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More than 50 members of the Northeast Florida Association of REALTORS® (NEFAR) supported Rethreaded's efforts to assist sex-trafficking survivors by taking part in a special NEFAR Community Affairs Task Force event May 5.

The members of the REALTOR® association toured the nonprofit’s new Springfield facility, the Delores Barr Weaver Campus of Hope, and learned about the important ways Rethreaded helps women get back into society through business before spending several hours deconstructing leather airline seats donated to the nonprofit by Southwest Airlines. Leather from the seats will be used by the women to make wallets, purses, and other items to sell in their gift shop.

“It makes me feel good to see my brother and sister REALTORS® out here working together for a great cause,” said Jay Wike of Momentum Realty. “I am highly impressed with the Rethreaded organization and how they are using business to better people victimized by this terrible thing, sex trafficking. I am a father – I have a daughter – and I like working with my hands. When I saw this event offered through NEFAR, I grabbed it. I said to myself, ‘This is something I’ve got to do.’”

NEFAR serves as the voice of real estate for the region. As the largest professional association in Northeast Florida, it represents more than 11,000 members who work in all facets of the real estate industry including residential and commercial sales and property management.

Rethreaded is a nonprofit organization that makes and sells handmade leather goods and accessories so that victims of human trafficking can have a second chance at life through viable employment. Its mission is to renew hope, reignite dreams, and release potential for survivors of sex trafficking both locally and globally through business. The women it serves are given employment opportunities in different facets of the company including production, inventory, sales, marketing and finance and administration.

The Rethreaded event was the second chartable event of the year hosted by NEFAR’s Community Affairs Task Force. In March, a large group of REALTORS® showed off their ability to be a “Good Neighbor” to those in the community when they built two permanent wheelchair ramps for an amputee and his disabled wife, enabling the couple to gain access to their Southside home.

Headed by Chairman Christina Welch and Vice Chairman Margarita Cavanagh, NEFAR’s Community Affairs Task Force has two more charitable events planned for this year. On July 23, NEFAR will host a massive river and beach clean-up event to coincide with Florida Realtor’s month-long Clean-Up Florida Waters initiative. And later in the year the task force expects to organize a large food drive to help combat food insecurity in Northeast Florida by assisting community food pantries within the region.

The Rethreaded event was an eye-opener for many of the NEFAR members who took part in the event. “I like to give back to the community, and I thought it would be fun to take part in a little day project like this. Until I got here, I didn’t realize how prevalent sex trafficking was in Florida,” said Kyle Axenheld of Watson Mortgage Corp.

Axenheld said he was surprised to learn that Florida is third in the nation in human trafficking and that Duval County is the third county in Florida with the largest problem. “You often see news reels of times in the city when they arrest people for sex trafficking, but I never realized how they punish these women for things they are doing that are not their choice. Rethreaded is a great resource for these women to permanently get out of the binds of human trafficking.”

Shelly Sharp, a REALTOR® with Watson Realty, was also surprised to learn the extent of the problem. “I’ve lived here for over 40 years, and I never knew anything about sex trafficking,” she said. “There are so many questions I want to ask. I feel like I have lived a very sheltered life. It’s mind-boggling.” Sharp also said she was grateful for the opportunity through NEFAR to be able to give back to her community. “The community has given so much to us, it is only right that we, as REALTORS®, should be able to give back,” she said.

Rethreaded CEO Kristin Keen said she appreciated having NEFAR members spend a whole day volunteering on her new campus. “We love it when people use our business for good,” she said. “We are so grateful when volunteers come and use their time to deconstruct leather seats because those seats become products that our women can make and then we sell those products. We change lives through this process.” Keen said she is especially grateful to NEFAR for all the ways its REALTORS® have supported her nonprofit over the years. “REALTORS® often purchase closing gifts from us. NEFAR has raised funds for us. We are very thankful. Those are all good things – they get advocate status!” she said.




The Northeast Florida Association of Realtors (NEFAR,) serves as the voice of real estate in Northeast Florida. It is the region’s largest professional association, representing more than 11,000 members who work in all facets of the real estate industry including residential and commercial sales and property management. It serves the public through support of community affairs programs and seeks to protect private property rights. The region's multiple listing service, realMLS, is a wholly owned subsidiary of NEFAR. NEFAR is headquartered in Jacksonville, with satellite Service Centers in Orange Park, Jacksonville Beach, Palatka, and World Golf Village.