Monday, February 8, 2021

Lend a hand: How 7 agents keep giving back to their communities

The past several months have felt like a long haul between dealing with a deadly pandemic, a polarizing presidential race and a roaring housing market. But despite everything going on in the world, real estate agents have reaffirmed their commitments to their communities in a number of ways.

Amid everything else they do for their own businesses and families, here are some of the ways in which agents Inman recently touched base with are working to support their communities.

Alexander Monticello, Principal Broker at Monticello Real Estate

Albany, New York

Alexander Monticello

“Since 2018, Monticello Real Estate has partnered with local business owners and non-profit organizations for our #SmallBiz518 video series,” Monticello said. “The goal of this series is to illustrate what makes our local 518 community so great by showcasing the hardworking small businesses and organizations that keep us thriving on different social media platforms.

“As a real estate company, we’re looking to highlight the small business impact on the Capital Region and what makes our community such a great place to live, work, and play!”

Jenelle Isaacson, Owner at Living Room Realty

Portland, Oregon

Jenelle Isaacson

“We have allowed our agents to use our outdoor covered parking garage to host events and bring in the community,” Isaacson said. “Because of Oregon’s COVID restrictions, people can only gather outdoors. Our headquarters has a huge covered carport and agents have been able to utilize this for events.

Negar Souza and April Howell Young, Realtors at Red Oak Realty

Berkley, California

Negar Souza

“Our team came together during the pandemic to help the local public schools [get] hot spots once we learned kids would be going to school online and so many districts were lacking the funding needed to supply the kids properly,” said Souza.

“This incredible group of women hit the ground running contacting each of the local districts and together through Red Oak’s Roof fund, we were able to donate an immediate $30,000 ($10,000 each) to the Oakland, Berkeley and West Contra Costa Districts.

“Beyond that, we opened the donations up to the community and were able to gain another $18,000 offering a total of $48,000 to the schools directly towards hot spots.”


April Howell Young

“Serving the community is the backbone of our purpose as real estate agents,” Howell Young said. “As parents, we saw how hard swiveling to online education was on our children. Even [for] kids with technological support, internet and computers at home, it was difficult to make this change.

“So many families in our surrounding districts (and nationwide) do not own a home computer, have internet or a support network to navigate the technology. That left it up to the districts to try to fill the gap and get more kids online, a monumental task with limited funding. With this in mind, we knew we needed to step up and find a way to help.”

Deborah Phantana, Realtor at Group One Sotheby’s International Realty

Boise, Idaho

Deborah Phantana

“I personally volunteer and serve on the board of directors for a foster-based cat rescue called ‘Happy Jack Cats,’” Phantana said. “We are often in the Treasure Valley community offering low-cost microchipping and vaccinations for all species of animals.

“However, our newest program called ‘Spay It Forward’ is directed solely towards feline friendlies. Our mission is to offer spays and neuters of friendly pet cats belonging to families who have fallen on hard times and can’t afford the cost of the surgeries right now.

“As an added bonus, there will be fewer kittens that have no hope of homes being born. This is an especially important cause at the moment due to the pandemic and the economic hardship many families have faced.”

Tanya Curry, Realtor at Lyon Real Estate

Sacramento, California

Tanya Curry

“I am a board member for our local nonprofit ‘Fairytale Town’ that is located across from the zoo,” Curry said. “As the chair for the fund development committee, I was able to be creative as to how the park could continue to raise funds so that [the park] was able to remain open under COVID guidelines and to help minimize staff layoffs.”

“While everyone experienced this pandemic differently, in an effort to continue to support local businesses, I created a weekly contest called ‘Curry Cares Contest.’ Each week there was an opportunity to win a gift card of which I donated, from a local business/restaurant, or to the ability for the winner to donate to a charity of their choice.

“As humans, we are designed to be social. This is extremely hard with COVID-19 among us. I [also] created a neighborhood group text roster for my neighbors so that we all could be connected, look out for each other, add cheer to each other’s days and so that we could all keep in touch in a safe matter.”

Julie Busby, Founder of the Busby Group at Compass

Chicago, Illinois

Julie Busby

“With the curve balls that 2020 threw at us, we transformed and enhanced our charitable efforts to reach those who need it most,” Busby said. “We partnered with the Greater Chicago Food Depository, a network of more than 700 food pantries, soup kitchens, shelters and other programs, in our most ambitious philanthropic effort yet.

“One of the most crucial aspects of the Depository’s work is that they address the root causes of hunger in our community, and we want to help our neighbors for the long haul. Starting in November 2020, a portion of the proceeds from every Busby Group deal in perpetuity goes directly to the Food Depository, and we host an ongoing food drive with our clients and friends.

“Plus, for anyone moving or just cleaning out your pantry, we are happy to pick up non-perishable pantry items to drop off. We love this aspect of our partnership because so many times food ends up in the garbage during a big move! Our goal for 2021 is 30,000 meals, and to date we have donated over 10,000.”


This article was written by Lillian Dickerson from Inman News and was legally licensed through the Industry Dive publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to