Real estate agents are plugged into their surroundings, aware of who’s selling what, how much they’re asking for it, and what they’re likely to get. Being in the know also heightens their awareness of community needs—and local agents have a good track record when it comes to giving back.

St. Louis Men’s Group Against Cancer (SLMGAC)

“The St. Louis Men’s Group Against Cancer has been the best-kept secret in town for many years, but that’s starting to change,” says Larry Levy of Janet McAfee Real Estate. Levy, vice president of SLMGAC’s board of directors, has been a volunteer with the organization for 25 years. “My father, Harold Levy, was a founding member,” he explains. “He did everything he could to fight this horrible disease. It was his passion; now it’s mine.”

SLMGAC, founded 38 years ago, raises money for research, prevention and care for cancer patients and their families. Fundraising efforts include golf and poker tournaments, and the 70-member group will sponsor its first triathlon later this spring. “We distribute proceeds to cancer-related organizations both large and small—everything from the Alvin J. Siteman Cancer Center to Friends of Kids with Cancer and Gateway to Hope, which cares for uninsured and underinsured women with breast cancer,” Levy says. “We try to act as an extension cord linking all the cancer research and service resources in town.”

At its recent annual luncheon, SLMGAC presented local charities with donations totaling more than $200,000. “Our members are from all walks of life, and we’re united to combat a disease that touches everyone,” says Levy, whose father died of cancer five years ago. Realtors, he adds, are in a unique position to spread the word about the many resources available to cancer patients. “Selling someone a home is a deeply personal transaction, and clients often take us into their confidence when a family member or friend is ill,” he says. “We let them know there is hope—and plenty of help, thanks to groups like SLMGAC.”

Realtor Housing Assistance Fund (RHAF)

Since RHAF was created in 1989 by the St. Louis Association of Realtors, the not-for-profit has donated nearly $700,000 in grants to agencies that address the needs of the homeless and those at risk of being homeless. “RHAF-supported agencies provide rental and mortgage subsidies for families in jeopardy of losing their homes, as well as transitional housing, rehabilitation of buildings into safe units for the homeless, and many other services,” explains Nicki Herrington, an agent at Dielmann Sotheby’s International Realty. “It’s a great cause, and Dielmann Sotheby’s first got involved as a team three years ago during RHAF’s annual giving fund contest, which takes place during June and July.”

That first year, Dielmann Sotheby’s raised over $6,000 through donations and auctions, more than any other real estate office in St. Louis. “We won again last year, raising over $9,000,” Herrington says. This year, the heat is on. “We want to hang on to first place and raise at least $10,000.”

So, to supplement the usual auctions, Dielmann Sotheby agents and office manager Charlotte Brassel have opened a thrift store in a vacant office. “Employees bring what they want, take what they want and pay what they want,” Herrington says. “We’ve got clothes, books, jewelry and more—and the inventory changes constantly. The response has been amazing—in the past few months, we’ve raised $700. Our president, Andy Dielmann, is completely supportive and pitches in with everyone else. It’s a fun way to recycle, and the frosting on the cake is that we get to help the homeless.”

The Sunshine Kids (SSK)

Prudential Real Estate Affiliates ‘adopted’ SSK as its charity of choice nearly 20 years ago. Prudential’s nationwide network raises more than $1 million a year for the nonprofit, which is dedicated to providing group activities and support for young cancer patients. “Our Town & Country location, one of nine Prudential Select Properties offices in the area, just opened in February, but we’ve already jumped feet first into fundraising activities,” says agent Cecily Affleck. Activities include companywide events, such as golf tournaments and trivia nights, and individual office events, including raffles and barbecues.

“Prudential Select Properties also has a listings program, where agents make a donation of $10 or more in participating sellers’ names,” Affleck explains. “Some clients even contribute matching funds. People are glad to help—cancer has touched so many lives.” The Town & Country office recently participated in a trivia night with other Prudential Select offices. “We sold out every table and raised just over $10,000 for SSK,” she says.

Everyone benefits when businesses give back to the community, Affleck points out. “It generates so much good will, and it’s a great way to meet people and get your name out there,” she says. But the benefits extend far beyond making new contacts. “Lending a helping hand gives you the best feeling ever—‘warm and fuzzy’ doesn’t even begin to describe it!”

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