Stories celebrate 52 Illinois REALTORS® and the unique ways they give back

Whether they schedule a series of boxing matches, build houses, lead a scout troop or volunteer at a soup kitchen, the 52 REALTORS® listed on the Member Monday page of the Illinois REALTORS® website are committed to the growth of their respective communities.

Please take a look at the stories we featured on Monday mornings throughout 2016 as we celebrated our association’s 100th anniversary.

Judy Stowe

PJ Trautman

Some, like Judy Stowe (Baird & Warner in Glen Ellyn), have been supporting their favorite charity for many years. In her case, 40 years of devotion to Marillac St. Vincent Family Services. Others like P.J. Trautman (Champaign County Realty) keep finding new ways to volunteer.

Chicago-area REALTORS® Ryan Cotter and Greg Pekarsky (Vesta Preferred LLC) helped organize the Chicago Real Estate Rumble to raise money for two charities in Chicago. Tricia Tialdo (Tialdo Realty in Belleville), Scott Newman (Newman Realty, Chicago), Allyson Hoffman (RE/MAX Villager, Glenview) love helping animals, while Gloria Lin (United Real Estate, Chicago) is a volunteer at a weekend Chinese language school for children.

Dale Taylor

Tim Davenport (Christensen Home Town Realtors, Freeport) puts together bowling teams to raise money for Big Brothers/Big Sisters, Maurice Hampton (Centered International Realty, Chicago) mentors students, Beth Ortega (RE/MAX Preferred, O’Fallon) and Mark Guthrie (Mel Foster Co., Kewanee) honor loved ones with annual runs and Dale Taylor (RE/MAX 10, New Lenox) helps a nonprofit serve homeless and disadvantaged families.

In this collection of stories, you’ll find men and women from almost every area of the state, who love their communities and the people who live there.

Kurtz finds niche to help others through his business

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Ryan Kurtz

As 2015 wound to a close, REALTOR® Ryan Kurtz knew he wanted to find a way to give to others as a result of his success in real estate. So he pledged to give $100 to the charity, Feed My Starving Children (FMSC), for every listing he accepted and closed during the calendar year.

In early December, not only did he donate $2,000 to the charity, he led a team of 20 volunteers – many of them clients – to one of FMSC’s food-packing facilities in the Chicago area for an evening of assembly line work, packing food in plastic baggies, sealing them, boxing the bags and preparing them for shipment. The Naperville/Aurora site is large enough for 140 volunteers to pack food at one time.

“I want my clients to know I’m giving back,” he said, explaining one of his reasons for choosing the charity. “We found out that for every $2,000 donated, 25 families can be fed for an entire year. That’s pretty cool. I think I’m going to make this a project every year.”

A former high school teacher, Kurtz joined John Greene Realtor® out of Naperville and Oswego in June 2013, and has been steadily building his business. The 45 transactions he was involved with in 2016 totaled more than $10 million in sales. Most of his sales have come from referrals given by previous clients or friends and acquaintances.

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Kurtz (far right) with clients Paul (center) and John at the Feed My Starving Children facility between Naperville and Aurora.

According to the Feed My Starving Children website, 90 percent of the funds raised by FMSC go to the people it serves in Africa, Asia, the Caribbean, Europe, the Middle East, North America and South America. Founded in 1987, the organization gets a five-star rating from Charity Navigator.

In addition to Feed My Starving Children, Kurtz and his wife give to several local charities during the year. He believes that sometimes his example helps other people realize that they can help others, too. When they discovered a local family didn’t have the financial means to celebrate Christmas, they worked with a charity to find out what the parents and children needed. As he purchased a bicycle at the store, the conversation with another shopper and the cashier seemed to inspire them to do something similar.

Kurtz is a member of the Mainstreet Organization for REALTORS®, the Illinois REALTORS® and the National Association of REALTORS®.

Read the Illinois REALTORS® blog for weekly stories about the community involvement of Illinois REALTORS® during the association’s 100th anniversary year. If you have an idea for a REALTOR® to highlight with an article, please send it to: bkozar@illinoisrealtors.orgTo read more stories like this one, go to: http://www.illinoisrealtor.org/membermonday #MemberMonday #IAR100yearsstrong

Annual 5K provides Guthrie with way to help others, remember wife

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REALTOR® Mark Guthrie (back row, second from right) and other family members in front of the Annawan Community Center. Front row (l to r) are: daughter Sara (Guthrie) Parent; granddaughters Symone and Sasha Parent; daughter Susan (Guthrie) Mercier; and grandson Timothee Mercier. Back row: son-in-law Patrick and daughter Stephanie (Guthrie) Boilini; Lauren Dynes, Annawan Community Center Recreation Coordinator; Annawan Mayor Tim Wells; Guthrie; and son-in-law Dave Mercier. Son-in-law Marcus Parent was unable to attend.

