JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Several years ago, Andrew Bell, broker-owner of NextHome Assurance Realty in Jacksonville, was asked to dress up as the Blues Brothers and perform with a friend at a Women’s Council of Realtors® event. “I thought, ‘well, I guess this works as my friend (Peter Gruenther) was tall and thin like Dan Aykroyd, and I resembled Jim Belushi (the original Blues Brothers),” says Bell. “We were such a hit that people started asking us to perform at other events.”
One event was for the Realtors® Political Action Committee. “It was at the Pink Flamingo Lounge, so we decided to dress in pink suits,” he says. “People were off their rocker; they loved us,” he says.
Bell decided that they should take advantage of the popularity and the pink suits to do something positive in the community.
“Obviously, the pink suit ties in with breast cancer,” he says.
Through his research, Bell met Jeri Millard, founder of In The Pink.
“It’s a store that provides things people need when they go through chemo and have cancer, like mastectomy bras, wigs, lotions and more. They also have head-shaving parties and yoga,” says Bell, who notes that In The Pink is not just for those with breast cancer, it’s for any type of cancer. “They not only provide physical support but emotional support as well. What I liked the most is that Jeri told me that no matter whether the person has insurance or not, they all get the same stuff. They were providing a service to people who didn’t have the money to get what those with insurance would be able to get easily.”
He says, “We’re in real estate. It’s all about the community. So, with In The Pink, all of the money raised stays in the community. In fact, for every dollar raised, a dollar goes toward helping local people with cancer.”
For Bell and Gruenther, it was the perfect fit.
“Wherever Jeri needs us and whenever Jeri needs us, we’re there to raise awareness and money,” Bell says. “For several years, we had a float in our local Beaches Parade. We’ll perform at a chili cookoff fundraiser, we’ll emcee events. With the last chili cookoff, more than $24,000 was raised. That wasn’t just from us. It’s a whole team that puts on this event.”
For Bell, participating in a charity that helps people in the community is vital.
He adds, “I believe local monies raised should stay in our community. Of course, I want to help everyone, but too often, with bigger charities, you’re sending a quarter of the money out of state. I want to make an impact where I live and work. Let’s go out and raise awareness. Let’s create a buzz. Let’s create some excitement and get people to dig deep into their pockets because the money that they’re spending is helping people here in our community.”
However, Bell says, “the true unsung heroes are the people who we’re helping raise awareness for, and that’s all that matters.”
For more information on In The Pink, go to https://jaxinthepink.com/location/jacksonville-beach/
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Bob Caldwell, left, accepts his 2019 Humanitarian Award from Florida Realtors President Eric Sain during the awards luncheon at the recent convention.
ORLANDO, Fla., Sept. 10, 2019 — Proving that Realtors® make a difference in their communities, Robert W. “Bob” Caldwell III, a member of the Orlando Regional Realtor Association, has received Florida Realtors®’ 2019 Humanitarian Award. The award was presented during the state association’s recent annual Convention & Trade Expo at Rosen Shingle Creek in Orlando, Fla.
Prior to becoming a Realtor, Caldwell was a certified fireman and emergency medical technician (EMT). For years, he has been the Realtor to call when it comes to the aftermath of hurricanes and other natural disasters. He’s one of the first to respond and run to the area to see how he and other Realtors can help: He rallies the troops, picks up supplies, helps with cleanup and whatever else is needed in the recovery efforts.
Within the first days after Hurricane Michael hit the Panhandle on Oct. 10, 2018, Caldwell was packing his truck and calling Realtor volunteers to join him in taking relief supplies to the area. He and the other volunteers drove seven hours to offer their help, remaining in the area for four days with little sleep and virtually no access to electricity.
Once he returned to Orlando, Caldwell knew help was still needed, so he organized a second trip to the Panhandle to help Floridians there who were homeless, had no power and no access to clean water.
After that second trip, Debbie Ashbrook, CEO of the Central Panhandle Association of Realtors, wrote the following: “Bob Caldwell is a true humanitarian. I had the pleasure of meeting Bob when he came to my area to help with relief efforts following Hurricane Michael. He is the true picture of personal sacrifice. He even slept in the parking lot in between doing all the work to help hurricane victims.”
Caldwell also volunteered with recovery efforts in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina in 2005 and was instrumental in organizing the National Association of Realtors’ Habitat for Humanity build of 52 homes in New Orleans just before the NAR annual convention there during the same year. In the past, he has served as a trustee on Florida Realtors Disaster Relief Fund and is currently in his second term as a trustee for NAR’s Realtor Relief Foundation.
He currently serves as chair of his local Realtor association’s charitable foundation and has long been a supporter of Habitat for Humanity. He also has been a Little League baseball coach, umpire and board member for 12 years, a member of the North Orange County Development Association for 24 years and a member of the Committee of 100 for Orange County. He volunteers with Relay for Life and is a multiple Gallon Club member for the Florida Blood Bank. Caldwell also was awarded the U.S. Coast Guard’s Merit Award for Bravery – an honor he holds dear.
