A Message from President Mike Theo: Wisconsin REALTORS® Foundation


 Mike Theo  |    August 06, 2015
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In any given community, on any given day, it’s easy to find REALTORS® helping families and businesses find a home to call their own. It’s also very easy to find REALTORS® intensely involved in making their communities better places for those families and businesses to prosper and enjoy life in Wisconsin. 

But in each of those communities, there are children who are suffering and children in need. There are children suffering from inadequate housing or alternating between homeless shelters and doorways on the streets. There are children who are feeling the pains of hunger throughout the day and when they lay down to sleep at night. There are children in dysfunctional schools, homes or families who are not receiving the education they need to succeed in academics or in life. There are children who are trapped in abusive situations, exposed to potential physical and mental scars that could last a lifetime. And there are children who, by the unlucky draw of fate, must battle serious adult-sized illnesses attacking their child-sized bodies.

The 2015 Wisconsin REALTOR® Foundation (WRF) has a simple goal: to make it better for these children. And we need your help.

The WRF has spent the past year restructuring itself into a new statewide organization dedicated to unifying REALTORS® behind worthy charitable causes that will make Wisconsin a better place to live, work and play. After extensive research by a newly minted board of directors chaired by former WRA chairman Mike Spranger of Wisconsin Rapids, the WRF has determined to focus its first major effort on helping Wisconsin children in need. This important initiative will be branded as “Make It Better — Helping Wisconsin Children in Need,” and will strive to provide help in four areas: education, hunger, homelessness/abuse, and serious illness.

The WRF research earlier this year indicated that 23 percent of REALTORS® in Wisconsin are involved in local groups that were helping children in need of shelter, health care or personal safety. Thirty-four percent said they volunteered for school-related activities, and another 28 percent said they participated in local housing-related activities and organizations like Habitat for Humanity or homeless shelters. All of these activities demonstrate a deep commitment by REALTORS® regarding these issues, all of which are consistent with the goals of the Make It Better campaign.

But for this effort to succeed, WE NEED YOUR HELP. The unique process developed by the WRF board for selecting the exact charitable organizations to support requires members to do several things, starting right now. The process includes:

  • Recommendations: We’re asking every WRA member to send us the name of one or more organizations in your area that you feel is/are helping make children’s lives better in any of the four categories — education, hunger, homelessness/abuse and serious illness. 
  • Selection: The WRA staff will conduct due diligence research on REALTOR®-nominated organizations and present the findings to the WRF board. The board will then decide which organizations will receive WRF grants.
  • Matching funds: The WRF will then work with local REALTORS® to raise local funds for the selected organizations. These funds will then be matched dollar-for-dollar by the WRF up to a predetermined amount for each of the charities selected. 
  • Presentation: The combined local and WRF funds will be presented to the chosen organizations with ample notice to local members, media and dignitaries. 

As you can see, this collaborative effort is intended to combine the human and financial resources of REALTORS® and REALTOR® organizations to do one thing: make it better for needy children in Wisconsin. To succeed, we need local REALTORS®, local association executives and staff, and WRA leaders and staff working together. 

So the request is simple yet profound: when you receive a solicitation to nominate a charitable organization, please do so. And when you receive a request for a personal and/or corporate financial contribution, please give and give generously. 

I know each and every REALTOR® has a cause, a charity or an organization that they already support because that’s just who REALTORS® are. But remember, the children we hope to help are facing adversity through no fault of their own and who, without our help, will continue to suffer. I invite you to join in this effort, for these children, at this time, so we can collectively help Make It Better.

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