets and sometimes buys bus tickets to help reunite people with their families.

 “When people stumble upon rough times, such as homelessness or incarceration, their dreams tend to be forgotten – or broken,” said Thomas. “Unbroken Dreams believes that these dreams are attainable.” Thomas will work with mentor Debbie McCabe, a 2022 Good Neighbor Award finalist.

  • Arlin Fisher, Park Company Realtors, Horace, N.D.

Program: Crosses for Cameron

Arlin Fisher and his wife co-founded two nonprofit organizations in memory of their son who died in a car accident at age 23. Crosses for Cameron educates people about the importance of organ donation. The Garden of Healing, located within a park between two hospitals, was created to facilitate healing through nature.

“Even though this garden stemmed from the loss of Cameron, we want it to be a place of life and living,” said Fisher, who is working with mentor Craig Conant, a 2001 Good Neighbor Award winner.

  • Kyle Olson, Keller Williams Inspire Realty, Fargo, N.D.

Program: Alzheimer’s Association MNND Chapter

For 64 hours straight, Kyle Olson held an open house and raised $10,000 to combat Alzheimer’s – the disease that robbed him of more time with his father, Dewey. The third annual World’s Longest Open House – which featured hourly livestreams and events like Jazzercise and chalk art – is more than a tribute to Olson’s father. It has turned into a bonding experience for Olson and his son, Tucker, who simultaneously hosted the Longest Lemon-aid Stand on-site for 12 hours on the first day.

“It’s fantastic to go from working with my dad as a farmer and having those great memories to now having my son join me to do these fun things for a good cause,” said Olson, who will be mentored by 2013 Good Neighbor Award winner Kristina Rhodes.

  • Glenda Pollard, Pollard Partners LLC, Baton Rouge, La.

Program: Clean Pelican

Glenda Pollard founded Clean Pelican to improve and beautify Baton Rouge. The nonprofit engages local businesses, volunteers and the mayor’s office to organize cleanup days. Through innovative programming in schools, they use technology to teach middle- and high-school students to map areas that need cleanup and track and store what was picked up and by whom.

“I am looking forward to working with Tami to find ways to recruit more volunteers,” said Pollard. Pollard has been paired with mentor Tami Hicks, a 2022 Good Neighbor Award finalist.

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