REALTORS Care® Spotlight: Cindi LoForti Lepp is Designing Brighter Futures for Women and Children in the Niagara Region

Cindi LoForti Lepp, a REALTOR® and salesperson at McGarr Realty with REVEL Realty Inc., Brokerage, has been empowering and advocating for women and children in the Niagara Region for decades. Her strong belief in the value of secure, affordable housing for families, and its impact on children’s mental health, has driven her to play a pivotal role for numerous charities across the region.

“Giving back to community is incredibly important, we all have a responsibility to do that,” says LoForti Lepp.

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One charity that Cindi has passionately supported in many ways is Habitat for Humanity Niagara. She used her connections in the construction industry to source materials and supplies at little to no cost, reducing overhead and increasing the number of homes that Habitat for Humanity Niagara could build.

Armed with her interior design expertise, Cindi also worked to improve the layout and flow of their floor plans and sat down with Habitat families to help them personalize the interiors, giving them a true feeling of home from day one.

“Cindi is dedicated,” says Habitat for Humanity Niagara CEO Mark Carl. “She cares, she never stops, and she’s advocating every chance she can for the need for more affordable housing for the individuals in Niagara”

Aerial image of the Fonthill ReStore surrounded by farmland

In 2015, Habitat was opening a new ReStore in Fonthill, Ontario, and Cindi’s design-focused mind once again proved greatly useful for the organization. Her reimagining of the ReStore experience created a boutique environment where crafted and lightly used houseware were surrounded by inspiring quotes and impactful photos. This fresh approach created quick success, and the Fonthill location became a training ground for ReStore managers across Canada.

By the time Cindi joined McGarr Realty in 2020, she was now leading the Board of Directors at Habitat for Humanity Niagara, helping generate a new vision for the organization focused on structured growth, increased gender diversity in leadership, and the consistent, efficient development of affordable homes.

Inspired by her efforts, her brokerage became a sponsor and volunteered at a build site, helping to construct a semi-detached 4-bedroom house. This build project would become home to a mother of three who, as a Personal Support Worker stationed in long-term care facilities during the pandemic, was having to sleep and eat in the bathroom of her one-bedroom apartment to keep both her children and her patients safe.

McGarr Realty Team in Habitat for Humanity volunteer shirts, hardhats, and steel-toed boots stand together smiling in front of a partially built home.

“We used to walk or bike all around Welland trying to find a house, but we couldn’t find any. When we got this house, it was just a miracle,” shares the eldest son, who is now in college with plans to save for his own home in the future.

A desire to create better futures for children drove Cindi to volunteer on the Youth Without Secure Housing Committee, where she worked with charities across the sector to create a funding action plan for the federal and provincial governments to combat youth homelessness in the Niagara Region. It was through this work that Cindi became connected to YWCA Niagara Region. She quickly became Chair of the Board, working on their strategic plans and once again setting a vision for their continued growth.

Cindi stands at a podium in front of a group of seated attendees at a YWCA AGM

“There’s a statement that I used when working with the YWCA and that is, healthy mothers raise healthy children,” shares Cindi. “We need to support women so that they are grounded, they feel they’re supported, they’re secure, they feel that they’ve got somebody surrounding them, a support group, and those individuals, those women will raise healthy children.”

To find ways to create this support network, she acted as a delegate to the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women for YWCA Canada in 2015, 2016, and 2017, bringing back knowledge and strategies that would help empower women nationwide.

When her time on their board was complete, Cindi continued to support YWCA Niagara, both on their development committee and as their REALTOR®, providing guidance on the acquisition and selling of properties to support the community demand for their growing list of programs. And, when asked to revive a faltering Y the W Campaign, she helped raise the $2.1 million needed for the construction of the Oakdale Commons Building, which now provides administrative space, shelter services and both long-term and transitional housing for women and families.

“Cindi’s impact goes beyond her words; it’s in her actions. Her instrumental role in the Y the W Capital Campaign stands as a testament to her commitment,” says YWCA Niagara’s Executive Director, Elisabeth Zimmerman.

Cindi stands proudly in front of the YWCA Niagara Oakdale Commons Building

This was not the only capital campaign where Cindi has left her mark. Following the success of the Y the W campaign, Cindi joined the Capital Campaign Committee for Pathstone Mental Health and raised $5.2 million to build a new child and youth mental health facility to help care for young individuals struggling while fostering resilience.

“I always say there’s time, talent, and treasures, the three Ts,” says Cindi. “And it’d be really ideal if you could give all three. If you can’t just give the one that you can. If you can give your time, share it like the volunteers at Habitat and at the YWCA or Pathstone. And volunteer your talents, whatever you’re gifted in, give that to an organization. And of course, treasures, capital campaigns, you have to give first before you ask others to give.”

From construction sites to board rooms, this Canadian REALTORS Care® Award 2024 nominee has given her all for local women and the next generation and sees brighter futures ahead for her community.

REALTORS Care® Spotlight shares stories of how featured nominees of the Canadian REALTORS Care® Award are working to make their communities a better place for all.

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