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NAR Announces Finalists Recognized for Excellence in Community Service

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

WASHINGTON (August 29, 2012) – Realtors® are the backbone of their communities, often supporting local causes large and small, and volunteering their time to help improve the communities in which they live. The National Association of Realtors® recognized 10 such Realtors® today as finalists for REALTOR® Magazine’s 2012 Good Neighbor Awards.

This year marks the 13th year the Good Neighbor Awards program has recognized Realtors® who improve the quality of life in their communities through volunteer work. The Realtors® acknowledged by this program over the years donate their time, money and passion to creating a positive impact and addressing critical needs in their communities.

In October five winners will be selected from among the 10 finalists and will receive travel expenses to the 2012 REALTORS® Conference & Expo in Orlando, Fla., where they will receive their awards. Winners will also receive national media exposure and a $10,000 grant for their community cause. The five honorable mentions will receive a $2,500 grant. The winners will be featured in the November/December issue of REALTOR® Magazine.

“Realtors® are integral to a successful community,” said NAR President Moe Veissi, broker-owner of Veissi & Associates Inc., in Miami. “The Good Neighbor Awards remind us of that and recognize NAR members who spend their time and energy to improve the lives of those in need. I am proud to honor these 10 Realtors® and help them grow their efforts so they can help even more people through their selfless work.”

The 10 Realtor® Magazine Good Neighbor Awards finalists are:

Rocco "Rocky" Balsamo, The Rocky Balsamo Real Estate Group/Long & Foster, Princeton Junction, N.J.
Balsamo is founding board member and volunteer executive director for Center for FaithJustice, a nonprofit that promotes volunteerism among teens and young adults. CFJ runs summer day camps and sleep away camps, as well as other year-round workshops for schools and churches. Last year, more than 900 teens volunteered more than 20,000 hours in local charities and spent a similar number of hours in education classes.

Charlene M. Brennan, Strano & Associates Real Estate, Fairview Heights, Ill.
For 17 years, Brennan has been dedicated to helping serve the Rotary District 6510’s Belizean Children's Program. She travels to Belize once a year with physicians to identify children who will come to the U.S. for orthopedic surgery. She photographs patients, coordinates their travel, and recruits host families to care for them. While they are in the U.S., she coordinates their medical care, testing, and physical therapy until they are ready to return home to their families in Belize.

Georgia L. Butterfield, Legacy Real Estate & Associates, Fremont, Calif.
For 18 years, Butterfield has led the nonprofit Adopt An Angel, providing holiday gifts for more than 8,000 of the country’s most needy children. She helped provide gifts for 800 children in 2011 alone. The children, who are living in group homes, shelters, foster care or low-income homes, make wish lists of three gifts. Butterfield finds people to buy what’s on the list and procures donated warehouse space, and recruits volunteers to shop, wrap, tag and deliver the gifts during the holiday season.

Michael Ray Campbell, Broker Associate, Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage, Tucson, Ariz.
Campbell is president of the nonprofit Hearth Foundation, which provides transitional housing for low-income families, typically women with young children. He is credited for reorganizing and stabilizing the organization, strengthening the board, and creating effective partnerships with other organizations to provide services to the residents. Campbell recently won a $720,000 grant, which will allow the organization to make much-needed renovations to their apartments.

Regina “Ginger” Dowdle, Sunrise Realty & Development, Statesville, N.C.
Dowdle and her husband founded The Shepherd’s Watch Ministries, which offers summer camp to the community, as well as a year-round residential program for at-risk youths ages 13-18 in foster care, on their 60-acre farm. The residential program focuses on teens who will likely age out of foster care without being adopted. The goal is to teach these youths much needed skills to help prepare them for independent living. The Dowdles have foster parented more than 20 youths since 2005, adopting two boys with another adoption in process.

