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Realtor® Volunteering Works Program Announces 2012 Winners

Media Contact: Sara Geimer / 312/329-8296 / Email

Media Contact: Leanne High / 202-383-1290 / Email

WASHINGTON (May 29, 2012) - Realtors® build communities in part by dedicating their time and resources to improving the lives of their neighbors as well as others across the country. Volunteering Works, an annual program that matches Realtors® who work on small-scale charitable efforts with mentors and awards them seed money, helps Realtors® expand their reach within their communities. The program recently announced this year's recipients.

Each of the five winning Realtors® will receive a $1,000 grant and a year of one-on-one mentoring from a member of the Good Neighbor Society, which is made up of past recipients of the annual REALTOR® Magazine Good Neighbor Award for volunteer service. This marks the fourth year the Volunteering Works program has recognized five Realtors® for their charitable work.

"The Volunteering Works program honors Realtors® who recognize a need in their communities and are working hard to improve those communities," said National Association of Realtors® President Moe Veissi, broker-owner of Veissi & Associates, Inc. in Miami, Fla. "It is imperative that we give back to communities, as well as support those who dedicate so much of their lives to helping others."

The Volunteering Works recipients were selected based on their dedication to the community through volunteer work and the potential for their charitable work to be expanded or improved with the help of an expert mentor.

2011 Volunteering Works recipient Casey Stallone of Prudential Utah Elite Real Estate, in Orem, Utah, says the program benefited her nonprofit, Our Legacy Vision. "My mentor, 2001 Good Neighbor Craig Conant, of Key Realty in Warrensberg, Mo., was unbelievably proactive, walking me through several fundraising ideas and most importantly, being a source of support and positivity through challenges," said Stallone. "Volunteering Works enabled me to network with incredible individuals with a similar passion for living life in the service of others." Stallone's foundation provided nine single fathers and their children fully decorated Christmas trees last year.

The 2012 recipients of the Volunteering Works grant and mentoring are:

John C. Hallis, Keller Williams Select REALTORS®, Ellicott City, Md.
Hallis coordinates his colleagues who volunteer for Keller Williams RED Day and Open Door Baltimore to help parents secure jobs, stock food banks, and renovate schools that serve 1,200 Baltimore children. His mentor will be 2011 Good Neighbor LeRoy J. Bendickson, Edina Realty, Edina, Minn., who raises money for the National Multiple Sclerosis Society, Minnesota Chapter. Hallis will look for guidance on obtaining 501(c)3 status, gaining access to financial grants, and finding other funding sources. To find out more about Open Door Baltimore visit www.opendoorbaltimore.org.

Rick Jessen, ABR, SFR, Prudential Montana Real Estate, Missoula, Mont.
Jessen started the charity Home Again to provide essentials like furniture, bedding and appliances to people who are moving from a transitional housing situation into permanent housing. His mentor is 2010 Good Neighbor David Philp, Coldwell Banker Burnet, Chaska, Minn., a master fundraiser for Ridgeview Medical Center. Jessen wants to learn to build a stronger network of volunteers and implement an effective fundraising strategy. To find out more about Home Again visit www.homeagainmissoula.com.

Wanda Klor, CIPS, CRS, GRI, SRES, Realty World Wanda Klor & Associates, San Jose, Calif.
Klor founded Portera Celebration, an annual summer event that benefits four local charities—Second Harvest Food Bank, Career Closet, Community Health Partnership and Sacred Heart Community Services. Her mentor, 2010 Good Neighbor James T. Elcock, Elcock Properties, St. Charles, Mo., founded the Kids Against Hunger, Metro St. Charles/St. Louis satellite. Klor is seeking advice on becoming a 501(c)3 nonprofit, recruiting more volunteers, and implementing fundraising strategies. To find out more about Portera Celebration visit www.PorteraCCC.com.

Penny O. Kovakas, GRI, Kovakas Realty, Inc., Westover, Ala.
Kovakas renovated a home to use as a food pantry to serve the hungry in Shelby County, Ala. The Kovakas Food Pantry provides food and household essentials to over 45 families. Kovakas will work with her mentor, 2005 Good Neighbor Carole Sharp, a retired real estate practitioner who runs the Staunton Food Pantry in a small town outside St. Louis. Kovakas will seek advice from her mentor on new ways to reach out to contributors, gain public awareness, and improve fundraising.

Jennifer D. Wiles, SFR, Real Estate Showcase, Wooster, Ohio
Wiles is a founding member of the Golden Bear Brigade, which assists military members and their families through a support group, care packages, and events like homecomings and parades. She will work with her mentor, 2010 Good Neighbor Wendy Rocca, Keller Williams Realty, Newton Highlands, Mass., who co-founded Operation American Soldier, which sends care packages to thousands of soldiers overseas. Wiles will seek guidance on how to expand their organization, retain volunteers, upgrade the organization's web site, and improve fundraising strategies. To find out more about Golden Bear Brigade visit www.goldenbearbrigade.org.

Volunteering Works is funded by The Stuart & Jill Siegel Charitable Foundation. To learn more about Volunteering Works or the Good Neighbor Awards, go to www.REALTOR.org/gna.

The National Association of Realtors®, "The Voice for Real Estate," is America's largest trade association, representing 1 million members involved in all aspects of the residential and commercial real estate industries.

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