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Clary wins Good Neighbor Award
By Mike Bollinger Editor South Hill Enterprise
The NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS® has recognized what students in Mecklenburg County have know for quite some time, that Jean Clary CARES about children.
Clary, owner of CENTURY 21 Clary and Associates, was awarded with one of five Good Neighbor Awards by the NAR at a ceremony in Chicago, Ill. in November. According to the NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS®, the awards honor members who are making exceptional contributions to improve the quality of life in their communities. Winners were selected based on the depth and impact of their contribution, the broadness of their support and their demonstrated leadership and initiative. Each winner received a $5,000 grant for their cause.
CARES, Children Are Really Extra Special, was formed in 1991 by Clary and Elizabeth Johnson, at the time the industrial development director for Greensville County, on a train headed to New York City. By the time they arrived there, they had come up with a proposal to encourage local industry to help students. A few hours later, they sold the idea to the chief executive officer of a company with two plants in Greensville. He wrote them a $5,000 check on the spot and promised another $10,000, and CARES was born.
Seven years ago, she brought the program to Mecklenburg and was instrumental in the formation of the Mecklenburg County Business-Education Partnership.
Currently, all of the approximately 2,300 students in the Greensville County schools have corporate sponsorship and approximately 1,650 of Mecklenburg's around 4,800 students have sponsors.
CENTURY 21 Clary and Associates has two adopted classes, consisting of third graders at Greensville County Elementary School in Emporia and 87 sixth graders at Park View Middle School, who were adopted by the firm when in kindergarten at South Hill Primary School.
These students, upon graduation will have one year of their college education paid for at Southside Virginia Community College.
Funds which are raised are being deposited in the Virginia College Dream Fund. Fund raisers have been held for CARES, and CENTURY 21 Clary and Associates agents contribute a portion of their commissions to the project. The grant from the Good Neighbor Award was also deposited in the Dream Fund.
A corporate executive with CENTURY 21, Charlie Mallory, told Clary last spring that he intended to nominate her for the award, a notion she quickly dismissed.
"Oh, Charlie, I don't have time for all that," Clary told him at the time.
Clary said hundreds of REALTOR® nationwide are nominated, and she believed sh had little chance until she received a phone call in August.
"When they called me and told me, I just cried," she said.
Once she knew she had won, she could not tell anyone. When a film crew was sent to the area to shoot a video with Clary and some of the children, she could only say that she was in the top 10 and that all of the top 10 were being filmed.
Twenty children each from South Hill and Emporia participated in the filming.
"That was really neat, they are all our kids. They talked to each other and discussed where we had taken each group. The video was shown at the awards ceremony," Clary said.
Clary said she has shared the message of CARES with other REALTORS® and urged them to become involved with children. In addition, she has been awarded with a community service award by the National Association of Women Business Owners.
As part of the program, the CENTURY 21 Clary and Associates staff has exposed the children to many things they may not have been exposed to otherwise. They have been helped to open a savings account, seen a ballet and a symphony, been to the State Fair, seen "A Christmas Carol" at the Landmark Theater in Richmond, and have been treated to school parties and other activities too numerous to mention.
"When I have a bad day, I go to school and have lunch with these children and I immediately feel better, " Clary said. "They are part of our life now."
Besides Clary, the other four winners were from Colorado, Missouri, Pennsylvania and Texas.
More information about the winners of the Good Neighbor Award can be found at the following website. Good Neighbor Awards 2001Back to our "In The Community" page.
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