Giving back is what the holidays are all about!

With the holidays almost upon us, I've had a chance to step back and reflect on my experiences as President of The Canadian Real Estate Association (CREA). It has been a whirlwind year, not just for me personally, but for the REALTOR® community and country at large. And if one thing has been driven home again, it is the importance of giving back.

Like many of you, the holidays are the time for me and my team in Smiths Falls and Perth to reconnect with our clients – current and past – and thank them for their business. Why do we do this? Well Christmas is my favourite time of the year - it's traditionally a time for giving and it feels great! In fact, science shows that good deeds lead to good feelings (Aknin et al, 2013).

This year, instead of going through everything we've accomplished nationally on behalf of REALTORS® (which you can do on your own by checking out past editions of NEWS2Me), I've put together a list of some of the ways you can give back, feel good AND start the new year off on a generous foot.

1/ Donate money or time to a charity or cause close to your heart.

My team, like many of you, volunteers for and contributes financially to local charities during this special time of the year. Did you know the Canadian REALTOR® community reported giving over $71.6 million to charity from 2012-2014? Together, we are making a difference in our communities and that makes me a #ProudREALTOR.

This holiday season Canada will be welcoming thousands of Syrian refugees. I am already blown away by Canadians' compassion and generosity. This is truly what giving back and the holiday spirit is all about. I encourage all REALTORS® do to what you can because I believe as a country #CanadaCares and as an industry #REALTORSCare.

2/ Join the REALTOR® Action Network (RAN) and lend your voice to our advocacy efforts.

A new government – including a historic 197 new Members of Parliament – is an opportunity and challenge for CREA's government relations team in Ottawa and our 300+ Political Action Committee (PAC) Reps across the country.

Members of RAN may be required to hold the government to its promises and weighing in on interventions into the housing market by taking calls to action. Join today by logging in at REALTORActionNetwork.ca. If you're not in RAN, you won't receive calls to action and that isn't helpful.

3/ Be a part of the change you want to see by joining a local, provincial or national committee or board.

I've loved being president of CREA. It has been rewarding both personally and professionally. I can honestly say it has made me a better REALTOR® because I've been able to advocate for my clients, colleagues and peers and learn about changes that will affect my business so I can adapt and take advantage where possible. When I became president I knew I wanted to make it easier for REALTORS® who want to get involved to do so.

This November, I had the opportunity to discuss the importance of attracting new, experienced and skilled REALTORS® to the Board in an interview with Real Estate Magazine.

At this spring's Annual General Meeting, CREA will present a proposal that, if approved, would change the qualifications needed to serve on its Board of Directors. We want to get the right people, people who may or may not have had the opportunity to serve locally but who are qualified because they've served on other governing boards not necessarily related to real estate, on our Board.

These changes are part of larger governance changes that have reduced the size of the Board of Directors from 20 members to 16 and completely eliminated the Executive Committee.

We are accepting nominations for the 2016-17 Board of Directors and encourage eligible REALTORS® to put forward their names.

Want more information on the director recruitment process? Check out the information package available on REALTOR Link®.

4/ New to the industry? Fast-track your career and prepare yourself for leadership positions by joining a Young Professionals Network (YPN).

Many local and provincial Boards and Associations have YPNs. YPNs act like springboards, propelling new and young REALTORS® forward in their careers and into positions of influence. YPNs offer a support network for those of you just starting out, help you build your leadership skills and get acquainted with Board or Association staff and leadership.

Check out our YPN directory to see if your Board or Association has a YPN and stay tuned for information on CREA's upcoming national YPN event in Charlottetown, PEI.

Give back this holiday season and while you're at it, eat some chocolate. To the best of my knowledge no one has studied the effects of giving back AND eating chocolate, but in my non-scientific, professional opinion, it should double the good feelings you experience.

Until next year my friends, on behalf of the CREA Board of Directors and staff I would like to wish you all happy holidays and a prosperous new year.

Your president,

Pauline Aunger



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