The Young Professionals Network of the Rockford Area REALTORS® (RAR) showed its support this week for a project designed to help local survivors of domestic violence, sexual assault, child abuse, elder abuse and human trafficking.

REALTORS® presented Rockford Mayor Tom McNamara with a $10,000 donation for the Rockford Family Peace Center, which will provide multiple services in a central location for victims of these crimes.

RAR CEO Conor Brown said, “I am very proud of our YPN for bringing awareness to this significant issue facing our community. It is this type of leadership and dedication that shows how REALTORS® can affect positive change.”

After years of increases in domestic violence-related jail bookings, the City of Rockford and community members sought solutions. The Mayor’s Office of Domestic Violence and Human Trafficking Prevention and the 17th Judicial Circuit Domestic Violence Coordinated Court proposed a local family peace center. Patterned after best practices in the field of domestic violence intervention and prevention, family peace centers provide multi-agency, multidisciplinary services in a location that reduces the number of times victims tell their stories and the number of places they go for help.

According to Illinois REALTORS® Local Governmental Affairs Director Neeley Erickson, Rockford received a $450,000 federal grant from the U.S. Department of Justice to help build and open the facility next year. Donations like the one from the Rockford YPN will be used to continue operations of the Rockford facility beyond 2020. The new facility will be modeled after the Sojourner Family Peace Center in Milwaukee, WI.

Prior to the donation ceremony, Rockford REALTORS® used several fundraising events to collect money from members: a celebrity bartending event, its annual Water Balloon Battle and its Annual Boo Bash (a Halloween event). The donation is earmarked to help equip the Rockford Family Peace Center with furnishings, provider programming services or construction-related needs.

“When YPN members learned about the Family Peace Center, we felt compelled to act,” said Brittany Schultz, the 2018-19 YPN Rockford Chair. “Throughout the year we raised $10,000 to help open the Center. We live and work in this community. We are honored to stand with domestic violence and human trafficking survivors and would like to do everything we can to support them. This is another way local REALTORS® are helping the community.”

Current YPN Rockford Chair Kristina Campbell said, “The YPN committee plans to commit future funding to the Family Peace Center over the next few years. As a committee, raising awareness and support for survivors is paramount to overcoming this challenge affecting our community.”

The Rockford Area REALTORS® are led by President Rose Schlickman of Key Realty in Rockford, President-elect Jerry Gibson of Keller Williams Signature in Loves Park, Treasurer Brad Marinelli of Dickerson & Nieman Realtors in Roscoe and Immediate Past President Shane Van Sickle of LandMark Real Estate Group in Rockford. RAR has 830 members.

(This is the fifth in the REALTORS® Give Back in 2019 series, featuring community involvement stories about local members.)

Group photo of Rockford Area REALTORS® presenting check to Rockford Mayor Tom McNamara for the Rockford Family Peace Center.

Front row (l to r): Erich Stonewall, Justin Smith, Kristina Campbell, Mayor Tom McNamara, Brittany Schultz and Mike Scalise. Back row (l to r): Drew Brock, Jennifer Williams, Melissa McDonald, Carlos Serna, Noah Meyer, Austin Black and RAR CEO Conor Brown.