United Way Real Estate Breakfast Did Well, Does Good

If you are involved in real estate, then, most likely, you were with me last Friday at United Way’s 18th Annual Real Estate and Building Industry Breakfast at the Hynes Convention Center.  The breakfast attracted close to 1,100 people in a challenging economic time.  More importantly, it raised over $3,000,000 in support of the many important community programs funded by the United Way.  This exceeded the 2010 campaign for this industry at a time when so many more families are in need.

The United Way has been a vocal supporter of the Housing First approach, which seeks to change the way homeless families and individuals are served by placing them in housing as a first step. Supportive services such as substance abuse counseling and mental health are then provided once they have obtained housing.  It is based on the premise that individuals and families are more responsive to interventions and support once they are in permanent housing.   The Real Estate breakfast has targeted this program as a priority during the last five years and has exceeded its original fundraising target.

Robert Beal Accepts Award

Honored at this breakfast with the 2011 Norman B. Leventhal /Edwin N. Sidman Real Estate and Building Industry Award was Robert Beal, President of The Beal Companies.  This honor was long overdue to a man who is not only one of the leading philanthropists in Boston, but who has dedicated so much of his time to expand contributions to the United Way’s Tocqueville Society, making our local agency’s society one of the top two in the nation.

In recognition of his commitment to underprivileged youth, the United Way created Fostering Opportunity, A Robert Beal Initiative, which will empower youth aging out of foster care.  More than 1,150 young people in Massachusetts enter a bleak future of unemployment, homelessness, and sometimes, crime when they age out of foster care at 18.  This creative initiative will empower these young people to plan and develop a career path by providing extensive caseworker support, financial literacy training, life planning skills, and mentoring.  In addition, they will be encouraged to save for their tuition and job training with matching funds.

“With Fostering Opportunity, we aim to close the door on homelessness, unemployment, and incarceration-the unfortunate obstacles facing many who age out of foster care,” said Michael K. Durkin, President of United Way of Massachusetts Bay and Merrimack Valley. “Through this program, we hope to open the door to many possibilities for young people who simply want to do better. Live better. Prosper.”

All of us attending the breakfast were very touched by the young man who spoke for the first time in front of an audience about his own life experiences in the foster care system and his drive to find a new life on his own.  It was very clear that the mentoring and support he has been receiving through Adoption and Foster Care Mentoring  has made an enormous difference in his life.

All of us in that function room have our own challenges, both personal and professional, but we are all very lucky to be able to help out those less fortunate than us with our contributions of time and money.  As a result, so many lives are being changed for the better; and where there was no hope, there is now a helping hand.

For more information on these initiatives and the important work of the United Way, please contact Brian Adams at (617) 624-8261.

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