Stafford Manion (left) and his brother, kidney transplant recipient Lang Manion, are joined by Todd Baur (center) during the 2006 National Kidney Foundation’s Golf Classic.

In many ways, real estate agents count on the personal relationships they foster from neighborhood to neighborhood. That’s why it’s no surprise that realtors, as a group, are among the most philanthropic in town. They understand how giving back to the community they serve makes for good business, and keeps those communities wonderful places to live.

Edward L. Bakewell president Sarah Bakewell says philanthropy is very much a part of her company’s culture. “We have always been big believers in giving back,” she says. “We realize that we’re part of the fabric of St. Louis. Our business gets so much from the community, we don’t even think twice about reciprocating.” As realtors, Bakewell says it’s important to contribute to strengthening the community. For example, the company has been involved with the United Way over the years and many of its agents are members of historical societies throughout town. Bakewell herself has supported the rebuilding of Forest Park through Forest Park Forever and as a founding member of the women’s committee. “From a residential real estate standpoint, without that park, we won’t have those wonderful houses surrounding it,” she says.

At Janet McAfee Real Estate, giving is year-round, according to VP Janet Horlacher. “We try to have company-wide charitable periods, participating in the United Way campaign in the fall and giving to Arts & Education in the spring,” she says. Last year, McAfee agents were recognized for contributing the most to the Realtor Housing Assistance Fund to help combat homelessness. “We recognize every day that a healthy and vibrant community rich with cultural institutions supports our property values, making it good for business,” she notes. “We count on the community for our livelihood, so we consider it our own personal responsibility to make it a wonderful place.”

While Gladys Manion doesn’t have a company-wide directive on philanthropy, president Stafford Manion says he encourages charitable giving by example. “It’s up to the agents to take it on individually,” he says. “They give to whatever cause is closest to their heart.” For Manion, that means the National Kidney Foundation. “My brother had a transplant 10 years ago, it saved his life,” he says. Since then, his involvement with the foundation has included more than writing checks. He served nationally on its finance committee, and he also regularly participates in annual events. “I’m walking in this week’s Kidney Walk with a group of people,” he says, adding that sponsor pledges from Gladys Manion agents helped make his team the leader in donations. “Walking is one thing, but for organizations like these, it’s the money that makes the world go ‘round.”

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