Finding the Why in What You Do
Wendy Kedzierski
October 4, 2022 — Read in 6.8 mins · 1365 words

“Agents inspiring agents to make this world a better place.” — Eddie Berenbaum, President, CENTURY 21 Redwood Realty

In 2002 three guys united with a shared belief that selling real estate should be a conduit for improving the lives of people in our communities. Now with a dozen + offices across Virginia, Maryland and Washington, D.C., CENTURY 21 Redwood Realty has seen many changes over the years, but our commitment to being a force for good remains at our core. 

“Our agents were doing so many charitable things individually or with their offices and there was a desire to do more,” says Nick Pasquini, Redwood Co-Founder and Chief Financial Officer.  “By adding company support and structure to what we were already doing made perfect sense.”

In 2015, Redwood formally recognized this “community-centric” vision by creating its philanthropic arm, naming it Redwood Gives Back.

We sell homes. We do good.

Our agents have a deep understanding of — and commitment to — the needs of our local communities. Every year they support the causes that strengthen their communities through Redwood Gives Back, helping a wide range of people in need and fulfilling our mission of making the world a better place. 

“We believe in leading by example and partnering with our communities,” says Nick. “The members of the communities we serve trust us to help them when they buy and sell their homes and therefore we feel it is only right to give back in a positive way.”

Agent involvement

Each of Redwood’s 12 regional offices has an “Ambassador” who spearheads the Redwood Gives Back initiatives. Stacy Allwein is the Ambassador for the Frederick, Md. office.

“It was a natural fit for me,” says Stacy. “Volunteering and giving back to the community has always been part of who I am, so once I learned about Redwood Gives Back, I became energized and couldn’t wait to get started.”

Stacy’s office has held fundraisers for Platoon 22 (Veteran suicide prevention), SHIP (student homelessness), Toys for Tots, The Alzheimer’s Association, The Phoenix Academy (a recovery high school) and Andrea’s House (women’s transitional living/sober living nonprofit).

Stacy also gets her family involved. “Last year when we did Toys for Tots, I took my young granddaughters shopping for toys. They loved it and one of them was at the office when the Marines picked up so she was able to help load the truck.”

Brett Nickley is a licensed REALTOR® with CENTURY 21 Redwood Realty in Arlington, Va. and recently participated in a fundraiser for the Doorways HomeStart Program which provides next-step housing and longer-term support to individuals and families leaving emergency shelters. 

“Doorways holds a special place in the heart of Sandy Rosengarden (Arlington’s EVP/managing broker) and me. It was our first major charitable initiative in our roles at the office. Being able to present the goods and funds to someone who works on the frontlines of this organization was really special!”

Brett sees corporate social responsibility as increasing in importance as he believes the wealth disparity continues to widen in this country and the world.  

“I think it is imperative that for-profit companies do their part in giving back to the less fortunate around the world, who, in many cases, are the cornerstones of their success,” says Brett. “In Redwood’s case, housing is the perfect social issue to focus on, as we provide homes to the more fortunate on a daily basis. It only seems equitable to be able to give back to those who cannot afford housing as well.

“One of our favorite parts of this particular program is that they’ll even provide accommodations for the pets of these individuals! Here in the Arlington office, we collected both home goods and gift cards and raised over $2,000.”

Other initiatives that Brett has personally been involved in include a Toys for Tots drive with Shawn Battle and The Battle Group raising over $4,000 in toys during the holidays, and Women Giving Back, a 501c3 that supports women and children in crisis by providing quality clothing at no cost. Brett says that Women Giving Back is the charity that Arlington’s Redwood Gives Back ambassador Karen Sparks is most invested in. “She has volunteered hundreds of hours and worked with our office to raise over $2,000 for the charity.”

Like Stacy, Brett has gotten his family in on the Redwood Gives Back fun. “I really enjoyed going to Shawn’s house for the Toys for Tots drive with my family. My 3-year-old daughter helped pick out a couple toys to donate, which is a very tough concept at that age!”

The pulse of our company

“Redwood Gives Back has become the pulse of our company,” says Nick. “We incorporate it in our business plan and key events, and budget accordingly. It started as something we aspired to be able to do and it is now woven into the fabric of our company. It’s wonderful to see how it brings so many agents and employees together. The contributions made in the spirit of giving connect us all as we do our part to make the world a better place.”

Not only does Nick see the impact on Redwood’s agents and employees, he witnessed the power of Redwood’s philanthropy first hand on a trip to Haiti which he says was “life changing for everyone involved.”

After 2016’s Hurricane Matthew decimated 4,000 homes in Haiti, Redwood Gives Back partnered with New Story to build simple concrete block homes with basic sanitation, running water and electricity. 

“I look back on those pictures and the video and see the coming together of friends, family and business associates for something really special,” says Nick. “We made a tremendous impact to these families by giving them a home. Thinking about the cause, the great memories and reminiscing with the pictures brings more joy than any award we’ve ever received.”

Doing well by doing good

Corporate Social Responsibility not only impacts the society we live in, it can also be part of a business strategy for success. According to a 2015 Nielsen survey, 66 percent of online consumers said they would pay more for products or services from companies that are socially and environmentally responsible.

“We are very proud to have two of the top three Redwood Gives Back donors of 2020 in our Arlington office, Gary Hughes and Diane Schline,” says Brett. “We often talk about the ‘why’ when discussing business plans, and I know giving back plays a big part of it for many of our agents. Neither Gary nor Diane are the type to consistently remind their clients of how much they donate to Redwood Gives Back, but instead, I think it is representative of who they are as individuals, and plays into how they run their business and treat others. We also have seen Redwood Gives Back utilized as a great way to connect with past clients, and contribute to the greater good.”

Stacy Allwein believes that sharing stories with clients is important. “I like to share my story with customers and part of that is Redwood Gives Back. I usually tell them that I’m proud to work for Redwood, which has this program that supports volunteerism. Just this past year, I specifically won a listing because of my involvement with the Alzheimer’s Association and Redwood Gives Back.”

“It’s difficult to put your finger on exactly what it does for our consumers,” says Nick, “but we’ve definitely felt appreciation over the years for the work that we’ve done. We know that the secret about giving is that you receive more than you give, so with that said even though we can’t calculate it, there is no doubt it has a positive impact on our business.”

What’s next?

“I’d like to see Redwood Gives Back get even bigger and better,” Nick says. “We’ve done amazing things so far and there is so much more to do. As we establish ourselves in our communities more and more, the sky’s the limit in what we can accomplish.” 

Contact us to learn more about Redwood and how you can get involved with Redwood Gives Back.

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