Agents of Change: Laurie Read honors her brother, helps protect police
Utah agent Laurie Read launched a foundation in her brother’s memory that funds equipment to "protect the officers who put their lives on the line every day."
Editor's note: Across the country, agents are giving back to their communities and their industry. Here, we shine a light on people creating positive change and inspiring others to look for ways they can make a difference as well.
At 6-foot-4-inches, Jason Read was a "big burly guy" who towered over most people he met on his beat as a police officer with the Centerville City Police Department in Utah. He also had a heart of gold, recalls Laurie Read, his younger sister.
Jason Read died in 2018 following an off-duty traffic accident, when his motorcycle was struck by another vehicle. Compelled to turn her loss into something positive for the community, Laurie Read founded a nonprofit in her brother's name, the Jason W. Read Protect and Serve Foundation.
Read, a real estate broker who runs Dream Utah Homes, launched the foundation in 2019 to provide protective equipment and training for police officers, with the express purpose of keeping officers alive and safe on the beat.
"Jason was willing to do anything for everybody. He was a giant of a man who wanted to make sure everyone around him felt protected and safe. He is no longer here to protect the public," Read said, "but we can help protect the officers who put their lives on the line every day. And we can protect them in Jason's name."
Last year alone, the foundation raised nearly $40,000 that funded equipment and training at 11 police departments in northern Utah. "The support we get has been mind-blowing," Read said. "It is so neat when we take these donations to police departments. I see these big guys break down in tears; they are so grateful for the help and to know that the public cares."
The foundation hosts fundraisers, such as a 5K road race held this fall on the anniversary of Jason Read's death, and online raffles via Facebook.
All of the foundation's work is voluntary. There is no paid staff or bricks-and-mortar office, and every donation is invested back into the community. "Our foundation stands out a little more, because there is no overhead," Read said. "We give 100% right back."
Laurie Read serves on the board of the nonprofit, along with her brother's widow, Danielle Read, and two police officers — Jeremy Brown and Mark Taggart — who bring their expertise and understanding of the frontline needs of police officers across northern Utah.
The board reviews every application from police agencies for equipment and special training. Read said that she has been surprised by how the requests are uniformly to meet basic on-the-job needs. No one is looking for a handout or anything extra beyond the everyday needs of keeping officers safe.
While managing a foundation takes a huge investment of work, time and commitment, Read also dedicates herself to growing her real estate business. She became an agent in 2016 and now owns and operates Dream Utah Homes in Ogden, which is part of The Real Brokerage.
Read's advice to agents and other small business owners who want to thrive in difficult times? "Let go," she said. "The more I tried to balance being a wife, mother, business owner and real estate agent, the harder it got for me. It was getting to a place of understanding that schedules get messed up. If you can be present in the moment, everything else falls into place."
Read said her long-term goal with the foundation is to bring comfort and instill a legacy of pride in the family, friends and associates of her brother. She wants to make sure that no one ever forgets him. Five to 10 years from now, Read would like to see the foundation grow beyond northern Utah to a statewide presence and evolve into a national organization.
"The reason I named this foundation after my brother is that at his funeral someone talked about how we die two deaths — our physical death and when our name is no longer spoken," Read said. "He was too great of a man to be forgotten. Everyone needs to know who he was. We want to reach the world."