Hundreds of real estate professionals from towns and cities across the country convened at the Grand Wailea Resort March 5 through 8 for the annual President’s Circle Conference hosted by the National Association of Realtors’ Realtors Political Action Committee.
This year, conference attendees packed a little something extra in their suitcases: backpacks filled with school supplies for students on Maui, Lānaʻi and Molokaʻi.
The idea to collect the school supplies was conceived by Idaho Association of Realtors President Connie Fogle after she learned about the Wishing Well for Maui Students program. Since its inception 10 years ago, the Wishing Well program has collected furniture, school supplies and other items with the goal of improving the educational experiences and opportunities for Maui County’s public school students.
Run entirely by volunteer Realtors Association of Maui members, organizers say the nonprofit organization has contributed more than $1.5 million in goods, services and cash donations to every school in Maui County.
RAM member and Wishing Well founder Sarah Sorenson was one of five recipients of Realtor Magazine’s 2016 Good Neighbor Awards. The awards program honors NAR members across the nation who have made a difference in their communities through volunteer work; Sorenson was the first winner from Hawaiʻi.
Fogle, who was in attendance when Sorenson accepted her Good Neighbor award at a convention in November, successfully rallied support for the Wishing Well program through the President’s Circle Conference. It didn’t take much convincing: Conference attendees donated 133 backpacks filled with $18,000 worth of school supplies—running the gamut from pencils and pink pearl erasers to playground balls and scientific calculators—along with $2,700 in cash and gift cards.
These contributions will go a long way for Maui County students, said Sorenson, who was surprised to learn that the Wishing Well program had been chosen as a beneficiary. “I was shocked,” she said. “I was very honored when I realized this was the first time they’d reached out to a nonprofit.”
Since 1969, the RPAC has promoted the election of pro-Realtor candidates across the US through voluntary contributions made by Realtors. RPAC enables Realtors to support candidates that support the issues that are important to their profession and livelihood. The annual RPAC President’s Circle Conference is intended to provide President’s Circle investors with the opportunity to learn and discuss policy concerns affecting the real estate community.
The Wishing Well program accepts donations year-round. Sorenson said many teachers have requested items that would help them in their classrooms, like office chairs, flat screen televisions, bookcases, gardening tools for school gardens, file cabinets, chairs, carpeting or clean area rugs so students can gather for learning or quiet time.
Organizers say that if anyone is looking to offload any new or gently used household or office items or would like to purchase school supplies for the program, they can call Sorenson at (808) 283-3969. For more information about the Wishing Well for Maui Students program visit them online at www.ILoveMauiSchools.com.