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Edmonton REALTORS® Charitable Foundation

The EREB has a long tradition of community service. Before 1987 the Executive Committee had handled requests for donations individually. In 1987, however, the Edmonton Realtors' Charitable Foundation was created.

Now the Charitable Foundation has its own board of governors and committee system to plan specific directions for donations to charities, primarily shelter-related projects.

The Foundation went into operation in 1989 following receipt of its registration number from Revenue Canada. The first chairman was Gary Comrie. Gary began his real estate career in 1967 as a salesman with Canada Permanent Trust Co. For six years he managed its first residential sales office. He then opened an office for Ashford Realty, a division of NuWest Homes. After four years there, he opened his own firm of Comrie-Coughlan Real Estate in 1978. He has served as chairman of the Membership Committee and as a director of the Edmonton Real Estate Board. He was made a Life Member of the Board in 1987.

Interest on Board investments since 1986 was allocated as seed money. The objective was to create a $1 million capital fund. To ensure that such an amount would be accumulated, 75 percent was retained as capital reserves while 25 percent was to be donated. Raising additional funds and accepting donations was expected.

In 1990, a Donor Wall was built to recognize members who have contributed to the Foundation. Engraved brass name plates are used to honour donors who have contributed $100 or more. The Donor Wall also includes donations that have been made in memoriam of others.

The first major fundraiser was a silent auction at the December 13, 1991, Christmas Luncheon. The event was a great success. Over 108 items along with cash donations were received. Net proceeds to the Foundation were $14,147.00, well exceeding the goal of $10,000.

A second fundraiser was a five-kilometre Classic Run on August 29, 1993. A three-kilometre Fun Walk, half-kilometre Tots Toddle/Pedal, Mascot Race, and a Corporate Challenge have been added. The events were organized in association with the Running Room. The event was repeated in 1994 and 1995.

The Edmonton Realtors' Charitable Foundation has made donations to the United Way, Catholic Services, Marion Centre, Bissell Centre, and the Edmonton Christmas Bureau. Commitments have also been made to the Youth Emergency Shelter Society and Grant MacEwan College, Senior Studies Institute.

Projects in 1992 included a contribution towards the purchase of a lot in the Norwood community to build a home for a needy inner-city family. The official sod-turning for the building of the first Habitat for Humanity home in Edmonton took place on Tuesday, May 26, 1992. In 1993 the Foundation provided funds for the construction of a second home.

At the initiative of the Farms and Acreages Committee, the Edmonton Real Estate Board created a working partnership with the Rural Crime Watch Program. Since sales staff travel widely, they can assist in being the "eyes and ears" of the community and report any suspicious activity to the police.

The Board also sponsored the "Parents against Drug Abuse Program" begun by radio station 1260 and FM 100.3. The "Guide to Fight Substance Abuse" gives valuable information to parents, families, or anyone with a substance abuse problem. The Board distributed 33,000 copies through the Real Estate Weekly in March 1992.

The Edmonton Real Estate Board adjusted to the new realities ushered in by the 1982 recession. It is a leader in applying technology to the real estate industry. This is particularly evident in the new computer system. It has also made some fundamental changes to its organization. The Board has reduced the number of standing committees and the two-tier structure of the membership, making agents and sales representatives more equal. The Board has also played a major role in bringing about the self-regulation of the industry through the creation of the Real Estate Council of Alberta. The Board has thus found a new and innovative way of achieving the original goal as stated in 1909 and again in 1927 of maintaining high ethical standards

This article is extracted from John Gilpin, Responsible Enterprise: A History of Edmonton Real Estate & the Edmonton Real Estate Board. (Edmonton: Edmonton Real Estate Board, 1997). The Heritage Community Foundation and the Alberta Real Estate Foundation would like to thank John Gilpin and the REALTORS® Association of Edmonton for permission to reproduce this material.

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