Saturday, 8 October 2011

My Passion Unites with My Career

When I returned home to Nassau in 2005, I had ideas in my head as to how the next few years would pan out. I needed to get a job, save up to get a house, and once I was settled I would focus on giving back to the community. 

I was ready to get involved in 2009 but I was not sure which charity I should help with as I feel that children in our community need a lot of help, and I am a huge animal lover, and we all know the strife that animals face on a daily basis in Nassau. I was also afraid that I would not be able to make very much of a difference and contemplated whether or not it was worth it to get involved. I found the problems facing our community so overwhelming that I hesitated for a while. Due to a public outcry about the Government Canine Control Unit and the forming of a group called Baark! I found my direction - it’s funny how life presents itself to you isn’t it? It finally hit me - If I can change the mind of one person, and save one animal from a life of suffering, then my time was worth it. And I dove head first into the ‘Charity World’.

Being involved in charity work for the past two years has been the most rewarding experience of my life so far. It is really great to know that your time is being well spent and you can help something bigger than just you. It has also been a growing experience for me as a person. And to top it off I have met the most amazing people and formed life long friendships.

My dilemma is now that there are not enough hours in the day to do what I would like to do to help out and I wondered how I could link my career to my passion of trying to make The Bahamas a better place. I have to work to contribute towards our bills so volunteering full time is not an option for me so I have figured out the next best alternative.

I am a real estate agent. I know, I know! There are a lot of stereo-types about the ‘typical realtor’. First of all, I am certainly not any of those things. I am not a cut-throat typical sales person and I am incredibly honest. I got involved in real estate by accident when I moved back in 2005. I was offered a job as an office assistant and in 2007 I took my salesman’s license, still unsure of whether or not this would be my career. Later on in 2007 I was offered a job with Graham Real Estate to work in the office as well as assist with a development in Eleuthera. As I mentioned earlier, life presents you with a direction, I realized that being involved in real estate is something I really enjoy. My dream was to save up and buy a house. It is most people’s dream.  I appreciate different interior design styles, different architectural styles and different lifestyles.  I care about seeing other people happy and I love being able to be part of that search for the biggest decision a person is going to make. Purchasing a home is so much more. It’s finding a community that the buyer is going to fit into, a layout that fits their tastes and lifestyle needs. I am so focused on their happiness and being able to guide someone through what can sometimes be a stressful process.

So, my solution to combining my quest to make the world a better place with my career is that I will donate 10% of the commission I receive to the charity of my client’s choice selected from five options.

Each of the five charities that are selected mean a lot to me. I feel they encompass a variety of areas, from youth, to animals and people in desperate need for a helping hand.

As the Nassau market is a close knit market a lot of real estate sales or rentals are cobroked - so in the event that it is a co-broke sale or rental, my client (either seller/landlord or byer/tenant) will select the charity. If it is a direct transaction both the seller/landlord and buyer/tenant are my clients they can either decide on the same charity or split the money between two different charities.

Some commissions are small, but being the Chairman of Baark! even a $5 donation is appreciated, and I know that is the case of many charities. No donation is too small!

I am chairman of Baark! and absolutely amazed with the momentum that we have established over the past two years. Baark! has amazing, dedicated volunteers and we all have the same goal, to stop suffering for the animals of The Bahamas. 
Spay Day 2011 - Bernard Road Community Walk

In their own words: 
Baark! is a non-profit volunteer group dedicated to improving the welfare of animals at the Government run Canine Control Unit (CCU), locally known as ‘The Government Pound’. Every Friday, as many as 50 dogs and several cats are put down at the Government Pound in a futile attempt to address the problem of stray and unwanted animals in The Bahamas. We are working to improve the conditions and treatment of the animals in their care and also rescuing as many animals as possible from the weekly euthanasia.  With your help, we can shift the focus from killing suffering animals to prevention, through spay and neuter programs and public education on responsible pet ownership. Baark! works closely with Stray Busters and together we operate a TNR (trap-neuter-release) program targeting stray and roaming dogs and cats. Those picked up and needing extra medical attention or care are treated and fostered where necessary.

Hands For Hunger 
Hands for Hunger is an incredible venture that speaks for itself. So many Bahamians go hungry, young, middle aged, or older. Many children go to school with no breakfast and have no lunch to eat at school. Alanna Rogers founded Hands for Hunger, collecting food that would otherwise go to waste, and getting it to people that would have gone hungry.

In their own words:
Mission: Hands For Hunger is a humanitarian organization committed to the elimination of hunger and the reduction of food waste through the creation of meaningful and engaging partnerships formed amongst all sectors of the Bahamian community. We strive to inspire a shared sense of social and environmental responsibility amongst citizens, who, individually and collectively, come to realize the power of their own contributions. We do this by food rescue and distribution, education and other innovative solutions. Vision: Our vision is a transformed Bahamas where everyone has access to three nutritious and fortifying meals each day. No one goes hungry. The quality of our environment is enhanced.

The Bahamas Humane Society
The Bahamas Humane Society is the mother ship of smaller animal welfare groups like Baark! The team of staff and volunteers work tirelessly despite the emotional draining work they have to do day in and day out. I truly believe that the work they have done has brought Nassau a long long way in improving empathy for animals in The Bahamas. 
BHS Spay and Neuter in Exuma, Bahamas

In their own words:
Established in 1924, the Bahamas Humane Society addresses head-on the problem of stray animals and many other concerns. It is affiliated with numerous international animal welfare agencies, including Humane Society International, and it is the only organization in the Caribbean to hold membership in the Standards of Excellence Program sponsored by the American Humane Association, which it has belonged to since 1981. Though it is based in Nassau, Paradise Island, it works with sister organizations on other islands. It is the oldest charity in the Bahamas.

KPACE Kids, founded by Darcy Moss is very close to my heart. Driving to work one morning feeling sad about the future for the youth of The Bahamas I thought that the government needed to have an after school program that taught life skills and emotional development. Later that day at the office I received a call from a lady I did not know named Darcy telling our company about the after school program she is creating a model for in one school and plans to roll it out to all other government schools in the future.

In their own words:
A non profit organization dedicated to providing educational reinforcement to students in the public school system from grades 1 thru 6.

Lignum Vitae 
The Lignum Vitae Centre for Hope works with specific residents that need a helping hand. Whatever their hardship resulted from, the Centre works to get them through a rough period and to enable them to be self-sufficient in the future.

In their own words:
The Lignum Vitae Centre of Hope is a Non Profit Organization providing services to the needy residents of The Bahamas. The organization is committed to motivate individuals, through empowerment, to attain self- sufficiency. The organization is non- discriminatory and is not limited to any particular population, race, culture, political group or religion.  Our vision is a society where all citizens have access to opportunities which promote self-sufficiency.
Please support me in my quest to support these great charities! Any suggestions or input is also welcome.

Thank you, Laura

Estate Agent and Appraisal Associate at Graham Real Estate

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