FORT MYERS, Fla. – Every year, Elizabeth “Liz” Paul, a broker-associate with RE/MAX Realty Group in Fort Myers, visits the offices of the Children’s Advocacy Center of Southwest Florida, a cause she’s been supporting since 1992. And, each visit moves her and inspires her to do more.
“They have a wall that’s made up of pictures that symbolize abused children who were killed or died. It’s so moving. That wall reinforces why I’m involved,” says Paul.
The Children’s Advocacy Center of Southwest Florida (CACSF) offers protection and programs for abused children. Paul was president of the CACSF from 2001 to 2003 and currently sits on the board of directors. “We aim to stop the cyclical abuse,” says Paul, who’s been in real estate for almost 25 years.
Because of the confidential nature of the cases and the clients, it’s not possible for volunteers to physically interact with the children. So, Paul does anything and everything else she can. From developing and implementing fundraising activities to making important policy decisions, she spends several hours a week with the CACSF.
In fact, when the organization bought a building a few years ago and renovated it, Paul was instrumental in securing the property and helping with the renovation project. She was also on the capital committee to raise funds for the new building.
“We have an after-school program in some of the lower income, distressed neighborhoods,” Paul says.
Perhaps her favorite activities, however, revolve around the holidays. She serves the Thanksgiving meal and looks forward to adopting a family every Christmas. Each Thanksgiving, the CACSF puts together a feast for the kids and families it helps, which includes traditional holiday fare and ethnic favorites.
Paul explains, “We personally serve the food. It’s amazing, we have hundreds of people show up, and it’s fun to see how it evolved. We added some Hispanic foods and did away with stuffing and green beans at the request of the families.”
Paul has made such an impact on The Children’s Advocacy Center of Southwest Florida that in 2004, an award was created in her honor. The Elizabeth Paul award is given periodically to a volunteer who demonstrates the qualities of leadership, commitment and the willingness to go above and beyond for the benefit of the Center and the kids.
“They’ve given it four or five times over the years,” says Paul. “It’s such an honor to have this award named after me.”
In addition, she’s been named Humanitarian of the Year by the Realtor® Association of Greater Fort Myers and the Beaches and was named Associate Realtor of the Year by Florida Realtors.
Currently, Paul is encouraging her fellow Realtors to donate stuffed animals to the Center. “There’s an ongoing need for stuffed animals. In times of crisis, these kids need something to hold onto. They serve as emotional support for the kids,” she says.
In addition to her work with the Center, Paul donates money out of every paycheck to support Children’s Miracle Network.
Paul says she is thankful for the CACSF.
"It’s helped make me more aware of the people out there who need help,” she says. “These are good people caught in unfortunate circumstances. As Realtors, we sell homes and we connect with families. We are a part of the community and must do something for the greater good of that community."
Liz Paul is as dedicated to her profession as she is to helping others. She was named Florida Realtors® Associate Realtor of the Year in 2006, which is an award given in recognition of an individual’s contributions to their local Realtor organization, community, the state Realtor association and the National Association of Realtors® (NAR). Paul also has taken additional education courses to enhance her knowledge and expertise, earning the professional designations of Certified Residential Specialist (CRS) and Graduate, Realtor Institute (GRI).