7801 Deercreek Club Rd., Jacksonville, FL 32256
More than 50 NEFAR members supported Rethreaded's efforts to assist sex-trafficking survivors by taking part in a special 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.’”
The Rethreaded event was the second charitable 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.
Elizabeth Wells, a REALTOR® with Engel & Volkers Jacksonville, agreed that it is “vitally important” for REALTORS® to give back to their community. Assisting nonprofits like Rethreaded is especially worthwhile due to the assistance it renders to vulnerable men and women, she said. “Human trafficking is a rampant problem, not only domestically but also internationally,” said Wells, who has spent time living overseas. “I’ve lived abroad where I’ve seen it first-hand, and it has hit my family, so I have seen it personally. REALTORS® need to get involved. We are here. We have the luxury of managing our own time. Not many people have that advantage if they are working 9 to 5. Why not carve out a couple of hours from your day for the betterment of other people? Every time I do something like this, I am the better for it. At least that is how I feel.”
Theresa Cassel, a REALTOR® with The Legends of Real Estate, said her ears “perked up” when she realized NEFAR was offering her an opportunity to learn more about Rethreaded. “I’d heard about Rethreaded for quite a while, and it perked my ears because they have such a passion for their process,” she said. “This event is fabulous. I love to sew, so I thought I would participate. Coming today, I’m very impressed. Any time NEFAR REALTORS® can participate and be involved in something like this, it’s great.”
Having the opportunity for companionship with other NEFAR members made the day special, said Sarah DeVaney of Keller Williams Atlantic Partners Southside. “I am very grateful for the chance of some camaraderie with my fellow REALTORS®. I’ve met several that I didn’t know before and have enjoyed getting to know them. I am also grateful for the opportunity to give back to Rethreaded. This is my first Community Affairs event, and now I want to do more,” 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.
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