Ortrud â€œTrudyâ€ Harsh, an associate broker with Long & Fosterâ€™s Fairfax Centre office in Fairfax has been named a finalist in the Good Neighbor Awards by REALTOR Magazine, the official publication of the National Association of Realtors (NAR). Another Long & Foster Realtor — Rocco “Rocky” Balsamo, with Long & Fosterâ€™s office in Princeton Junction, N.J. — is also a finalist in the competition.
The Good Neighbors Award program recognizes and honors outstanding Realtors who volunteer their time and energy to improving the quality of life in their communities and exemplify how Realtors across the country give back to their communities. This is the 13th year the magazine has sponsored the program.
Balsamo and Harsh are included in the top 10 group of finalists drawn from 200 nominations the magazine received, and will be featured in the November/December issue of REALTOR Magazine. The five top winners will be announced in October, and will each receive a $10,000 grant and paid travel to the NAR Conference & Expo in Orlando, Fla., where they will receive their awards. The remaining five honorable mentions will each receive $2,500 grants for their causes.
Harsh is the founder of The Brain Foundation, launched in 2003 to address the growing need for affordable housing for adults who suffer with brain disease and might otherwise be homeless. The foundation has since purchased six homes that house 24 adults with diseases like schizophrenia, bi-polar disorder and chronic depression. She also has formed a successful partnership with another non-profit to provide residents with services that allow them to live independently. Her model has been copied in Florida and she frequently mentors others who are trying to create similar programs.
â€œIt is a great honor to be nominated and I am proud to be chosen by such a wonderful group. I look forward to the increase in awareness about The Brain Foundation, brain disease, and the growing need there is for the establishment of more programs designed to assist people afflicted by such devastating illnesses,â€ Harsh said.
â€œWe need a lot more brain foundations to help those who cannot help control themselves as a result of their disease, and we need to create a greater awareness within the public that no one is to blame for these debilitating illnesses. I hope this recognition will aid The Brain Foundation in continuing to serve as a model for others to follow when establishing similar non-profits,â€ she added.
Balsamo is founding board member and volunteer executive director for Center for FaithJustice (CFJ), a non-profit group that promotes volunteerism among teens and young adults. CFJ runs summer day camps and sleep away camps as well as other year-round workshops for schools and churches. Last year, more than 900 teens volunteered more than 20,000 hours at local charities and spent a similar number of hours in education classes.