“I come from a relatively small home town where community involvement and giving back is very important,” says Kewanee-area REALTOR® Mark Guthrie. So, to hear that he has been involved in a number of charitable endeavors during his adult life is not surprising.

Guthrie grew up on a family farm north of Annawan, about 12 miles from Kewanee, starting an auctioneering career in 1986. On numerous occasions, he has donated those auctioneering talents to charitable causes, such as fundraisers for area school districts, his church and for people in need.

“I’m always glad to help out anyone in need by offering my services at no charge,” he says.

But starting in 2004, Guthrie and his family experienced numerous changes that still reverberate today. First, his wife Carol was diagnosed with breast cancer, which led to her juggling numerous doctor’s visits and treatments in between her usual responsibilities. The couple and their three daughters (Sara, Susan and Stephanie) became involved in local fundraising activities for cancer research, including an American Cancer Society’s Relay for Life event for Henry and Stark counties. In 2006, Mark earned his real estate license, became an Illinois REALTOR® and joined the Mel Foster Co. in Kewanee. Then, in December 2008 Carol lost her battle and died.

In his wife’s memory, Mark came up with the idea to hold an annual 5K road race, and the first year, 100 runners participated, with the proceeds donated to the Relay for Life. The “Carol M. Guthrie Memorial 5K Run/Walk” continues to be an annual event that helps local charities and families in need.

“The race has grown every year,” says Guthrie, noting 300 runners last year. “The proceeds have ranged from about $3,000 the first year to approximately $13,000. Last year, we gave $6,000 to the Annawan Community Center for landscaping. In each of the two previous years, we gave proceeds to a family in need.”

Planning for the annual event usually begins in January and is held in early June. Guthrie says colleagues have been very helpful with the race, providing support through donations and by volunteering. His daughters handle the advertising and the organization of the 5K.

“My wife and I enjoyed walking and running together before she got sick,” says Guthrie, who will soon start work on the ninth annual event. “I thought the 5K would be a great way to honor her and keep her spirit alive.

“She was a true fighter and never gave up. Cancer didn’t stop her,” Guthrie says. “She continued to work every day and take care of things. I can still see her sitting in a chair, working on a sale bill while having a chemo treatment. When our children and grandchildren would visit, she would take care of them and put smiles on their faces.”

In addition to the keeping the memories of her fresh in his mind and helping others with the proceeds, he wants to keep the annual event growing. He says: “It gives me a good feeling to have family, friends and the community come together every year for this project.”

Guthrie is a member of the Mid-Valley Association of REALTORS®, the Illinois REALTORS® and the National Association of REALTORS®.

Officers for Mid-Valley are: Mary Jo Gibson, President (Mel Foster Company, Kewanee); Will Sagmoen, Vice President (Arrow Real Estate, Kewanee); and Nancy Sutton, Treasurer (Century 21 Sutton & Associates, Kewanee). Bunne Baum is the Association Executive.

Read the Illinois REALTORS® blog for weekly stories about the community involvement of Illinois REALTORS® during the association’s 100th anniversary year. If you have an idea for a REALTOR® to highlight with an article, please send it to: bkozar@illinoisrealtors.orgTo read more stories like this one, go to: http://www.illinoisrealtor.org/membermonday #MemberMonday #IAR100yearsstrong

Dolan and friends keep feeding Aurora food pantry

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Brian Dolan

One of the most inspiring people Aurora-area REALTOR® Brian Dolan has ever met was the late Marie Wilkinson of Aurora. Described as a social activist and credited with helping Illinois pass the state’s first Fair Housing Ordinance in 1968, Wilkinson also dedicated her life to helping the less fortunate and her accomplishments on their behalf were numerous.

As fate would have it, Dolan held a property listing for the building that would house the Marie Wilkinson Food Pantry. That eventually led Wilkinson to invite Dolan to help the pantry, and 15 years later, he’s still serving on its board of directors.

