REALTORS® recognize exceptional volunteer at awards

by Todd Lewys

Year-in, year-out, Realtors use their expertise to help people sell their home or find a new one.

However, there’s much more to Realtors than facilitating real estate transactions. Because they’re in communities around the city every day, they get a firsthand view of what their needs are.

Not surprisingly, one of the most pressing needs is the need for shelter.

“As Realtors, we believe that having access to quality housing is a human right,” says Manitoba Real Estate

Association (MREA) Shelter Foundation chair Jeff Stern. “Realtors truly care about the communities they work in and want to give something back.”

With that in mind, MREA formed its Shelter Foundation, a vehicle that was created to support Manitoba charities that are devoted to shelter-related causes.

One of those causes is the Salvation Army, which, it turns out, was looking to improve upon its ability to provide shelter to needy folks at its Booth Centre headquarters.

That need was met through the assistance of a rather

unlikely source – a fellow by the name of Mark Abbott, who was once himself in dire straits, needing shelter during a down period in his life.

Fortunately for Abbott, the Salvation Army was there to lend him a helping hand during his time of need.

He then paid that forward in a big way by volunteering his time to help develop a new multi-purpose emergency shelter space at Salvation Army Booth Centre.

His efforts didn’t go unnoticed by the MREA’s Shelter Committee.

“Every year we hand out an award, so there’s a call out for (volunteer) nominations,” explains Stern. “Mark was among the submissions we received. There was lots of tough competition, as there are so many giving people. You want to pick everyone, but in the end, you want to try and pick the most exceptional individual.”

After much deliberation, the Shelter Committee decided that individual was Abbott.

“He struck a ‘yes’ chord several times over with all of us,” says Stern. “His efforts were monumental.”

Fellow nomination committee member and Realtor Roger Burns agrees.

“He was a great candidate. He was part of the system, then chose to give back. That’s a big deal for us. Mark is a great success story in that he received, and then gave back.”

Ultimately, Abbott’s efforts helped pave the way for the creation of a shelter that supported an additional 24 people each night.

Stern says Abbott was very modest about his role in making the new shelter a reality.

“He was just so genuine when I spoke with him at the Volunteer Manitoba Awards (held April 19 at Victoria Inn Hotel & Convention Centre). He didn’t like the notoriety – he just said he liked being there to help and was happy to pay back the organization that helped him out in his time of need.”

Make no mistake about it, Abbott’s efforts will help

others out in their time of need.

“It’s no small thing, helping to create a place where an additional 24 people can get a roof over their head when they’re vulnerable and need shelter,” says Stern.

In turn, Stern was delighted to present a plaque to

Abbott in recognition of his efforts – and a cheque from the Shelter Foundation to the Salvation Army in the amount of $2,500.

“We were just thrilled,” he says. “It’s a great feeling to

be able to do what we can as Realtors to help out shelter-

related organizations and put back something into the

community we do business in.”

Last year, Realtors truly gave back, as the MREA’s Shelter Foundation – which has been supporting shelter-related charities for 10 years – handed out 11 grants to organizations specializing in providing shelter for needy individuals.