Imagine a charity where 100 per cent of every dollar raised goes directly to the identified cause.
It’s an idea that captured the imagination of realtors Tara Hearn and Jane Johnston when they attended the inaugural meeting of 100 Women Who Care Victoria in 2014.
The concept was easy enough. A small group of “founders” gathered family, friends and associates who in turn reached out to their friends and family to assemble a group of 100 women, all willing to meet quarterly to write a $100 cheque to a specific charity focusing on the needs of women and children. With no administration costs and no infrastructure to support, the $10,000 raised would go to the chosen charity.
The elegance of the approach was an instant success for Victoria 100 Women who Care group and by the time Hearn and Johnston attended that first meeting, the group had surpassed its 100 women goal with an attendance of more than 200. Today they number over 300.
But Hearn and Johnston wanted to do more. They saw the concept as an opportunity to reach out to the real estate industry with a goal of providing shelter to marginalized members of society.
“We work with people who can afford a home and we love that work, but too many people haven’t got a place to go to at the end of the day,” Johnston said. “Those are the people we really wanted to help. It was a chance to give them hope and allow them the self-respect that goes along with having a place of your own.”
While still part of the 100 Women Who Care group, Hearn and Johnston launched another chapter, 100+ Real Estate Agents Who Care. They recruited fellow realtors Joanne Broderson and Neil Bosdet.
Hearn had joined the ranks of an ever-increasing number of women in the real estate business six years earlier, coming to the job with a graduate degree in educational leadership and an established work history as an educational consultant.
“I wanted to try something where I could make a difference while at the same time applying my love of interior design and architecture. Real estate let me do that while putting me in a position where I could help people fulfill their dreams,” she said.
Johnston had similarly come to real estate with a post-graduate degree in education and 15 years as an educator. Real estate was a place for excellence in service and personal relationships and where she could help clients reach their personal goals.
“It’s always been about helping people for realtors, so this charity concept was really just an extension of those beliefs,” she said.
A variety of sponsors have stepped up to help develop the group’s logo and web site and spread the word about the new charity. Max Furniture and Ruffell and Brown Window Coverings offered a regular meeting place while others provide refreshments and help cover the cost of incidentals to run the group.
Still, they haven’t yet met all their goals.
The extremely busy real estate market makes it difficult to arrange a time when 100 agents can attend a meeting for the charity.
“Realtors are working non-stop with barely any possibility to take a day off, so getting them to commit to a charitable meeting was tough,” Hearn said.
By the fourth meeting, membership reached 60 realtors. While still shy of the 100 realtors they hope to assemble, they managed to deliver about $30,000 to charities in the past year and Hearn is confident the 100 realtor goal can be reached.
“After all, our business is all about making certain that people have a place to live, a place where they can live a happy and productive life,” Hearn said. “Our charity is about making that possible for people wo hadn’t thought it possible. Everyone needs a place to live.”
100+ Real Estate Agents Who Care next meets Monday, June 6. Learn more at 100realestateagents.com.