Associates take the lead in Coldwell Banker's community outreach
Companies have long held contests to help boost sales, with incentives and prizes going to top-producing employees. But Coldwell Banker Residential Real Estate is hosting a competition that has the cash prize going to charity, a twist you'd think might lessen the interest but, in fact, has Coldwell Banker selling agents signing up in droves to participate. The effort is just one example of how Coldwell Banker finds creative ways to give back to the community and how its sales associates enthusiastically offer their own time, talent and muscle to help others in need. Front and center in its charitable reach is the Coldwell Banker Residential Real Estate CARES Foundation, an initiative that raises funds through donations from sales commissions, employee payroll deductions, golf tournaments, auctions, bowl-a-thons and other events. Coldwell Banker associates and staff also support local charities by volunteering their own time, from cooking meals and working on renovation projects to building homes. Since forming in 2003, CARES has raised more than $3.5 million for local nonprofit educational, health, welfare, environmental and cultural arts organizations statewide. "Supporting the community in which we live is a top priority for our sales associates," said Charles Richardson, West Central Florida regional senior vice president of Coldwell Banker Residential Real Estate. "All across the region, our associates and employees are very involved in their communities and raising much-needed funds for charities and nonprofits. It's a major part of the Coldwell Banker culture."For the most part, the fundraising events and projects are team efforts, with Coldwell Banker staff coming together to compete, organize, host and/or work in order to meet the designated goals. And that's what makes Coldwell Banker's community outreach efforts so unique; they are employee-driven, providing what might be called the ultimate team-building exercise. "At Coldwell Banker, it's not the company deciding where charitable contributions should go, it's the employees and sales associates who decide," said Judy Clark, branch manager of the Coldwell Banker Tampa Southwest office. Sales agents and employees make up the board for the CARES Foundation. This group decides what events and projects will be done to raise the money, and which charities will receive the money that is raised. "Each of us has a vote, so we all have a say in it," Clark said. In all of Coldwell Banker's charitable efforts, participation is voluntary. But for many sales associates, like Christina Griffin, volunteering is second-nature and having the opportunity to participate in projects that benefit community as part of a job is more like a perk. A Realtor in Coldwell Banker's South Tampa office, Griffin rarely misses the chance to help others. That altruistic drive earned her Coldwell Banker's inaugural Hero of the Year Award, a national recognition presented last year for her work on the Tampa Bay CARES Walk that raised more than $30,000 for local Tampa Bay organizations that help the homeless, including Metropolitan Ministries, Safe Harbor, Clothes 2 Kids, Pinellas Hope, Homeless Coalition and Trinity Cafť. With the help of fellow employees, Griffin organized the first 5K walk to help families who have lost their homes due to foreclosure. In addition to raising funds, she also helped increase community awareness of the many options available for displaced homeowners and tenants. "I have a passion for the homeless and efforts like this really help me give back to the community," Griffin said. This year's event, set for Nov. 2 at Fort DeSoto, will benefit children with funds going to both Shriner's and All Children's Hospital. The event is open to the public; more information can be found at tampabayCARESwalk.com. Community outreach is a goal for many businesses, but the associate-lead efforts at Coldwell Banker Residential Real Estate help illustrate the greater good that is accomplished when a team of people are doing the giving. "Coldwell Banking is so amazingly supportive of our community outreach," Griffin said. "And they are open to ideas from agents and other staff about projects we should do and causes we should take on to help those in need." Coldwell Banker Residential Real Estate has 18 offices in Hillsborough and Pinellas counties. There are more than 80 offices and more than 4,900 sales associates throughout Florida. Worldwide, there are more than 82,000 Coldwell Banker sales associates. For more information about Coldwell Banker Residential Real Estate, and any of its many charitable efforts, visit FloridaMoves.com or call 1-800-624-5292.