NAR logo on top of blue washed background of people doing community service work

Volunteerism and mentorship cornerstones of NAR award programs 

Volunteering Works and the Good Neighbor Awards recognize real estate agents who donate their time and skills to community organizations.

February 24, 2023
3 minutes

Key points:

  • NAR's annual award programs provide mentorship and grants to recipients and the charitable organizations they support.
  • The Good Neighbor Awards date back to 2000, and Volunteering Works launched in 2014.
  • The awards "demonstrate how much realtors do to uplift their communities."

Real estate agents who volunteer in their communities are one million strong. 

But only 15 will be honored in 2023 through a pair of NAR programs whose mission is to support and advance the local charitable efforts of real estate agents and the causes they represent. 

Volunteering Works and the Good Neighbor Awards recognize real estate agents who donate their time and efforts to community-based projects and services. Both programs offer financial and mentorship assistance to honorees.

"Mentoring is not just about sharing knowledge, it's about investing in the future," said Kenny Parcel, NAR president. He described volunteers as making "a lasting impact" on the communities they serve.

The deadlines are approaching for nominations for each of the programs. 

Applications for Volunteering Works, sponsored by Wells Fargo Home Lending, are due March 30. Submissions for the Good Neighbor Awards, sponsored by, are due April 19. Here is a closer look at each program.

Volunteering Works: Hands-on help

Now in its 14th year, Volunteering Works provides $1,000 in seed money and mentorship to five agents through the community-based charitable organizations where they volunteer. Volunteering Works has honored a total of 70 recipients since its inception through the hands-on help of mentors.

Honorees include Michael Hunstad, broker-owner at Counselor Realty in Anoka, Minnesota, where he helped to transform a small holiday gift program into a major charitable outreach called Toys for Joy that delivers thousands of gifts each year to children. A 2019 recipient of Volunteering Works, Hunstad was connected with mentor Louise (McLean) Lorenz of RE/MAX Solutions in Merritt Island, Florida. She helped Hunstad with strategic planning, expanding programs and recruiting volunteers. 

"My mentorship with Louise allowed my vision of expanding Toys for Joy into a year-round charity to become a reality," Hunstad said about the outreach and support of mentorship provided through Volunteering Works.

Indeed, the mentorships help local charities further their missions and reach goals for recruiting volunteers, raising money and running the organization.

Good Neighbor Awards: Giving back to communities, agents

The Good Neighbor Awards, launched in 2000, recognizes real estate agents who have made an extraordinary impact through volunteering and offers $10,000 in grants for the winners' charities. 

Five winners are honored at NAR's annual conference, along with five runners-up who each receive $2,500 for their charities.

SIice its inception, the Good Neighbor Awards have celebrated the volunteerism of 230 real estate agents. Recipients have supported a range of causes including food insecurity, at-risk youth, homelessness, addiction and more.

Past winners become part of NAR's Good Neighbor Society, where they have the opportunity to forward the lessons they learned by mentoring real estate agents who are in the Volunteering Works program.

Sara Geimer, NAR's manager for community engagement programs, said that as mentors, the Good Neighbor agents provide skills and lessons learned from "years of experience to help overcome challenges, set goals and find new ways of thinking."

"The national award is intended to shine a spotlight on incredible volunteer accomplishments to demonstrate how much realtors do to uplift their communities," Geimer said.

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