Virginia is the home of many of our nation’s veterans. In fact, nearly one in ten state residents are either veterans or active members of our nation’s armed forces. And, a great many of these veterans have returned home with life impacting disabilities. Because of this, Virginia’s REALTORS® have started to address the unique challenges that injured veterans encounter in regards to home ownership.
“Injured veterans face challenges that could be marginalizing without the support that comes from REALTORS® and other community leaders committed to inclusion in housing and society,” said Deborah A. Baisden, 2015 President of the Virginia Association of REALTORS® (VAR).
A plan to support disabled veterans recently came out of VAR’s biennial Leadership Academy that was funded with a $5,000 diversity grant from the REALTOR® Party. The diverse group of Virginia REALTORS® came together with the single purpose of leading positive change in their communities. In the end, they decided to launch an ambitious fundraising effort to benefit Homes for Our Troops (HFOT), a non-profit organization that provides mortgage-free homes to severely injured 9/11 veterans.
In just 12 short weeks, the REALTORS® were able to raise more than $50,000 by reaching out to local REALTOR® boards and private funding sources. The VAR provided additional financial support, bringing the total HFOT donation to $62,000. “The passion that this group of REALTORS® has for this cause is just spectacular,” says Baisden. “It really exemplifies the role and the value of REALTORS® in their communities.”
Statistics from the Department of Veterans Affairs show that the number of disabled veterans is on the rise. Because of this, VAR now hosts online fundraising for HFOT throughout the year, and is working with the organization to create hands-on volunteering opportunities for REALTORS®.
“Fundraising is just the first goal of our partnership with HFOT,” says Baisden, “but raising awareness is as important.” Baisden also says that HFOT is working with other REALTORS® associations throughout the United States in hopes to expand their partnership even further.