by MegAnne Liebsch
Fox & Roach realtor Ellen Goodwin has been organizing the Chestnut Hill branch of Fox & Roach charities through four company mergers. Now part of Berkshire Hathaway, Fox & Roach charities continues to benefit local families and children in need.
The charity runs and benefits many programs throughout the year, but every October, Fox & Roach offices across the tri-state area host a Charities Day. Offices are closed, and instead realtors and employees do community service at multiple sites, logging a year’s worth of service hours in one day.
For last year’s Charities Day, the Chestnut Hill branch helped out at Linglebach Public Elementary School, planting gardens and sprucing up the front entrance, as well as organizing the new school library. Before Charities Day, Linglebach didn’t have a functional library for students to borrow books, so the Chestnut Hill Fox & Roach organized a book drive to donate books to the library.
“We’re more of a family than people coming and going from an office,” Goodwin explained. “We do things together that make a difference in our community.”
Goodwin’s work doesn’t stop with Charities Day, though. Over the years, Goodwin has organized local service at public schools such as Linglebach and Jenks, at homeless shelters such as St. Paul’s and St. Vincent’s, in urban gardens, and building houses with Project Home and Habitat for Humanity.
Every fall, Goodwin organizes the office’s Cradles to Crayons drive, which helps donate school supplies and backpacks to children in foster care. In December, the office partners with families-in-need to buy them Christmas presents that the families would not be able to afford otherwise.
When Linglebach received a school-wide budget of $150 for supplies a few years ago, Goodwin organized a drive for the school to fill its wish list. The publicity from their donations attracted other public donors who continue to supplement Linglebach’s budget.
Goodwin explained that Fox & Roach charities is more than donating money. To her, it’s about creating community within the office and at the sites where employees serve.
“What’s important about [the charity work] is that we’re independent contractors, and we all come together and give money from the ground roots up,” Goodwin said. “This is getting out there, getting down and dirty and doing the work.”
As the Chestnut Hill branch volunteer coordinator, Goodwin chooses the programs the office will support, plans dates and timelines with its partner organizations and reminds and encourages the office to get involved. Goodwin carefully considers and selects the organizations who want and need its help most, with an emphasis on local service work.
“There are 73 offices [of Fox & Roach realtors], so we cover the area in which we work. We want to be part of the people we help and live with everyday,” Goodwin explained.
Goodwin herself has been on the board of the Chestnut Hill Garden District.
“I love Chestnut Hill, and I want people to live there and be happy,” she said.
Goodwin attributes a lot of her drive as a realtor and as a volunteer coordinator to her family.
“I grew up in a family where civic duty and giving back is important,” she added.
In addition to organizing multiple service projects every year, Goodwin is also one of the top realtors in the Philadelphia area and the top producer at the Chestnut Hill branch of Fox & Roach for the last three consecutive years.
Although she will still be a full-time realtor for Fox & Roach, Goodwin has decided to step down from her post as volunteer coordinator and will be handing the difficult yet important position over to another employee later this year.
Over the years, Goodwin has organized and worked on many projects, but her favorite part remains the same.
“My favorite parts are when you’re out there doing a project,” she said. “I know it sounds corny but it’s really a team effort. It’s people who are busy, taking time to do service. There is definitely a feeling of togetherness.”