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PALM HARBOR – Broker associate Jodi Avery, of Keller Williams Realty in Palm Harbor, fielded the same question from sellers over and over: What can I do with the useable items I don’t want to take with me when I move?Read More »
Getting the Pensacola Water Safety Day off to a fun start are Harry Walker, shown at left, and Jack Lynch, right, with their friend, Howard the Duck.
PENSACOLA, Fla. – Summertime means swimming and sun for Florida children. It’s only natural that water safety courses would be plentiful in the Sunshine State, and it seems most kids should know how to swim in their toddler years. But, that’s not always the case.Read More »
WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. – As a child, Paul Snitkin’s father taught him many lessons. According to Snitkin, vice president, broker and head of the commercial real estate division of Anderson & Carr in West Palm Beach, the two most important were that, one, there are no short cuts in life; you must work hard. And the second? Giving back to the community is vital.Read More »
Actor G.W. Bailey, from the TV show Major Crimes, is pictured with Naples Realtor Rick Fioretti at a recent event for the Sunshine Kids Foundation.
NAPLES, Fla. — In 2002, Rick Fioretti was introduced to the Sunshine Kids Foundation and immediately made serving the organization a brokerage-wide goal.Read More »
Realtor Tamara Williams, shown in the back row, center, is pictured with several participants in the local Pace Center for Girls program, along with other organizers and volunteers.
WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. – Tamara Williams, broker/owner of Sweet Life Realty Group in West Palm Beach, is a giver. “I come from a family that gives back. From the time I could drive myself, I would go to nursing homes (to visit the elderly residents),” she says.
BRADENTON, Fla. – As a real estate professional, Tony Barrett knows what it’s like for buyers who have trouble affording a home, especially military veterans. “Closing costs and downpayments are two obstacles that are frustrating for veteran homebuyers,” says Barrett, broker-owner of Barrett Realty in Bradenton.
So, Barrett is doing something about it with Heroes Welcome Home, a non-profit that helps veterans get closing cost and downpayment assistance as well as help with rent and utilities.
The idea came after working with a Marine who was looking for a home.
“In 2012, I met a kid named Mike McGowan. He came back from active duty as a Marine. He was looking for a home, and, through a city of Bradenton bond program, was given $10,000 for downpayment assistance. We went through the process, got him prequalified, and found a home. Everything was going well with financing until they told him he had an insufficient work history to qualify,” he says.
Barrett, who is also a veteran – an Army combat medic and a member of the Army Reserves – made several phone calls that were dead ends. “I was trying to educate the banks about veterans and their needs. I figured it was easier to start something on my own,” he says.
Unfortunately, McGowen lost around $1,000 in the cost of inspections and appraisals over that home. Soured on the experience, McGowen still hasn’t bought a home, says Barrett.
That experience prompted Barrett to take action. “I was devastated after Mike lost his money, and I didn’t know how else to help. When I was in the military, credit was easy. You could buy cars and furniture,” he says.
Barrett, his wife Kelly and a firefighter friend, Rob Riganati, started Heroes Welcome Home in 2013. It’s now officially a 501c3 organization,” Barrett notes. The program helps with closing cost assistance up to $3,000 for veterans who qualify.
“It’s a hand up, not a handout. Not everyone qualifies. There are limitations on the price of the home. We also recently expanded into different assistance programs, including helping World War II veterans on home repairs, and working with homeless vets to get help with rent and utilities,” says Barrett.
The very first veteran the program helped needed $2,500 to close on his home. “We issued him a check. He told me now he could afford a washer and dryer,” he says.
Heroes Welcome Home has helped about 20 veterans to date. The program now raises money through golf tournaments and other community events. Many of the veterans who received help now volunteer to staff events.
And, in 2017, The Realtor® Association of Sarasota and Manatee chose Heroes Welcome Home as its giving partner. “They raised over $5,000 for us and volunteered at our events,” Barrett recalls.
However, it’s often difficult to give away money to vets, he says, noting “they don’t want to take the money as they are proud.”
Regardless, Barrett is available to get them credit counseling and other services if they are willing to accept the help. “We reach out to vet-owned companies and ask them to help with the work on the homes in disrepair or volunteer for our events,” he says.
“I want to do anything I can do to thank these men and women for serving our country,” says Barrett.
To learn more about Heroes Welcome Home, go to httpss://www.heroeswelcomehomefl.com/
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HOLLYWOOD, Fla. – Volunteering is not new to Ellen Mitchel, team leader of Prestige Properties Team and an agent with RE/MAX Advanced Realty in Hollywood. After all, she’s a licensed foster parent, is active with the Special Olympics in her area, and worked with the Department of Children and Family Services collecting and delivering holiday gifts for underprivileged families. But, it was a family vacation that truly was her “a-ha” moment.Read More »
ORLANDO, Fla., Sept. 7, 2016 — Blaine Elmer, a member of the Royal Palm Coast Realtor Association, has been named Florida Realtors® 2016 Newcomer of the Year. Elmer is a sales associate with Jones & Co. Realty in Fort Myers, Fla.Read More »