She was barely holding back her tears on the phone.
Who could blame her? She had impeccable credit, a six-figure salary in tech, and all she wanted was an apartment in Manhattan for herself and two lovable dogs. How could it be this hard?
As a brand-new agent, I nearly wore out my phone trying to find her the perfect apartment, and when we finally signed a lease, she was ecstatic.
Every good agent I know has dozens of stories like this. They also raise money for charity, host events for schools, soccer teams, and theaters, and promote local small businesses. While you might not always receive credit for it, being a good real estate agent means helping your local community, and your help is needed today more than ever.
That’s why we decided to highlight some of the ways real estate agents are giving back to their own local communities in this time of unprecedented need.
Marco Meza, Broker, Coconut Grove, Florida
A full-time Miami-Dade paramedic and a full-time real estate agent with Douglas Elliman in Miami, Marco is at the front lines of the pandemic, helping to save lives and keeping our community safe. He has been working 24-hour shifts since the pandemic started.
“My day as a firefighter is never the same. Each day has challenging emergencies, whether minor or major. My shift starts at 7:00 a.m., and with this pandemic, my routine has changed a lot. First thing before starting my 24-hour shift, we must check each other’s temperature and evaluate each firefighter who is reporting to run 911 emergencies in order to prevent the spread of COVID-19 among first responders.
“My first day back from being off for two weeks, my crew and I ran several 911 calls, two of which were cardiac arrest cases where we suspected COVID-19 being present. We brought both patients back to life, and we hope they make it out of the hospital. Later in the day, we ran into a patient who felt bad with no obvious signs but had COVID-19—you never know what you’re going to get. It’s been long and busy work weeks as a firefighter.”
Rick Rosa, Agent, Long Island City, New York
“I created a newsletter that was sent out to our local Long Island City (LIC) database (a little over 1,000 people), promoting the strength of the neighborhood through community support. I highlighted the importance of supporting local businesses and included all of the businesses that remained open with hyperlinks to their sites, as well as local LIC charities.
“I’m finishing up the next one, which is scheduled to go out on Friday. Supporting the community has played a major role in my success in LIC, and the community has supported me as a broker and as a local resident.”
Tim Malone, Agent, Manhattan
Manhattan agent Tim Malone started a fundraising campaign in association with Heart of the Hamptons to help stock up local food pantries. So far, he’s raised $36,790 for local food pantries.
“For the past couple of weeks, we’ve launched a whole social media campaign in an effort to help raise money consisting of videos calling people to action, Instagram (IG) shoutouts for the donors, updates from heart of the Hamptons, live sessions, and so on.”
Tim also works with Southampton Animal Rescue:
“We’ve pushed fostering over buying and highlighted the importance of helping to empty shelters at this time.”
Jennifer Ho, Agent, Greenwich, Connecticut
“When Douglas Elliman Connecticut closed because of the COVID-19 and Greenwich went on lockdown, I started thinking of ways to give back to the town and help the community.
1. I have initiated a food drive with Neighbor to Neighbor—a local food bank.
2. I’ve supported some local restaurants, like La Taqueria, by doing a video and posting on social media to help their sales. It did, it still does!
3. I help people (not just my town) by doing live interviews with a nutritionist and a local pediatrician, who is also the head of the pediatric department at Greenwich Hospital. They were able to provide viewers with tips on how to stay healthy and what food to eat to boost their immune system. The doctor was able to answer some questions about our audience’s kids’ health and concerns about COVID-19.
4. I do Zoom meetings and interviews of mortgage brokers, building inspectors, architects, and many more to come. This helps promote their business while also providing viewers with useful information.
“Giving people information that they may use at home is important. It keeps their minds busy and may give them something to look or hope for.”
Miltiadis Kastanis, Director of Luxury Sales, Miami Beach
“There are so many charities right now, and I think it is important to stick with one or a few with causes that speak to you and you believe in, and continue to push those. I have incorporated two of them through my social media and email outreach and I talk about them often.
“I am collaborating on ‘kids helping kids succeed’ with my friend, Adriana Lima, because we both love kids, and when we heard that kids in our community are getting fewer meals with schools closed, it hit us hard. I have been consistent with my dedication to that charity and I think that is important. I noticed a lot of my clients—without me asking them to—have donated. I think the authentic and passionate way I share it means that I am not asking for people to donate—they are choosing to on their own. I have not had to ask for a single individual to donate directly.”
Peter Humphrey, Agent, Shelter Island, New York
“On Shelter Island, I volunteer to shop for groceries and deliver packages from the post office to the elderly and those in quarantine. I also am a volunteer ambulance driver, which I’ve been doing for three years now.”
