Pictured above, Left to right: Rachel Donovan, Rosemary Freelin, Morgan Cannaday-Henson, Yvonne Oselio, Jackie Bregman
By Glen Rosales for ABQ Journal/Homestyle
When you are a member of the Greater Albuquerque Association of Realtors® (GAAR), being a good neighbor isn’t just a catch phrase, it’s a given and it also comes with a reward. GAAR is in the second year in honoring its Good Neighbors program, which chooses four Realtors®, and one affiliate member.
“Usually Good Neighbors not only put a lot of money into it, but they spend a lot of hours and a lot of spare time putting into their charities.” said Eva Medcroft, GAAR Manager of Communications and Outreach. “Since Realtors® give back to the community, and they have helped build Albuquerque, literally since its inception in 1921, this is a way to help the community recognize everything that our Realtor® members do.”
The program has been on the national level for some time, she said, and now is in its second year in Albuquerque. The purpose of the Good Neighbor program is to identify Realtors® that go above and beyond for local charities,” Medcroft said.
As an added bonus, each Good Neighbor recipient’s charity receives a $500 grant from GAAR, she said.
Yvonne Oselio, RE/MAX
Children’s Miracle Network
Oselio coordinates a branch-wide fundraising effort, with proceeds going to the UNM Hospital’s children’s center. “We started nine years ago as just a small crafts show we put together,” she said. “At the beginning it was to collect toys for the local kids and in the last five years it’s turned into something much bigger.” While Oselio reluctantly accepted the recognition for the award, she said it was a team effort. “It’s a whole group of us that make it happen,” she said. “The crafters we collect funds from them for their table spaces. Title companies, lenders, 10 of us in our office. It takes all of us to put it all together.”
More than 50 artisans, as well businesses like First Mortgage Co., Stewart Title, Old Republic Title and Fidelity National Title come together to make the craft show happen, which last year raised about $7,400, Oselio said. “It’s all about the kids,” she said. “Our office is totally about the community. We love to give back. We have a lot of different events for first responders and veterans. We believe a small group united together can make a lot happen.”
Jackie Bregman, Bregman Real Estate
Southwest Women’s Law Center
Safeguarding women’s rights is important now, perhaps more than ever, Bregman said, given the current political climate. “Women are feeling a lot more vulnerable to attack on whether their rights are going to be infringed by this administration,” she said. “So it’s really important right now to stay focused and make sure our rights are not eroded and we don’t go back to the 19th Century.”
That’s exactly what the Southwest Women’s Law Center aims to do, Bregman said, as it pushes an initiative of “one woman, one case, once a year,” to advance women’s equality in areas such as fair pay, health care access, pregnancy accommodations in the work place and family medical leave.
Bregman has been on the organization’s board of directors for about two years, helping raise money and awareness for the organization and its goals, she said. The organization has a $200,000 Kellogg grant to help its mission and is raising matching funds for the grant, Bregman said.
“We have a group of lawyers reviewing cases on a pro bono basis for us,” she said. “If we identify really strong cases for women, we go out and ask other lawyers to take on these cases and the Kellogg Foundation funds help pay for the litigation expenses so that we can take these cases through the courts.”
Rosemary Freelin, Sunrise Realty
Rio Grande Valley Blue Star Mothers
When Freelin’s daughter entered the military years ago, she decided she needed to do something to support the military effort. “It was right before Christmas,” she recalled. “I heard an advertisement on the radio about Blue Star Mothers and what they were. I met several other Blue Star moms and have been with them ever since.”
The organization sends quarterly care packages to the troops stationed overseas to help ease their burden of being away from home, Freelin said.
“We need green chile, jerky, tuna, individual servings like cocoa packs, sugars and teas that troops can carry on their bodies when they’re out in the field because their food isn’t always so good,” she said. “We have moms do crafts. We have moms who do neck coolers – and that is a very precise job. Everything is done to precision. We have moms that clean up the warehouse. I’ve done almost everything through the course of 10 years.”
Right now Freelin is the second vice president in charge of fundraising; which is a big task because four times a year the organization packs up about 300 boxes of stuff full of goodies and mails them to foreign locales, to the tune of about $21,000, she said.
Rachel Donovan, VanDyk Mortgage Corp.
Albuquerque Regional Community Chaplain’s Corps
Donovan is a member of the organization that serves a variety of needs in the community, helping others in their most dire time of need. “We’re gap pluggers, so to speak,” she said. “The fire department will do their thing and police will do their part, and we stay there. A lot of times people just need to cry or they’re under stress and a lot of times they just need somebody there to help them. Sometimes you don’t even talk a whole lot.”
It’s a task that requires a lot of training and sometimes, time, said Donovan, who put in about 400 hours of volunteer time in 2015. “We’re crisis trained, both individually and as a group,” she said. “We have a lot of emergency response training so we can cover a wide variety of circumstances. We’re just a calming presence to help people.” Since the organization is volunteer-driven, it’s a bare-bones operation. “We don’t have a lot of different fundraising events,” Donovan said. “We run on a very shallow budget, that’s why it was important and so nice to get the donation from GAAR and the Good Neighbor program.”
Morgan Cannaday-Henson, Ida Kelly Realty
Cannaday-Henson knows first-hand just how easy it can be for somebody to wind up homeless. “Society in general has a really negative stigma when it comes to homelessness; that they did that to themselves, or that would never happen to me,” she said.
My dad, when I was very young, was diagnosed with brain cancer. My mom, although college educated and went to law school, was a stay at home at mom. He passed away within a matter of weeks and my mom was left with two young kids, no job or income and totally underwater in medical bills. If it wasn’t for her family allowing us to live with them, we would have been homeless.”
So when she heard about Heading Home, a program designed to get people off the streets and into their own living spaces, Cannaday-Henson jumped in wholeheartedly.
“It was not this temporary band aid,” she said. “They provide a permanent solution. And it sounds silly, but the solution to homelessness is a home. Housing first model to put a roof over somebody’s head, then give them the resources they need, whether it be help with addiction, mental illness, just finding a new job, medical needs, anything that it takes to help them become a contributing member of society again. Their success rate with that is almost 90 percent.”