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Dream Big!
FAR's Sixth Annual Scholarship Winners

In a competition that awarded $116,000 to 40 students across the state, four college-bound high school seniors each won a total of $10,000 from Florida’s Realtors® to help with their education.

Essay Contest Topic: “How Does a Realtor® Professional Benefit the Community?”

More than 300 entrants from around the state competed for scholarships to help fund their college expenses by each writing a 500-word essay titled “How Does a Realtor® Professional Benefit the Community?”

In the Florida Association of Realtors (FAR) 13 regional districts, essay competitions awarded 40 scholarships—first-place winners received $5,000 scholarships, second-place winners received $1,500 each and third-place winners received $500 each.

The regional first-place winners went on to compete for grand prize state-level scholarships of $5,000 each. Winning a total of $10,000 each to help fund their college expenses, here are the four state winners and excerpts from their essays:

FAR District 4
Alexandra Aldrich
2005 Graduate of Marathon High School, Marathon
College Plans: Aldrich attends Stetson University in DeLand, where she plans to major in international business and family business.

“Realtors® contribute hundreds of hours to society and connect people and families with the opportunities to flourish.”
by Alexandra Aldrich

In 1998, our family moved from Long Island, N.Y., to Marathon, Fla., and left everything we had ever known behind. We were searching in an environment that was foreign to us for the house of our dreams. My dad also needed to find a new job after selling his business, which he had owned for 17 years. It was a drastic change in our lives, and Marathon’s way of life was unknown to us. Thoughts of moving again to a place with more opportunity buzzed through my parents’ heads. We were uncertain of what the future held, and we were worried. How would we make these adjustments? Who could help us?

Without our Realtor’s initiative to find the right listing for our family, we would have never found a business that allowed my dad to provide for our family and enabled us to remain in the Keys.
Realtors provide their clients with an understanding of the options that are available to them and their families. If they are good at their jobs, they have a heightened awareness of what makes their community unique and use their extensive resources to aid clients in their search for the perfect home or business opportunity. They also supply them with knowledgeable advice to help determine the choice that is right for their circumstances. Our Realtor was there to morally support and advise us in our decisions. He supplied us with local information that made our dream of living in the Keys come true. Just by doing his job, the community received the economic gain of our family continuing an important local business, new people, and the relationships that both eventually generated. What a difference one person can make!

Realtors are more than beneficial, they are indispensable. Realtors contribute hundreds of hours to society and connect people and families with the opportunities to flourish. They have the knowledge to help their clients navigate through the sometimes murky waters of restrictions, building codes, and other legal requirements. Our communities would be in disarray without Realtors to guide us.
That was certainly the case in my family’s experience with our Realtor. He knew exactly how to provide us with the right position and location while making the transition as easy as possible. I’m not sure what would have happened to my family without him, but I know I owe a lot of wonderful childhood memories in the Keys to him and his efforts to make our dreams a reality. 

FAR District 9
Hannah Bunning
2005 Graduate of Gulf Breeze High School in Gulf Breeze
College Plans: Bunning attends the University of Florida in Gainesville, where she plans to major in telecommunications.

“Realtors® in my hometown stretched out their hands to help the victims in Mississippi and Louisiana find homes after Hurricane Katrina.”
by Hannah Bunning

My dad was in the military for 20 years so we moved around frequently. Relocating every four years can be stressful, especially if it is across the country. Realtors have always helped my family transition from one military community to another. In my opinion, communities and Realtors go hand in hand. I have watched as Realtors helped define my family and shape my communities.

Shortly after my mother and father were married, my dad was transferred to Mt. Home AFB in Idaho. This was an adjustment for my mom because she had never been away from her small town home in Georgia. My parents contacted a Realtor when they arrived at my dad’s new base, and within two days the Realtor helped them find their first apartment as a newly wed couple. Her job being complete, our Realtor could have moved on to her next clients, but instead she showed my mom around the community and introduced her to the neighbors. Our Realtor helped my young mother transition from her parents’ home to her first home as a wife.

With every moment that defines a family, there is also one that defines a community, and Realtors do so much to support families and their communities.

My family has witnessed firsthand the overwhelming kindness that Realtors possess. The military landed us in a coastal town, where our small community was battered by two devastating hurricanes in the past two years. People were so overwhelmed with despair that it was difficult to move past the initial shock. Realtors in our area were the first people to get the ball rolling. They immediately began finding homes for those who had lost everything. Realtors were also the first people to help raise money for the people most affected by the storms in my community. Their generosity was so astonishing because many of them had lost their homes as well. However, they put their own needs aside to help strengthen the community. The kindness of Realtors doesn’t stop at the borders of the communities in which they live. This was apparent when Realtors in my hometown stretched out their hands to help the victims in Mississippi and Louisiana find homes after Hurricane Katrina.

