Community service is a crucial part of the real estate world.  Beyond the obvious relationship between community engagement and real estate values, or the networking benefits to involvement in local organizations, a dedication to serve is an important component of the success of a company.

The owners and agents at EWR met last year to talk about strengthening the culture of service in the company.  Elfant Wissahickon has a long history of community involvement - the four owners of the company have served on professional and non-profit boards for organizations all over the city.  In November of 2011, the company sponsored the Northwest Philadelphia Interfaith Hospitality Network’s “Empty Bowl Dinner” at Chestnut Hill College.  25 agents volunteered their time picking up soup, staffing raffle tables and selling tickets for NPIHN’s major fundraising event.
The night was so successful that the company committed to sponsoring a community event each season.  The volunteer response was so strong that for 2012, they decided to reinforce the expectation of volunteerism for their agents by instituting a series of goals for community service company-wide.

Elfant Wissahickon Realtors has committed to volunteering 2000 hours and donating $20,000 to community non-profits this year.  Each agent is choosing at least one organization close to their heart and their individual community to partner with.  “With agents’ direct participation and the backing of the company, we’re able to contribute to many more groups and in many more of the neighborhoods we serve,” explains Asher Kahn, sales manager of the company’s Rittenhouse Square office.  A few agents and staff have formed a “Building Community” committee to serve as ambassadors and cheerleaders and to help coordinate volunteer efforts.  Recently the committee helped solicit contributions and volunteer hours for a day of service at JS Jenks, Chestnut Hill’s local elementary school.  EWR agents helped clean up the school, collect donations for a local homeless shelter, and read to students.

“That one was really fun . . . I wonder sometimes who gets more reward for the things we do in reaching out to others,” says Bob Elfant, President of Elfant Wissahickon Realtors and recipient of the 2011 Freedom Heritage Award from the Cliveden National Trust.  “Business isn’t always just business. Reaching outside of one’s own self-interest to do for someone else feeds your soul.”

Each volunteer opportunity encourages another volunteer opportunity.  The company co-hosted a Community Reception for “Building in the Light,” a campaign for a new meetinghouse for the Chestnut Hill Friends that will incorporate a Skyspace by world-renowned artist James Turrell.  This is an exciting project that will “invigorate the economic, spiritual, artistic and community life of northwest Philadelphia,” promises the advisors of the project.  “It’s another avenue,” says Paul Walsh, Managing Partner, “for us to participate in something bigger than ourselves.  Anything that can improve life in our neighborhoods is good for business.  And responsible, locally owned and operated businesses are good for the community.”

For more information about Building Community projects or to find out how to become involved yourself, visit elfantwissahickon.com/blog <http://elfantwissahickon.com/blog> .