Mass. REALTORS® Wendy and John Rocca win national volunteer award

Back in August I posted that Wendy and John Rocca, REALTORS® from Watertown, were finalists for REALTOR® Magazine’s Good Neighbor Awards.  Today, I am happy to report they are one of five WINNERS for the work they do for their charity Operation American Soldier (OAS).

This is from my original post – As the founders of Operation American Soldier , the Roccas have taken the concept of being a good neighbor to thousands of men and women serving in the military overseas.  OAS sends “cheer packages” and letters of support to soldiers who would otherwise most likely leave mail call empty handed.

CONGRATULATIONS for winning the award and making a difference for our U.S. service men and women throughout the world!!!

(Just added this video on 11/23/2010)

Read the release below:

Wendy and John Rocca receive MAR 2009 Good Neighbor Award

Realtors® from Watertown, Mass., Win National Volunteer Award for Sending Care Packages to Soldiers Overseas

CHICAGO (October 27, 2010) – Realtors® Wendy and John Rocca, sales associates with Century 21 Commonwealth, in Watertown, Mass., are one of five winners chosen by the National Association of Realtors® as REALTOR® Magazine’s 2010 Good Neighbor Award winners. The wife-husband team was selected for founding Operation American Soldier, a charity that sends care packages to soldiers stationed overseas.

“This year’s Good Neighbor Award winners are extraordinary examples of how Realtors® value service and are committed to improving communities,” said NAR President Vicki L. Cox Golder, owner of Vicki L. Cox & Associates in Tucson, Ariz. “Despite a troubling economy and an uncertain market, these Realtors® are volunteering their time and putting others before themselves. I am proud to honor these professionals.”

Operation American Soldier began in 2003 when the Roccas sent a care package to their daughter, Tracy, a sergeant with the Army National Guard, who was stationed in Kuwait and then Iraq for a 1-year tour. Now the Roccas send packages and letters of support to soldiers who otherwise would receive nothing at mail call. More than 30,000 pounds have been sent overseas, filled with snacks, beverages, books, magazines and other items. Each box also contains a letter asking if the soldier knows of anyone else who is not receiving support from home who would appreciate a package.

“When we asked Tracy what we could send to her, we were shocked by what she told us,” said John, an Army veteran who’s now a Realtor® and a police field training officer for the Department of Veterans Affairs. “Supplies at the Army store were limited and soldiers were waiting in line for up to eight hours in blistering heat.”

While stationed overseas, Tracy passed along the names of soldiers in her unit who had not received any mail. The Roccas spent $15,000 of their own money to buy supplies and ship boxes to other soldiers. “We send the majority of packages to Iraq and Afghanistan, but we’ve also sent them to Cuba, Italy, anywhere,” said Wendy. “We’re trying to serve as many soldiers as we can. This is the very least we can do for them considering all they’re doing for us.”

After assembling packages in their home, the Roccas were offered space a storage unit at the local Marine Corps headquarters. Volunteers donate money and supplies for packages, as well as help stuff as many as 100 boxes per month and write personal letters to soldiers. The Roccas also secured corporate donors, including CVS pharmacy, which supplies snacks and toiletries, and Dunkin’ Donuts, which provides coffee.

Michael Munger, a former Marine who was stationed in Kosovo as the commander of the United Nations Special Operations Command, remembers when fellow soldiers received packages from Operation American Soldier. “Every time a soldier gets a package, it’s shared with everyone,” said Munger. “The personal letter that’s included in powerful. You fold the letter and stick it in your pocket and it just hits you – someone cares about you.”

The Roccas and the other four Good Neighbor Award winners will each receive a $10,000 grant for their charity, a $2,000 Lowe’s gift card and will be profiled in the November-December issue of REALTOR®  Magazine. The recipients will receive their awards on Saturday, November 6 at the 2010 REALTORS® Conference & Expo in New Orleans.

“The Good Neighbor Awards is an opportunity for NAR to honor those Realtors® who are leaders in their community, dedicating time and energy to helping those in need,” said REALTOR®Magazine’s publisher Frank Sibley. “These winners should know they have played a crucial role in the lives of others and are a remarkable inspiration.”
Celebrating its 11th year, the Good Neighbor Awards has been awarded annually since 2000 and is presented by NAR’s REALTOR® Magazine. The Good Neighbor Awards is sponsored by Lowe’s and HouseLogic.

Nominees were judged on their personal contribution of time, as well as financial and material contributions to their cause. To be eligible, nominees had to be NAR members in good standing.     More information about the Good Neighbor Awards winners is available at www.realtor.org/realtormag.

Lowe’s (www.lowes.com) has worked with customers to maintain and improve their homes since 1946. Lowe’s is proud to support the Good Neighbor Awards.  Lowe’s is a proud supporter of Habitat for Humanity International, American Red Cross, SkillsUSA/SkillsCanada, and The Nature Conservancy, in addition to numerous nonprofit organizations and programs that help communities in North America. In 2009, Lowe’s and the Lowe’s Charitable and Educational Foundation together contributed more than $30 million to support community and education projects in North America. Lowe’s also encourages volunteerism through the Lowe’s Heroes program, a company-wide employee volunteer initiative. Lowe’s, a proud partner in NAR’s REALTOR Benefits® Program, brings Realtors® exclusive benefits to help build relationships with their customers, generate referrals and expand their client base.  The benefits program is featured on www.LowesRealtorBenefits.com.

HouseLogic, (www.houselogic.com), is a free source of information and tools for homeowners from the National Association of Realtors® that helps homeowners make smart decisions about all aspects of their home. HouseLogic helps homeowners plan and organize their home projects and provides timely articles and news; home improvement advice and how-to’s; and information about taxes, home finances and insurance.

The National Association of Realtors®, “The Voice for Real Estate,” is America’s largest trade association, representing 1.1 million members involved in all aspects of the residential and commercial real estate industries.

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Information about NAR is available at www.realtor.org. This and other news releases are posted in the Web site’s “News Media” section in the NAR Media Center.