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Thursday, September 20, 2012

Looking Back at the Evolution of Giving Back

In 1984, the REALTOR® Foundation was established as the philanthropic arm of the Metropolitan Indianapolis Board of REALTORS® (MIBOR) to provide real estate professionals in central Indiana opportunities to give back to the community that has continuously supported our industry.

Last week’s REALTOR® Foundation Awareness Week gave us an opportunity to look back at the impact so many dedicated volunteers have made. It’s inspiring to think about the individuals and families who have been helped — and in turn helped themselves — to achieve a better life through assistance from organizations like the REALTOR® Foundation. A culture of giving back defines central Indiana, and the real estate community is honored to be a small part.

The foundation’s early efforts focused on neighborhood revitalization and beautification, including an annual event remembered fondly among area REALTORS® called Brighten Up Indy. We also worked with Indy Parks for several years rebuilding and revitalizing neighborhood parks throughout the city. But it was a conscious choice made a decade ago that has created lasting impact.
By 2001, the foundation had reached a plateau, both in fundraising and member engagement. We knew then we had to find a new mission that would re-energize and engage real estate professionals to make an even greater impact in the community.

A United Way presentation on homelessness came at just the right time. We were all touched after learning about the many different segments of the homeless population, especially children aging out of the foster care system. Around that same time, then-Mayor Bart Peterson released the Coalition for Homelessness Intervention and Prevention’s “Blueprint to End Homelessness,” and a concentrated effort to end homelessness in Marion County solidified.

Our new mission was clear.

A decade ago in the fall of 2002, we dedicated our fundraising efforts solely to the issue of homelessness and began educating ourselves on the complexities of the issue and the needs of the homeless population.

That same year, we gave our first two $25,000 grants to organizations that were — and still are —impacting the homeless population in Marion County, Sheltering Wings and Interfaith Hospitality Network.

Organizations like these have been our greatest resource in learning about homelessness. It’s easy to believe that we see the face of homelessness every day in the men and women on the street. The truth is we don’t see the full picture.

One of the largest segments of the homeless population over the last few years has been families. Just a few months ago, the Foundation celebrated its most successful fundraising effort, one with truly lasting effects. The Building a Living Legacy project, in collaboration with the Super Bowl Host Committee, provided homes in St. Clair Place to 32 homeless families.

While an amazing achievement, it only launches us into the next question: What more can be done to transform neighborhoods and help families on their journey to escape homelessness? As we look to the next decade, we’re excited to continue to be a partner in diminishing homelessness in central Indiana.

Bill Hacker
REALTOR® Foundation Board of Director
Chair, Building a Living Legacy Campaign

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