Shelter foundation — REALTORS® reaching out to help others make a difference in the communities they serve

by Roberta Weiss
Everyone would agree that safety and comfort are basic necessities of life, though we may not always realize how difficult day-to-day existence can be for some. Five years ago, a group of REALTORS® realized there was a role to be played — in an organized fashion — to reach out and help others in our neighbourhoods and make a real difference through shelter-related issues. 
 In the Manitoba Real Estate Association Shelter Foundation’s five short years of existence, REALTORS® and others have contributed to group homes for the mentally challenged, assisted new immigrants, supported sanctuaries for victims of abuse, and helped those living with addictions.
Hannon Bell, incoming foundation chair, and I feel very fortunate to have spent a day in November distributing this year’s grant cheques to five very deserving organizations.
Anna and Debra, representatives from Nova House, were thrilled to receive their grant. Nova House, located in Teulon, has been providing shelter for abused women and children since 1985, offering counselling, support groups, and community resources.  
We travelled to the North End Women’s Centre, which has been in operation for over 25 years. Our foundation grant enabled lobby flooring to be installed in their new transitional housing project, a residence which will assist women to move towards independence.  
Siloam Mission, a long-standing beacon of hope for Winnipeg’s homeless, recently purchased the Madison Memorial Lodge, and our grant will enable a chair-lift to be installed for those needing assistance. Floyd Perras, executive director, explained how our grant will help some of our fellow citizens, who were previously homeless, move toward self-sufficient lifestyles.
Our foundation also gave a grant to Habitat for Humanity for a home to be built in Portage la Prairie in 2012. Last year, we contributed towards a build in Virden, and the Garcia and Horn families recently moved in to their new homes.
Our final stop was at Esther House, a second-stage addictions recovery house for women. Esther House has a remarkable success rate, and we are so happy to be a part of the great work they do. We stayed for coffee and cake, and several residents of the house were good enough to share their stories with us. 
As I come to the end of my term as chair, I would like to say thank-you to everyone who has supported and donated to our foundation, and to pass along the gratitude Hannon and I felt while visiting these very deserving organizations.
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