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Presidents who lead with heart, and those who inspired them!

SPAAR - 02/12/2024

Realtors® and real estate industry professionals are known for leading with heart. It’s evident across the country as Realtors® are chosen for the annual Good Neighbor awards, and it’s evident in every community just by seeing who shows up at area events.

According to the 2022 CARE Report by the National Association of REALTORS® Research Group, 66 percent of Realtors® volunteered on a monthly basis; including 73 percent who volunteer in their communities and 19 percent who volunteer for a Realtor® Association.

Shining a spotlight on SPAAR, the 2024 presidents representing the Saint Paul Area Association of REALTORS®, REALTORS® Charitable Foundation and Toys for Joy have been asked about leading with heart and who, from within their own spheres, has inspired them. Here’s what they had to say:

“There are many great leaders like Abraham Lincoln or Martin Luther King, Jr; however, for me it’s my friend and former business partner, Larry Gunter, who I have always admired,” said Bill Schwietz, 2024 President of REALTORS® Charitable Foundation. “He had a way of connecting with people and making everyone feel welcomed. He led with kindness and decency, and always with a smile.”

For 2024 SPAAR President Amy Peterson, Maya Angelou is someone known for leading with heart. “She faced so much adversity and used it to fuel her interests and passions as part of her lifelong-learning journey,” said Amy. “Maya Angelou’s positive attitude, thoughtful writing and giving spirit, despite many challenges, are admirable.”

For Mike Hunstad, President of Toys for Joy, his Great Grandfather Melland’s legacy made an impact despite the fact he had passed away just months before Mike was born. “I grew up hearing so many stories about all he did for his community of Jamestown, North Dakota, and his dedication inspired me to give back to my own community.”

Giving back started early for Amy, Bill and Mike.

Mike said his first-ever volunteer role was assisting teachers at bible camp in third grade. Today, he’s instrumental in Toys for Joy, and looks forward to 2024 as Toys for Joy will offer eight student scholarships; provide toys/gifts to three Anoka County Food Shelves that will, in turn, provide birthday options to the recipients’ children; and sponsor a bike safety week in each Anoka County municipality, providing new 20” boy and girl bikes as giveaway prizes to attendees.

Bill’s volunteer start was organizing a student-led, used-book exchange at the University of Minnesota. Since then, he’s led in many capacities and as the 2024 REALTORS® Charitable Foundation president, he’s looking forward to finding a way that SPAAR members and the Foundation can assist and support struggling homeowners.

“There’s so much work to do in the areas of equitable and sustainable homeownership,” Bill said.

Amy looks forward to meeting more of SPAAR’s members in 2024 and sharing more about the activities and events happening at SPAAR that will support their business success in real estate.

Amy’s own business success started decades ago in the form of volunteering by helping Brownies and Girl Scouts with various badge projects; teaching Sunday school; and performing for and conversing with nursing home residents.

With lifelong volunteering at their core, SPAAR, REALTORS® Charitable Foundation and Toys for Joy are each bound to have a successful year in 2024 with Amy, Bill and Mike at the helm of their respective groups working in tandem with SPAAR members and other volunteers as they collectively lead with heart.

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