A home is the center of a family’s life. It is where young couples bring their new babies, where families gather to recover from hardships, and where the heart truly longs to return. Home is where memories are made and dreams are created. Finding the right home is a vital part of a family’s happiness, and Realtors are the lifelines to making this dream come true.

FAR District 9
Ashlee White
2005 Graduate of Pace High School in Pace
College Plans: White is enrolled at Pensacola Junior College, with plans to study natural resources conservation at the University of Florida’s Milton campus.

“Realtors® in our community have been the shoulder to lean on and the source of peace of mind on the continuous road to recovery.”
by Ashlee White

On the night of September 15, and early morning hours of September 16, 2004, Hurricane Ivan pushed ashore in the western-most section of the Florida Panhandle. The Category 3 storm ravaged the Gulf Coast, forever altering the lives and landscape of our little piece of heaven on Earth. For most students, the month missed of school was just a long break. However, my family and I spent every day trying to salvage what was left of my grandparents’ bay-front home. In the 18 months since the storm made landfall, the area as a whole has undergone tremendous change and moved forward, while for some the clock stopped on the 16th and time continues to stand still. The role of the Realtor, many victims themselves, in the community became that of a lifeline. They were called on to acquire temporary housing, accommodate the influx of businesses, and to assist people by preparing market analyses.

Unlike my grandparents, who stayed with us for 10 months, many left homeless had no family in which to turn. Realtors scrambled to locate rental and housing availabilities. The relationship between supply and demand became evident. A newly constructed house in Victorian Village, located in Gulf Breeze, sold on August 31, 2004, pre-Ivan, for $160,400 and again on July 1,2005, for $253,000, post-Ivan.[1]

As soon as the outside world could make their way in, the relief effort began. Many people came to help us get back on our feet, and once here decided to make this their new home and place of business. There were significant jumps in business licenses issued in Santa Rosa County from 176 in August, to 486 in September, and then 843 in October.[2] This contributed to the economic growth in our area. But, due to damaged or destroyed commercial properties, it definitely put a strain on the already scarce business space. Realtors exhausted all avenues in search of locations that met the business owners’ criteria.

The overwhelming stress of Ivan, insurance issues, financial obligations, and the toll taken on individuals mentally, emotionally, and physically resulted in many having to sale their property “AS IS.” The damage to properties varied from barely any to nothing more than a slab where the house once stood. Distraught homeowners called upon Realtors to give market analyses so they knew the fair market price before listing and selling.

Hurricane Ivan struck a major blow to my family. My grandparents lost their home and many irreplaceable belongings. What was left standing has since been demolished and a “For Sale” sign stands in the vacant lot. Realtors in our community have been the shoulder to lean on and the source of peace of mind on the continuous road to recovery.

Works Cited: [1]; [2]

FAR District 13
Joshua Rosenauer
2005 Graduate of Lakewood Ranch High School in Bradenton
College Plans: Rosenauer is enrolled at the University of Florida in Gainesville, where he has been accepted to the School of Engineering.

“Mr. C lives down the street and is a Realtor,® with his wife being his business partner. They have become the model for me on how Realtors can benefit a community for they have enhanced my subdivision, and on a personal level, helped my family.”
by Joshua Rosenauer

My house is more than just a physical building. It protects the things I hold dearest; my family, my dogs and my stuff. More importantly though, it’s the residence of many intangibles such as comfort, safety and my fondest memories. It’s where I’m transitioning from a child to a man. Part of what makes my house a home, besides those things on the inside, is the surrounding neighborhood in which it lies. It’s the place where I’ve met interesting people and made good friends. It’s on that street that I learned to bike. My home expands to the park I’ve biked through and played in as well as the creek around the corner that I’ve explored.

My neighbors are also an extension of my home. One couple in particular, has made a big difference in our neighborhood. Mr. C lives down the street and is a Realtor, with his wife being his business partner. They have become the model for me on how Realtors can benefit a community for they have enhanced my subdivision, and on a personal level, helped my family. They have set the example on what a good neighbor should be, by their friendly, courteous, and considerate behavior.

Additionally, Mr. and Mrs. C have also taken an interest in the neighborhood by getting involved. They regularly attend the homeowner’s meetings and participate in the discussions, giving useful suggestions to community problems and issues. They volunteer their time serving and helping at the neighborhood picnics and community events. They introduce neighbors to neighbors that may never have talked. They help unite our little area.

When my father was laid off a few years ago and was trying his hand at starting a home improvement business, Mr. and Mrs. C started recommending him for small repair jobs on houses they listed or houses their customers were buying. Those repair jobs grew into bigger projects and through time, I could tell how much the “Cs” cared about their customers. They would ask my Dad to walk through homes with prospective buyers to advise them on potential problems and to offer solutions. The “Cs” wanted their clients to be informed and prepared before making the most important decision of their lives. They know that what they do is more than just making a sale. They want their customer to be truly happy with their new home. I think it helps that their customers, many times, become their new neighbors and it says a lot that they live the “life” they are selling. They are truly leading by example.