“Over the years, we have been involved with numerous charitable organizations in town,” says Dolan, a principal at Dolan and Murphy, Inc. “We’ve sponsored Aurora Boys Baseball and Fast-Pitch Softball and we’ve sponsored the traveling fast-pitch softball team named the Dolan & Murphy Shamrocks (formerly known as the Sealmasters of Aurora). My brother Danny (REALTOR® Daniel T. Dolan) has been very involved with the Annual Holiday Food Drive that benefits the Aurora Interfaith Food Pantry. But the charity I’ve been most involved with is the Marie Wilkinson Food Pantry.” Read more about Wilkinson.

Although the organization has much activity this time of year, Dolan says his involvement is year-round, as is the need to help the hungry in Aurora. He says it is rewarding to help the pantry and he is energized by many of the volunteers. But the most satisfying aspect of his involvement is when people who once sought help at the pantry return to tell stories of their own successes and to help others.

Dolan began his real estate career in 1977, earned his CCIM designation is 1988 and has specialized in industrial, commercial and investment real estate.

He was initially a member of the Aurora Board of REALTORS® and the Northern Illinois Commercial Association of REALTORS® (NICAR).  He served eight years on the NICAR Board of Directors and four years as chair of the Sponsorship Committee. With Illinois REALTORS®, he served on the Commercial Industrial Investment Committee in 2013 and 2015. Served on Public Policy and Governmental Affairs Major Investment Group in 2013.

He’s also a principal in Dolan and Murphy Management, LLC, which manages nearly 1 million square feet of retail, office and industrial properties for more than 15 years. He’s been involved in more than $30 million in real estate transactions over the course of his career.

Read the Illinois REALTORS® blog for weekly stories about the community involvement of Illinois REALTORS® during the association’s 100th anniversary year. If you have an idea for a REALTOR® to highlight with an article, please send it to: bkozar@illinoisrealtors.orgTo read more stories like this one, go to: http://www.illinoisrealtor.org/membermonday #MemberMonday #IAR100yearsstrong

REALTOR® Short looks out for Logan County dogs

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Logan County REALTOR® Brenda Short holds “Chip,” a Yorkie mix that was adopted shortly after the photo was taken.

Logan County REALTOR® Brenda Short has a soft spot in her heart for dogs.

The managing broker for Brady Realtors in Lincoln and Clinton has been volunteering at the Logan County Humane Society for more than five years, and has been part of a group who would like to see a dog park built in Lincoln.

“At the Humane Society, I donate my time and for the last four months I have been grooming some of the dogs that come there,” says Short. “I am on the steering committee for the ‘Central Bark at City Center’ Dog Park that we would like to have in Lincoln, specifically on fundraising subcommittee.”

Short says her work with the Humane Society is rewarding. “I love to be able to groom the adoptable dogs. It makes the dog feel better, and shows the full potential of the dog.  After they’re groomed, I put their pictures on my Facebook page, which usually starts a lot of conversations about the dogs, and hopefully ends up in an adoption for the Humane Society!

“With the dog park, it was a learning experience to go before the city council and help present this project.  We have a great leader of our group, but I spoke on added benefits for the community from a REALTOR’S® perspective.”

Short, who started her real estate career in 1998, became a managing broker in 2009. She has been an active member of the Logan County Board of REALTORS® and the Bloomington-Normal Association of REALTORS® for many years. She’s served as committee chairperson for both the RPAC and Public Relations committees in Logan County.

“We sponsor fundraising events for RPAC every year,” says Short. “For public relations, we served on community projects, and attended several city council meetings when city zoning wanted to place mandates on sprinkler systems in area homes.  We have also attended one-on-one sessions with city zoning officers in regards to other regulations that would affect homeowners.  It was very satisfying to work with community leaders and be a voice for homeowners about mandates that could affect them.  I’ve also attended Logan County Board finance meetings to voice concerns on behalf of homeowners regarding property taxes.

“Real estate and being involved in the community go hand-in-hand,” says Short. “It’s not just a way of networking, but it’s a sense of deeper attachment to my community.”

Read the Illinois REALTORS® blog for weekly stories about the community involvement of Illinois REALTORS® during the association’s 100th anniversary year. If you have an idea for a REALTOR® to highlight with an article, please send it to: bkozar@illinoisrealtors.orgTo read more stories like this one, go to: http://www.illinoisrealtor.org/membermonday #MemberMonday #IAR100yearsstrong