Giving Back

Returns to the community are important to many groups.

As the calendar starts with a clean slate at the beginning of a new year, so do the plans of various groups, companies, and associations. A component for many of them is to give something back to the community.

There are various ways to accomplish that, of course. Some prefer a major event to end the year with a flourish. Others prefer to make giving back a priority throughout the year. Two groups involved with homes in the Des Moines area take that route. Throughout the year, they plan innovative ways to make inroads in the field of building and marketing to contribute to the community that supports them in the building and ownership of homes.

Des Moines Area Association of REALTORS® (DMAAR)

“Yes, we could just support one charity or another,” says Cindy Pelz, executive officer of DMAAR. “But, for us, it’s important to spread our efforts among several groups. It’s a good way for us to give back to the community as a whole.”

Besides the association itself, the group has the DMAAR Foundation, which in 2017 supported 13 different charities with about $5,000 to each group. “Since 2008 the foundation has donated about $500,000,” says Pelz. She has been with the group for about a decade.

A big program this year was the group’s annual golf outing in June, which raised $16,000 to donate to Variety–the Children’s Charity.

Various association members participated this year in Hammers and Heels, during which women members work with Habitat for Humanity to build homes. Another program DMAAR supports is Rebuilding Together; members help a military veteran and work with him or her to update or remodel a home. “This year, for example, we worked with a female Navy veteran to paint the interior of her home, update the bathroom, and overhaul the home’s front steps. Plus, she had an infestation of bees in her basement, which we helped to eradicate.” Members also helped the Salvation Army in Iowa REALTORS® Red Kettle Ring Days in locations such as Pella, Knoxville, Newton, Perry, Des Moines, West Des Moines, Altoona, Ankeny, Norwalk, and Clive.

The association also became a sponsor for the Des Moines Central Campus Skilled Trades Academy. “By supporting the program, we’re helping to support the future of the real estate industry,” Pelz explains.

DMAAR also applied for and received a $16,500 grant, which it presented to the Des Moines Area Metropolitan Planning Organization for the Water Trails and Greenways Plan, which covers creeks, rivers, and greenway areas. “A grant like this helps us to find out what people really want in their areas,” Pelz says.

“The overall goal, of course, is to invest in our communities and to build relationships,” she says. “Needless to say, it’s a win-win situation
for everyone.”

Home Builders Association of Greater Des Moines (HBA)

The HBA works throughout the year to support local home-building programs, says Melisa Cox, the group’s partnership and publications manager. Dan Knoup is the executive officer of the association.

“We work with our member companies on a number of programs,” Cox says. “For example, in conjunction with the Gary Sinise Foundation, we are working with Modern Touches, an Urbandale home improvement and remodeling company, to remodel a home for a veteran and her family.” Actor Gary Sinise has worked for many years to support the military community.

Another project Cox is proud of is the HBA’s support of a program sponsored by the Cover My 6 Foundation (“Cover My 6” is a military term meaning “cover my back”). The foundation sponsors a national slow-pitch softball program for veterans and active duty servicemen who have endured amputations and other injuries during active duty. Proceeds from the program go for remodeling the kitchen (also by Modern Touches) of the same veteran DMAAR is helping.

“Our women’s organization, which we are revitalizing, helped this year with the Hammers and Heels program to help Habitat for Humanity build a home,” Cox says. “We also work with Frampton Homes in promoting the Make A Wish 2018 Charity Home; proceeds will go to help grant a wish for a child.”

HBA also is a sponsor of the Des Moines Central Campus Skilled Trades Academy to encourage young people, especially high school students, to learn building trades.

“A new project for us this year included our Remodelers Council, with members donating materials and labor to create garden boxes or raised beds for a new park in Des Moines. It’s the new Downtown Community Garden in Allen Park, 800 SE 6th Street. There are 40 plots there for gardeners who might live in apartments or lofts downtown but would like some garden space,” Cox says.

She says all the association’s projects give a “feel good” experience for members in addition to helping people in the communities in which HBA members build homes.