Giving back to the community is an important core value of the successful RE/MAX Real Estate (Central) office in Calgary.
And the RE/MAX (Central) Cares group has found various ways to make an impact on the community over the past few years.
“I have been with RE/MAX Real Estate (Central) for six years now. Over my years at the office I have seen the hard work that each of our agents puts into their business, but I have also seen the heart that goes into it as well,” says Jessica Saunders, Conveyancing Supervisor/Administration for the office and chairperson of the RE/MAX (Central) Cares committee.
“Whether it is trying to find the perfect house for their clients or giving back to the community, being number one for 20 consecutive years is more than just the numbers. It’s the heart behind all that hard work and getting behind the clients and community that has supported us in making us number one over the years.
“The RE/MAX (Central) Cares Committee is a committee within our office working together to make a positive impact in the Calgary and surrounding communities through charitable events, volunteering, donations and our time.”
Saunders says RE/MAX (Central) Cares originally started as a group called “Women helping Women” a few years ago which was organized and put together by a few of the agents in the office – Gemma Festa, Sylvia Solis-Marasco and Heather Profeta. During that time, the group organized a few different incentives helping give back to the community.
In 2018, Gemma and Sylvia decided to revive the group. Its first initiative was joining hands with the Making Changes Association, which is an organization dedicated to helping women transition back into the workforce by coaching them through job interviews, providing them with clothing to wear for the interviews and to get them through the first couple of weeks of their new employment. Making Changes also has a program called “My Best Friends’ Closet” geared towards teen girls in need. Through this program they provide teen girls with a year’s supply of outfits, shoes, jackets, backpacks etc.
In the spring of last year, the group organized a clothing drive for Making Changes and My Best Friends’ Closet.
“We were overwhelmed by the amount of support and clothing that was donated from agents within our brokerage and the public. Gemma’s office was full of bags upon bags of clothing for both the women and the teenage girls,” says Saunders.
In the fall of 2019, it was decided to open this group up to all the agents at RE/MAX Real Estate (Central) and the name was changed to RE/MAX (Central) Cares.
“This past Christmas season RE/MAX (Central) Cares adopted the Boys and Girls Club group homes. The Boys and Girls Club currently have four group homes which house three to five youths per home (ages 13-18). These are children who have been removed from their homes for various reasons and would not have the typical Christmas experience that every youth should have. Over the Christmas holidays with the help of our agents and outside support, we were able to raise enough money to ensure that each of those youth weren’t left without,” says Saunders.
“We were able to supply each of the youths a stocking filled with goodies and a gift or two under the tree from each of the kids’ wish list. In addition to that, the RE/MAX (Central) Cares committee also banned together and bought each of the homes brand-new pre-lit Christmas trees and all the decorations to go with it. We wanted them to feel the Christmas spirit leading up to Christmas.”
The RE/MAX (Central) Cares Committee also volunteered at one of the group homes cooking a Christmas dinner for the youths and their guests which was about 30 people.
Over the Christmas holidays, the RE/MAX (Central) Cares Committee also organized a food drive for the Veterans Food Bank. The committee, the agents and the community collected over four boxes of non-perishable food.
The most recent initiative involved Matteo Shafer, who was a young boy diagnosed with a brain tumor at the young age of 16 months. Matteo endured six weeks of radiation and had to do follow up MRI’s yearly for five years which all came back cancer free. At the age of seven the cancer returned, and more treatments took place. On July 17, 2016 Matteo passed away at the tender age of nine years old.
“Matteo and his family were close with Gemma Festa who speaks of Matteo as a young boy filled with life, someone who no matter how bad things were remained positive and had a smile on his face,” says Saunders.
In his honour his family held a Starry Night Whisky & Wine Festival on February 29. There was a silent auction with all proceeds donated to the Rotary Flames House in the name of Matteo Shafer. RE/MAX (Central) Cares donated two large liquor baskets to be donated as a part of that silent auction with the support of the RE/MAX agents. A raffle for two other liquor baskets was held which raised over $3,300 to donate to his cause.
“It is a lot of work organizing large give backs like the ones we have successfully done so far. RE/MAX (Central) Cares is looking forward to doing so much more in the year to come, including cooking a dinner at the Ronald McDonald House in the spring. Our hope is to encourage and inspire others to get involved and show them the heart of RE/MAX Real Estate (Central) and to say thank you to the community who has supported us throughout the years,” says Saunders.