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Giving Back to Pay it Forward

Vail Board of Realtors

It has been a tumultuous year 2020. But amidst the disruption, there is always time for giving. As we settle into fall, now is the perfect time to reflect on the positive impacts the acts of giving can provide during a stressful year.

While uncertainty has managed to distract the best of us, the Vail Board of Realtors® (VBR) Foundation has been able to award $35,000 in student scholarships to 21 hard-working Eagle County youth, in addition to supporting 13 local nonprofits, and financial assistance to at least one individual, giving back a total of $71,000 to our local community.  

For Cynthia Thrall, VBR Foundation Chairperson, community support comes naturally. “My family has always been involved with philanthropy, especially in our local communities.  When I worked in the automotive industry in Chicagoland, we created a voluntary committee to boost community involvement. It was an incredible experience. I’ve been involved with the VBR Foundation since 2017 as a Director and now as the Chairperson. It’s a very heartwarming feeling to give back to Eagle County residents in such a meaningful way.”

Scholarship Program Soars

Supporting Eagle County residents is at the heart of the VBR Foundation’s mission—to assist the community and association members with need-based financial assistance, nonprofit support, education, and disaster relief. The student scholarship program fulfills the focus on education. And, it has grown substantially each year since 2018 when the program began. In 2019, the program awarded 12 students and this year, the recipients nearly doubled.

The 21 students from throughout Eagle County received up to $2,000 each and will have the opportunity to use scholarship funds to attend colleges and universities across the country including Indiana, California, Oklahoma, Wisconsin, New York, and Colorado. And, many have lofty goals in law, classical music, engineering and physics.

The increase in funds can be attributed to a creative approach to fundraising according to Thrall, “The 2020 scholarship funds came from our 2019 Vail Board of Realtors Holiday Party. We created a gift basket theme and asked each real estate brokerage office in Eagle County to donate a basket. It was quite successful—there were so many creative, valuable, and fun donations. We also took our traditional silent auction online, which opened it up to people who weren’t able to attend the holiday party. We had a great response.”

  “Creating a friendly competition between all the real estate brokerage offices is really what increased the participation in the online auction. And, when we switched the VBR holiday party to a fundraising event for Eagle County students, I think it made all the difference in the world—people are quite willing to assist students in pursuing higher education. Our goal is to get more Realtors and offices involved in this invaluable endeavor. We are so appreciative of everyone’s generosity.”

In addition to increasing student scholarships, the VBR Foundation was also able to increase giving to local nonprofits. One such organizations is Habitat for Humanity Vail Valley.

“The VBR Foundation has been supporting Habitat for years,” says Thrall. “We continue to partner with the organization because their mission aligns with our real estate commitment to Eagle County. In addition to financial support, many of the real estate brokerage offices volunteer to help build the homes—putting up drywall, painting, landscaping, or anything else that needs to be done.”

Virtual Golf Tournament

Fundraising is a year-round effort and golf tournaments are a popular venue for putting the fun in fundraising. With social distancing however, events in the midst of a pandemic can be challenging. So, the VBR Foundation came up with yet another creative approach to an important annual fundraiser.

The 8th annual event was held virtually from August 18 through September 30. Anyone interested in supporting the Foundation could organize a team, choose any course to play in the valley, register the team with a per player donation through the event website, play and have fun for a great cause. All registrants for the virtual event were entered into an October 1 drawing for a 7-night stay in a private residence at Indian Wells, California near Palm Springs.

Open to anyone, not just golfers, this more casual approach to a golf tournament was meant to encourage as much pleasure in celebrating each other as it was to raise money for need-based assistance.

“We wanted people to have fun with this by playing golf with family, friends, and clients,” says Thrall. “Virtual tournament team photos will be posted online for all to enjoy.”

To learn more about the VBR Foundation or make a donation, visit VBR.net or, consider supporting the Foundation on Colorado Gives Day, December 8, 2020.


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