REALTORS Care® Week Spotlight: Kingston and Area Real Estate Association Serves their Community, in More Ways than One

Food insecurity is one of the major social determinants of health in Canada, and is closely linked to our physical and mental wellbeing. Being able to grab a snack when we’re hungry or cook a lavish dinner for our families during the holidays is a privilege not all Canadians have access to. Addressing the need of this vulnerable population won’t be concurred easily, but with the assistance of motivated people across the country, we can help dedicated organizations provide services where they’re needed most.

Over the course of REALTORS Care® Week 2022, the Kingston and Area Real Estate Association (KAREA) organized several opportunities for REALTORS® to get involved and make an impact within their communities. REALTORS® from across the association joined Lionhearts Inc., The Food Sharing Project, and the Morningstar Relief Mission Inc. to sort, pack, deliver, and serve food for those in need.

“Since the Kingston and Area Real Estate Association covers a large geographical area, it’s important to reach out to groups that are in underserved areas or that support all areas that we, as REALTORS®️, serve. That’s why we’ve partnered with three great organizations this year that are committed to feeding our community: the Food Sharing Project, Lionhearts Inc., and Morningstar Relief Mission. With help from the administration at KAREA, we’ve built a week-long schedule where REALTOR® members can pop in for two hours of volunteering when they’re able. It’s a small thing that makes a huge impact,” said REALTOR® Mary Ambrose, Chair of the KAREA’s Public Relations Committee.

Lionhearts Inc. was launched in 2014 as a way for a group of friends to support disenfranchised communities in Kingston. They serve every demographic believing “we all need support at some point in our lives and some of us have greater challenges to overcome.”

More than 160 volunteers from across the province regularly lend their time and efforts to this growing movement.

“Most charities and non-profits can function because of the help and hard work volunteers do. Many of the jobs are simplistic but are done in high volume. So, when an extra team comes in to assist at Lionhearts it gives us the ability to utilize extra hands and get a great deal of our tasks done. “The result is that we can help our clients in a big way. We wouldn’t exist without our volunteers! We are so grateful for the time the KAREA REALTORS® took out of their week to come and assist us,” said Emma Cox, Lionhearts’ Volunteer Coordinator.

From November 14-17,26 REALTORS® took part in sorting produce, packing boxes, and delivering almost 300 food boxes to food-insecure students across Kingston, Frontenac, and Lennox and Addington (KFL&A).

The Food Sharing Project helps deliver much needed nutrition to the community, helping fuel a healthy, stigma-free, student nutrition program, in 88 schools across the region.

Since 1985, The Food Sharing Project has facilitated these programs to give students “access to healthy food [so they] can focus better on their academic tasks, are more engaged in their learning, and have more positive social interactions.”

Volunteers are at the heart of the work done at The Food Sharing Project, with more than 1,000 volunteer hours needed each week for the program to run smoothly.

For Andy Mills, Executive Director at The Food Sharing Project, without volunteers helping pack food boxes, they couldn’t do what they do.

“The group put in the equivalent of one person working 40 hours, and packed boxes of healthy food for over 60 schools in KFL&A. Students at those schools are the benefactors of this goodwill. By having volunteers pack food, we can get it to all schools throughout KFL&A so any student who needs nutritious food can access it. Because of our volunteers, no child at school will go through the day hungry. We are grateful for our volunteers,” he said.

Thanks to the efforts of local REALTORS®, more than 300 boxes— 7,000 pounds of healthy food—were packed and prepared for delivery to children ready to learn.

The third group KAREA rallied around was the Morningstar Relief Mission, an inclusive space, offering many services from an income tax program to holiday dinners, and much more in between. Their goal is to help those living in poverty, homelessness, or near homelessness to “rebuild their lives” and “continue to be a source of hope and help to everyone who comes through our doors, and to the many people we reach through mobile services”. Morningstar Relief Mission is one of the beneficiaries of donations from Lionhearts, and, in their words, they consider themselves lucky to “take actual lemons and turn them into lemonade!”

During REALTORS Care® Week, 14REALTORS® helped serve, pack, and deliver meals to the community. Morningstar Relief Mission is powered by volunteers like those from KAREA year-round, in order to offer their services.

According to Kevin Alkenbrack, Executive Director of Morningstar Relief Mission, “People that we serve come from a background of poverty, isolation, addiction, mental health crisis and so having people come in, having REALTORS® come in and be a part of the action here at Morningstar is just really helpful for everybody.”

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