It’s not unusual for a professional organization to give back to the community through a financial contribution to a charitable cause.
The Victoria Real Estate Board (VREB) has certainly been one such organization, as a long-time supporter of a wide variety of charities and causes in Greater Victoria. But for the past two years the VREB has transcended the typical financial contribution and, through their support of HeroWork, has given in a manner that demonstrates their support of the community.
Recently, that support was honoured by HeroWork when they awarded the VREB with the organization’s Golden Hammer Award.
It all started two years ago when the real estate board first became aware of the efforts of HeroWork, a charitable organization dedicated to the renewal of non-profit physical infrastructure. The organization works to build community by renovating the often crumbling physical structures within which charitable organizations operate. Their 2016 project, the Rainbow Kitchen, gave new life to a community kitchen that serves 6,000 meals a day to those most in need.
The VREB saw the value of HeroWork’s efforts and elected to donate $20,000 to the project.
But it didn’t stop there.
“We chose HeroWork, in part, because it allowed us to get in there and get our hands dirty as we became an active part of the work of the organization,” said Sandi-Jo Ayers, director and former head of the VREB community relations committee.
“It was tremendous for our members to get involved and swing a hammer or do some landscaping and truly become a part of the work we were supporting.”
According to Paul Latour, founder and executive director of HeroWork, the realtors of the VREB became enthusiastic supporters of the project.
“They certainly got right in there, digging on the grounds to help with landscaping, doing some carpentry work and generally doing whatever jobs we had at the time. They helped out during our opening and closing ceremonies for the project as well…they are just lovely people,” he said.
But the contribution of the VREB to HeroWork continued in other ways as well. Through their strong community and business contacts arranged for the donation of much needed furnishings and equipment for the Rainbow Kitchen.
The board has also indicated their willingness to put their expertise to work on behalf of HeroWork by helping in the preparation of a needs assessment in Victoria — work designed to lay the foundation for a strategic plan for the charity.
“No one knows the city better than the realtors,” said Latour.
“They know the condition of the buildings, who owns them and what work needs to be done to help charities in those buildings operate effectively. The fact that they’re willing to put that expertise to work for us shows you just how community oriented and caring these people are.”
Ayers said many of the VREB members have become committed to HeroWork for the long-term, and even though the VREB may move on to supporting other charities in years to come, several of its members have already expressed interest in continuing to personally offer support to future HeroWork projects.
They’ll have their chance this year again, when HeroWork begins work on a project to provide a facility for the work of Power To Be, an organization dedicated to making nature accessible to people living with disabilities and barriers.