A group of real estate agents from Baird & Warner in Arlington Heights took on a new challenge this summer: collecting a variety of silent auction items for a charity fundraiser that resonates with them.
They are the newest group of volunteers to come forward to help the Arlington Heights-based Faith Community Homes, whose mission is to nurture struggling Northwest suburban families to a brighter future.
If you goWhat: "Giving Hope" fundraiser to benefit Faith Community Homes
Where: Metropolis Ballroom, 111 W. Campbell St. in Arlington Heights
When: 4-6:30 p.m. Sept. 24
Cost: $55 per person
Literally, these Realtors have tapped into their networks to obtain sports tickets, entertainment packages, golf outings, theater tickets and even created a wine raffle as an added moneymaker.
They will be on hand to open the "Giving Hope" fundraiser, which starts at 4 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 24, with their silent auction in the Metropolis Ballroom in Arlington Heights. The evening builds toward their headliner, comic Rocky LaPorte of Comedy Central.
Claudia Starck, one of the brokers with the agency, serves on its board and she recruited her co-workers to carry out the company's "good will network" and give back to the communities they serve.
"Being in the housing industry, we believe in the Faith Community Home mission and its efforts to help others avoid the possibility of homelessness," Starck says.
Shaunna Burhop, who coordinated their auction efforts, says it has been a labor of love.
"Being a real estate agent, I see how important it is to families to feel they are able to provide a safe and nurturing environment for their children," Burhop says, adding that because the agency specifically aids families with children -- right in the community -- she was hooked.
James Mayer of Inverness serves as chairman of its board of directors. He says the agency fields calls from families needing help, but many do not meet their criteria of making some life adjustments in order for the organization's assistance to work.
"They need help right now," Mayer says, "but they also realize they must make changes in their life practices in order to turn (our) two years of assistance into a sustained life-changing experience."
Specifically, the organization will help pay rent for up to two years while families meet with trained volunteer mentors and coaches. Something new this year is that the organization will fund educational tuition for parents and provide child care while they are at school.
"This is the newest area of our support," Mayer adds, "but one that is critically important in helping move our families into a higher level of employability and income earning position."
Organizers hope to fund this educational component from their fundraiser, which also will celebrate 15 years of helping local families get back on their feet.
Faith Community Homes formed in 2002, when the 14 church congregations within the Arlington Heights Ministerial Association formed an initiative to provide attainable housing and support for low-income working families in the Arlington Heights community.
Over the years, the nonprofit organization has broadened to include families in Wheeling and Palatine townships, and has drawn the active support of more than two dozen faith communities across the suburbs, as well as 25 business partners.
Tim Wayman of Arlington Heights owns one of those business partners, AlphaGraphics in Lisle. He and his wife, Connie, originally volunteered as mentors to families, but now he has stepped up his involvement as a member of its board.
At the board level, he is learning just how many people help out as volunteers. They have groups supporting a food pantry for the families, others collecting school supplies for the children, and many who ensure that parents can provide gifts to their children during the holidays.
"It's incredible that we have so many people giving just massive amounts of their time to Faith Community Homes," Wayman says. "It demonstrates just how many people want to give back to their community."