Ortrud “Trudy” Harsh, Associate Broker, Long & Foster, Fairfax, Va.
Harsh founded The Brain Foundation in 2003 to address the growing need for affordable housing for mentally ill adults who might otherwise be homeless. The foundation has since purchased six homes that house 24 adults with brain diseases like schizophrenia, bipolar disorder or chronic depression. She has formed a successful partnership with another nonprofit to provide residents with services that allow them to live independently. Her model has been copied in Florida and she frequently mentors others who are trying to create similar programs.

Geoffrey W. Lavell, Better Homes & Gardens Real Estate-Desert Properties, Henderson, Nev.
Lavell devotes hundreds of volunteer hours to the Nevada Childhood Cancer Foundation. A survivor of childhood cancer himself, Lavell is a 15-year volunteer and co-director of Camp Cartwheel, a summer overnight camp for children with cancer or other catastrophic diseases and their siblings. He also leads a puppet show program that travels to schools to educate children about these illnesses and the importance of welcoming back a child who is re-entering school after a long illness.

Patti M. Miller, Tierra Antigua Realty, Sierra Vista, Ariz.
Miller is founder and president of Real Wishes Foundation. Since 2006, the organization has granted home repair wishes for the elderly and disabled as well as other wishes throughout their community.  Miller sprang into action during recent Arizona wildfires and flooding, collecting $1 million worth of food, clothes, and places to stay for victims who lost everything. The foundation, which is supported by the Southeast Arizona Association of REALTORS®, also distributed $130,000 in donations to victims to help pay for losses.

Kathleen Peck, All in One Realty Group Inc., Naples, Fla.
Peck cofounded Lighthouse of Collier, Inc., in 2009. The organization provides services to help the blind and visually impaired function more independently and improve their quality of life. Legally blind herself, Peck raises funds to provide free summer camp for blind children, counseling and skills training for adults transitioning to blindness, and support for caregivers.

Sally Rudloff, Kane & Associates, Alameda, Calif.
As volunteer president of the Alameda Boys and Girls Club, Rudloff is credited with incredible growth that will allow the club to expand from serving 1,200 children to 3,000. Rudloff led a $10 million capital campaign that built a new 25,000-square-foot youth center. She also launched a dental clinic for uninsured children, recruited math teachers for a new tutoring program, and created partnerships that provide counseling for 50 families.

REALTOR® Magazine’s Good Neighbor Awards is sponsored by Lowe’s and HouseLogic. In addition to the grant awards, each of the Good Neighbor Award winners will receive a $2,000 Lowe’s gift card, and each of the honorable mentions will receive a $1,000 Lowe’s gift card.

Nominees were judged on their personal contribution of time, as well as financial and material contributions, to benefit their cause. To be eligible, nominees must be NAR members in good standing.

More information about the Good Neighbor Awards finalists is available at www.REALTOR.org/gna.

Lowe’s (www.lowes.com) has worked with customers to maintain and improve their homes since 1946. Lowe’s is proud to support the Good Neighbor Awards.  Lowe’s is a proud supporter of Habitat for Humanity International, American Red Cross, SkillsUSA/SkillsCanada, and The Nature Conservancy, in addition to numerous nonprofit organizations and programs that help communities in North America. In 2011, Lowe’s and the Lowe’s Charitable and Educational Foundation together contributed more than $30 million to support community and education projects in North America. Lowe’s also encourages volunteerism through the Lowe’s Heroes program, a company-wide employee volunteer initiative. Lowe’s, a proud partner in NAR’s REALTOR Benefits® Program, brings Realtors® exclusive benefits to help build relationships with their customers, generate referrals and expand their client base.  The benefits program is featured on www.LowesRealtorBenefits.com.

HouseLogic, www.houselogic.com, is a free source of information and tools from the National Association of Realtors® that can help homeowners make smart and timely decisions about their home. With content covering home improvement, maintenance, taxes, finance, insurance, and even ways to get involved in and enrich their community, HouseLogic can help homeowners increase and protect the value of their home by helping them make confident decisions.

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.