For Champaign-area REALTOR® P.J. Trautman, showing teenagers the value of volunteering for local charities was one of the best volunteer experiences of the past year.
“I really enjoyed engaging with the Summer Youth Employment Program (SYEP) youth during their civic engagement weekend,” says Trautman. “It was awesome to see the students engage with different organizations. It also helped them understand the need for volunteerism in Central Illinois.”
Through the 2016 United Way Emerging Community Leader Program, Trautman and five other young adults partnered with kids age 14 to 19 in the SYEP. They formed a team to represent the Champaign School District and organized multiple projects over a weekend. Activities included:
- Sorting clothing and household goods for a local thrift store and an emergency resource center;
- Playing games and helping residents of assisted living facilities and nursing homes with arts and crafts projects;
- Cleaning a local horse rescue center and feeding the animals;
- Helping with a Habitat for Humanity project;
- Helping at a community garden; and
- Sorting and shelving books at a children’s bookstore that supports orphans, foster children and families.
But the broker for Champaign County Realty says that his work with SYEP was just one of his volunteer projects during the past year. “This year I volunteered for the Eastern Illinois Food Bank, United Way, Habitat for Humanity, and within the Champaign County Association of REALTORS® I regularly help coordinate and facilitate our annual Bundles of Warmth Blanket Drive and Box Fan Drive for needy individuals in our community. These blankets and fans are donated to numerous local charities and emergency resource centers.
“This year I also volunteered to be on the Eastern Illinois Foodbank Prom Court. The Eastern Illinois Foodbank provides more than 47,000 meals a month to partner agencies that provide food to alleviate hunger in East Central Illinois. The Eastern Illinois Foodbank Prom is an adult prom, much like the prom you remember from high school. Males and females volunteer to raise money for the foodbank as members of the prom court. The top male is crowned as king and the top female is selected as queen. In addition, the night included an auction, a raffle, food, an open bar, a DJ and dancing.”
Why get involved?
“United Way and the Eastern Illinois Food Bank are great organizations that support multiple local charitable organizations,” he says. “It was a great way to meet other young professionals who want to take an active leadership role in our local community, and to help facilitate actual assistance to a wide variety of organizations in the Central Illinois area.”
Trautman, who was born and raised in the Champaign/Urbana area, says: “I think volunteering in your local community is a fantastic opportunity. It helps you engage and meet people you might not typically associate with. It is extremely rewarding and enlightening. I have met dozens of awesome people while volunteering. I believe volunteering helps you understand the needs and struggles within the community you serve as a professional. Champaign/Urbana and Central Illinois have afforded me an amazing opportunity to earn a living in a very vibrant and diverse community, and I enjoying giving back to it.”
Starting local and expanding
Trautman, who became a REALTOR® in 2008, has served the Champaign County Association of REALTORS® through several committees and working groups, including: the CMLS Committee, Member Services Working Group, Public Relations and Marketing Committee, Governmental Affairs Committee, Affiliate Networking Working Group and Young Professionals Network.
“I also speak as an appraiser member to our incoming new members at membership orientation. I provide these new members with insight on how the appraisal portion of a transaction works. I am currently enrolled in the Illinois REALTORS® Leadership Development Program, and I am a member of the state association’s Professionals Standards Committee and Professional Development Member Involvement Group.”
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