CRSs share inspiring stories of going beyond their traditional roles as REALTORS® to improve the quality of life in their communities
Every year we ask our members to share stories of how they help their clients, communities or the real estate industry so we can honor the real impact our members make every day.
This year’s winner, Wende Schoof, CRS, is president of the Nancy Painter Foundation, which helps struggling single mothers stay in their homes. It’s an extension of what our members do every day—give people the joy, support and stability of home.
Our runners-up similarly shared how they used the skills honed in their everyday real estate work to make major impacts on those around them. Bill Black, CRS, fought for his community by joining local government, Troy Wilson, CRS, uses his real estate practice to help unsung heroes, and Rita Tayenaka, CRS, is training new real estate leaders. Thank you to everyone who shared their stories. There were so many more than we could feature, but they are testaments to the true character of a CRS.
Wende helps secure homes for single moms
After 24 years of helping clients buy and sell their homes, I’ve witnessed firsthand how much a home impacts people’s lives. Having a place to call home means stability and security for the people living in it, whether that home is rented or owned.
There are mothers out there who are at risk of losing their homes, and I felt with my background and experience I could do something about it. That is what drew me to the Nancy Painter Foundation, where I gratefully serve as president. Our mission is simple: We want to keep families from becoming homeless, and we do this by supporting mothers who need financial assistance. In our hearts, though, the mission goes deeper. We see the hope in a mother’s eyes and then we do what we can to turn hope into reality. Our motto says it best: Sometimes hope needs help.
Making a Difference
Luisa is just one of the many single mothers who have received support from the Foundation. Here’s how she describes her situation:
“Having stable housing is very important for my son and me. Security in maintaining housing allows me to focus on my education, which will prepare me for the future. Without the financial assistance, I would risk not only losing my housing, but also the community I am part of.”
One case that touched me deeply was a mom who suffered serious injuries in a car accident and temporarily lost her job as a dance instructor. Without her job, she didn’t have the means to even keep the lights and heat on—so she and her daughters could stay in their home. We helped her keep these basic needs, which allowed her to stay home and give hope to her family.
We also help moms who are working hard to improve the quality of life of her families. Recently we worked with Luisa, who was trying to complete her education but had no financial means to pay her rent. The Nancy Painter Foundation provided funding to keep up with rent—so she could concentrate on completing her education. But the story goes deeper than money. Now she’s able to stay in the neighborhood where she feels at home, her son is at the same school with his friends, and they’re both surrounded by a supportive community network.
Our little nonprofit has gone from originally supporting five moms at the Nancy Painter Home to developing our flagship Urgent Grant Program, which supports single mothers experiencing financial hardship. Our next program will be affordable child care for working single moms on days and at times that aren’t usually covered by most care providers. Being able to work is crucial for every mother who wants to give her family a permanent, safe, and secure home.
It’s always been important that my clients are happy when their purchase or sale closes. Their real estate success is my own success. But through my work with the Nancy Painter Foundation, I now see things a little differently. At the end of the day, besides envisioning my clients happily living in their new homes, I think of the moms I’m helping living in their homes, too. This is a higher level of personal satisfaction.
Wende Schoof, CRS
Rodeo Realty, Los Angeles, California
Bill negotiated better fire protection for his small community
I serve on our local fire district board in one of the most popular and fastest growing areas of Omaha called Elkhorn. We are responsible for fire, rescue and first responder services to the community. Years prior to me joining the board, a vast majority of the Elkhorn area was annexed into the city of Omaha, which left the community of Elkhorn stunned and confused, surfacing questions about police and fire protection. Omaha quickly provided a contract for services to the area and the powers to be at that time signed a 10-year agreement.
A couple of years ago, a new board was being voted on. Since I had previous firefighting experience and served on other boards, I felt I had much to offer and was elected with a few other new board members. We quickly realized the service contract was heavily favored toward Omaha.
It was evident that we needed to renegotiate the contract for fire and rescue coverage. So we gave the proper notice and went into negotiations—a lot like what we do in real estate every day. A new contract was agreed upon, and we ended up saving the taxpayers of rural Elkhorn 40% on the mill levy.
Bill Black, CRS
NP Dodge, Elkhorn, Nebraska coverage for his community.
Troy runs a program to help first responders and other unsung heroes buy homes
My wife and I have five children. In 2011, our lives changed when my wife became disabled and had to shut down her business. I was a police officer of 17 years at the time and had to find a way to make up my wife’s lost income. I got my real estate license and joined Keller Williams. My first year in real estate I was KW Rookie of the Year in my market after selling over $2 million in volume—while still holding down a full-time job as a police officer.
In my real estate practice, I wanted to focus on my community and give back to other first responders to help them become homeowners. I recruited several local service providers and launched a hero home rewards program to give back to local first responders in the community (southfloridaheroes.com). Firefighters, law enforcement, military (active, reserve and veterans), healthcare professionals, EMS and teachers can all enjoy savings on legal representation, appraisals, closing costs, home inspections and moving costs. I choose to focus my business now on first responders and military personnel and look forward to what the future holds for me and this amazing career!
Troy Wilson, CRS
Exp Realty, LLC, Sunny Isles, Florida
Rita established a leadership academy to bring new blood to local board
I was president of the Orange County REALTORS® in 2015 and saw that the association had the same leaders year in and year out. The general feeling was that you could not become part of the board because it was always the same people. The year after being the president, I was accepted into NAR’s Leadership Academy and that gave me the idea of starting a leadership academy at our local association to bring in new leaders.
I reached out to different states’ and associations’ leadership academies and came up with a game plan for our association. I presented to our education department and received approval to run the academy, accepting 20 people per year. The first year, we had 25 applications. We are now going into year four and have graduated 60 future leaders. The alumni are now committee chairs, on the local board, on the state board, chairs/vice chairs at the state level, chamber of commerce leaders, liaisons to government officials and more.
Rita Tayenaka, CRS
Coast to Canyon Real Estate, Mission Viejo, California