Kelly Byers

Kelly Byers Honoured with the Canadian REALTORS Care® Award 2024

The Canadian Real Estate Association (CREA) is proud to honour Kelly Byers of Woodstock, Ontario, with the Canadian REALTORS Care® Award 2024 Proudly Presented by, for being an inspirational force for good in her community.

Growing up with avid volunteers for parents, Kelly Byers, a REALTOR® and salesperson with RE/MAX a-b Realty, learned to look for the needs in her community, and find ways to meet them.

In 2010, as she was driving home from a client appointment listening to the radio, Byers heard of the great need at Woodstock’s  Salvation Army food bank on the radio, and she was determined to help. She approached her brokerage colleagues with the idea of canvassing their community for food bank donations, and they were happy to participate. After a successful drive, Byers approached her local real estate association, Woodstock Ingersoll Tillsonburg and Area Association of REALTORS® (WITAAR), to see what a whole community of REALTORS® could accomplish.

Fourteen years later, the REALTORS Care® Food Drive has collected over 250,000 pounds of food for the Salvation Army and has expanded into many more communities across Oxford County.

“It feels awesome to know that we are able to do so much for our community and for those who are struggling,” reflected Byers. “And it’s pretty cool to see how many REALTORS® step up year-after-year.”

Every spring, more than 100 volunteers go out into their communities to spread the word of the upcoming REALTORS Care® Food Drive.  Byers has been responsible for recruiting countless REALTORS® and community members to volunteer, many of whom have become annual participants. On the first Wednesday of May, they return to their routes to collect the donations left out on the front steps by fellow community members. After completing her own route, Kelly Byers can be found quarterbacking operations at the Woodstock Salvation Army, ensuring that carloads of donations are quickly processed.

“[Many food banks] get their Christmas drive but then have to start shopping May, June, July to try to keep their shelves full,” shared Noel Sterne, Community Ministries Coordinator, Salvation Army Woodstock. “That is less of a concern for us here in Woodstock because of the REALTORS®’ food drive and Kelly’s hard work.”

As a vocal community advocate, Kelly Byers is engaged with many groups that look to support vulnerable people in Woodstock. As a proud member of 100 Women Who Care Oxford County, for which she’s recruited a number of new members, Kelly helps to fund and direct donations to local nonprofits. Her work with the Oxford Local Immigration Partnership looks to address discrimination and create an inclusive Oxford County.

In 2015, Kelly Byers jumped at the opportunity to partner with a handful of community members to bring a family of Syrian refugees to Woodstock. Byers helped to raise thousands of dollars, supported their integration into the community and secured a place for the family to call home.  In the family’s first year in Canada, she spent much of her time helping the family adjust to Canadian life, including our harsh winters, and watching their children.

Byers’ passion for rallying her community to make a positive difference in the lives of those around her can be boiled down to a simple, guiding principle: “At the end of the day, I think that the world is a better place when we all have enough.”

In June of 2023, Kelly Byers life would change, and her many volunteer endeavours would have to be put on pause. She was diagnosed with leukemia and would immediately undergo lifesaving treatment.

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“If you’ve encountered Kelly, she’s learned everything about you. She’s probably gone out of her way to help you,” said close friend Kristy Hons. “No one wants to see anything like this happen to anyone, but I think it’s especially awful when things like this happen to the best people.”

In short order, the community began to rally around the Byers family, knowing that Kelly Byers would be the first in line to offer a helping hand if someone else was in her shoes.

People found ways to give back that would resonate with Byers’ community spirit. When Kelly had a first-hand experience with the healthcare system’s dire need for blood, she put out a call for blood donations that friends, family and REALTORS® were ready to answer.

While she was away receiving care at Toronto’s Sunnybrook Hospital, Byers’ children, Audrey and Mason, rallied their friends for the “Kids Against Leukemia Bake Sale”, to raise money for the hospital’s hematology unit. While the kids were unsure what the result would be, community members packed the street and flooded their online donation page to the tune of nearly $20,000 raised.

With many uncertainties now in their life, Kelly and her husband, Justin, wanted to do something within their control to bring joy to the students at their children’s school. They made a $40,000 donation to install a brand-new play structure.

Kelly Byers’ time of need has demonstrated that her kindness and passion for bettering the lives of others has inspired her own community into action.

In Kelly Byers’ honour, CREA has donated $5,000 to the London Health Sciences Foundation’s Stem Cell Patient Assistance Fund.

Click here to see the 46 REALTORS® nominated for the Canadian REALTORS Care® Award 2024.