It has been an unyielding year as the coronavirus, a record number of natural disasters, economic distress and political upheaval have pushed everyone to the edge. While some people’s most harrowing issue this year has been adjusting to remote work and school schedules, the most vulnerable people in our communities have borne the brunt of the coronavirus fallout as social services are spread thin.
With that in mind, Sotheby’s International Realty joined forces with fitness company Barry’s to raise $31,000 for World Central Kitchen to provide meals for millions of people worldwide facing food insecurity. Established by famed chef José Andrés ten years ago, World Central Kitchen has gone into overdrive this year with its COVID-19 and disaster relief efforts.
“In September, The New York Times Magazine published a powerful photo essay on food insecurity,” Sotheby’s International Realty Chief Marketing Officer Brad Nelson told Inman. “As a child, I was always taught that to whom much is given, much is expected.”
“While we all contribute to causes that are important to us via monetary donations, there is something special that happens when we come together to give back,” Nelson added. “I have fond memories of 5K races, not only because of the positive impact that the races generated but also coming together as a team [to] make a difference.”
He continued, “So, the challenge was how could we raise funds for the food crisis and how could we create a shared experience.”
The solution? A virtual spin boot camp held Wednesday via Zoom. Barry’s fitness instructors hosted a high-intensity interval training workout for hundreds of Sotheby’s agents and brokers who donated to World Central Kitchen’s emergency food relief fund. In total, Sotheby’s agents raised $16,000, with the brokerage contributing another $15,000 through its matching program.
Sotheby’s International Realty California Coastal Living Real Estate agent Robin Walpert participated in the boot camp and told Inman World Central Kitchen was the perfect organization to support this year because of its global reach.
“One of the main reasons I’m with a company like Sotheby’s International Realty is because it has a global perspective, and it’s not a one-stop-shop where we sell a house and we move along,” Walpert said. “We’re really involved with the community, and the growth and the ebb and flow of our communities and homes.”
“[Partnering with WCK] makes it feel more global in a time where I think everybody is really looking for a smile and some help,” she added. “To have supported this cause and touched my toes with Barry’s and sweat for the first time since COVID was pretty great.”
Sotheby’s International Realty East Side Manhattan associate broker Vannessa Kaufman said her office hosts several charitable events each year, including coat drives and toy giveaways. However, she, much like Walpert, felt donating to an international food relief organization was the best fundraising choice for this year.
“Every year my brokerage does something for the holidays,” Kaufman told Inman. “But again, I think this is probably one of the best and most important [organizations to support],” adding that “José Andrés does such a fantastic job of distributing the food. It was an honor to participate.”
Meanwhile, Deirdre O’Connell, CEO of Daniel Gale Sotheby’s International Realty, said giving back has been an integral part of her team, who helped clean and organize warehouses in the Bahamas in the wake of Hurricane Dorian.
O’Connell said her team visited the island to celebrate a standout year, but couldn’t leave without giving back to the Bahamian people.
“So one of the days we worked in one of their warehouses, organizing donations, organizing some clothing and you know what, that made it all the more special,” she added. “Yes, we’re celebrating our success, but we still made time to give back.”
O’Connell said philanthropic work should be part of every agent’s and brokerage’s goals, as it builds community and enriches company culture.
“I think that we all work really hard,” she said. “The Sotheby’s International Realty brand means quality, it means a global network and all those important things, but it also means people.”
“Our real strength is the strength of our people, and the fact that our people not only are the most professional and the biggest, but we are also the most committed to our communities and to each other,” she added. “That’s the game-changer.”