Michael Daly, Broker & Team Leader, Sag Harbor, New York
Michael Daly is helping to raise money for All for the East End, in addition to MANY other local charities, from rescuing dogs in Puerto Rico to funding local arts, and so forth. Here’s a few of the organizations that he’s very involved with: Peconic Land Trust Public Policy Committee, North Haven Village, the Southampton Zoning Board of Appeals, Southampton Town Anti-Bias Task Force, Sag Harbor American Music Festival, and Unitarian Universalist Congregation of the South Fork.
Bridget Harvey, Broker & Team Leader, Manhattan
“Since I joined Douglas Elliman in 2015, I have volunteered and fundraised for a New York City food organization called God’s Love We Deliver. We all have two basic necessities: food and shelter. Every time The Harvey Team sells you the latter, we donate the first. We fund a week of medically tailored meals to a family of four at every one of our closings. In addition, I organize the Ride for Love. Hundreds of Douglas Elliman agents have collectively cycled tens of thousands of miles and raised more than $1,000,000 for our neighbors who are too sick to cook for themselves.
“Since COVID-19 hit New York City, God’s Love We Deliver has seen an unprecedented increase in new clients. As senior centers across the city have closed, family members are unable to bring food to loved ones, and neighbors are less able to help out, God’s Love has seen an influx of more than 1,000 clients in the past month. At the same time, they have 70% fewer volunteers. So I have walked from my Upper West Side home to God’s Love facility in SoHo, chopped vegetables, prepared meals, bagged groceries, and safely delivered them to New Yorkers who are too sick to grocery shop or cook for themselves.
“Starting this week, I am also hosting #StayHomeBingo games benefiting God’s Love We Deliver. Donate here and I’ll send you five Bingo cards and a Zoom link to call your own!”
Laura Copersino, Broker & Team Leader, Queens, New York
“I am currently raising funds and feeding front line hospital workers, as well as collaborating with local supermarkets that donate care packages of food and household supplies and deliver the packages to families and the elderly in need in my neighborhood. We also have on order 700 N95 masks that will be distributed to local hospitals.
“With the funds collected from GoFundMe, we purchase individually prepared and packaged meals (thereby also helping the local restaurants) and then deliver them to a hospital or police precinct. I am doing this in the name of my foundation, The Daniel Copersino Foundation, and we have joined forces with We Love Whitestone Civic Association. It is amazing how people come together to help those in need. This is a wonderful experience, and what is wonderful about it is that there are so many who are having needs met by this joint effort.”
The Stanton Hoch Team, Manhattan
The Stanton Hoch Team has been sending out a newsletter to its network called “Good Vibes Daily,” with uplifting stories and a long list of resources for how to manage stress, food, kids, and so on during this time. All of the stories and resources are then added to a website that acts as a permanent hub for people to reference. People have been really grateful for the support, good vibes, and for the tips on Activities & Resources!
Liana Silverstein Backal, Agent, Manhattan
“On March 19th, the restaurant and hospitality industry basically shut down. It was very personal to me and my family. I wanted to somehow help restaurants in my neighborhood retain some employees and stay in business during the pandemic. Never did I think it would get this grave and last this long. The Town School, where my daughter attends, gave a sizable donation to get my ‘Feed the Frontline at Lenox Hill ER’ project started. The initial outreach to friends and clients was overwhelming. I didn’t realize how many people I was able to connect with and how happy everyone felt by providing something as simple as a sandwich to a healthcare worker. It made sense to partner with Butterfield Market as they, the Town School, Lenox Hill Hospital, and our home are within blocks of each other on the Upper East Side. This mission is ongoing and now includes other eateries.”
How You Can Help Give Back to Your Local Community
Don’t worry, you don’t need to have millionaire friends or 100,000 Instagram followers to make a difference in your community. In fact, sometimes small acts of kindness or help can be the most impactful and rewarding. Here are a few ideas that you can use to get started today.
- Volunteer at a local animal shelter
- Organize a GoFundMe for front line workers
- Volunteer to deliver food to the elderly
- Sew masks for front line workers
- Raise money for a local charity
- Donate to a local food bank
- Organize fun Zoom events for local kids
- Keep your community informed about the market
- Start a GoFundMe for a local small business
- Give a local restaurant a shoutout on your social media accounts
- Volunteer at a faith-based nonprofit
- Help raise money for local schools
- Post uplifting content on social media
Over to You
How are you supporting your local community? Let us know in the comments.