By Brenda Hayden, 2019 Association/Canopy MLS President
2019 has been an amazing year at the Association.
I’m not sure in our nearly 100-year history (we will hit the century mark in 2021!) that we’ve expanded our profile in the community, our member services and facilities and our geographic footprint as much as we have in 2019 — certainly not collectively in one year.
Of course, most of the accomplishments were set in motion in prior years, and I was just the lucky president in the front seat of the roller coaster we call 2019: new headquarters, new branding, Foundation growth, and membership expansion with both the Association and MLS.
These achievements are notable in significant ways, both tangible and intangible. The new headquarters allowed us to improve the member experience and our services. New branding under the Canopy name has helped unify who we are in the minds of members, the industry, and consumers.
I’ll never forget earlier this year when I and several others from the Association were talking to Realtor® leaders from outside the Charlotte area, and they didn’t know Mingle School (now Canopy Real Estate Institute) was part of our Association. Branding research we did in 2018 with local constituencies also identified this gap and others related to our entities’ names. There was a blatant disconnect.
Not anymore. Today the “Canopy” name is part of all our entities, including the Association. In November, NAR approved our request to do business as Canopy Realtor® Association.
Meanwhile, Canopy Housing Foundation took a big leap this year from many perspectives. Our grants luncheon honored a record number of nonprofits (16), and at the event, the Foundation gave out the first YES Awards to youth leaders, sisters Mykia and Zarriah White.
At the luncheon, The Relatives received $25,222 in proceeds from our Strides for Shelter race to buy a new van. It replaced one that kept breaking down. And The Relatives — which provides shelter to at-risk and runaway youth — was so efficient with its van purchase that there was enough money left over to fix the old van. How wonderful!
The Foundation nearly reached a $1 million endowment level this year — in no small part because of The Pearl Society, a benefactor group formed in 2019 to support this charitable arm of the Association.
The founding members of The Pearl Society raised $140,000 in a few short months. We commissioned well-known Charlotte artist Shaun Cassidy to create a statement artwork in honor of these founding members. You can see his home-themed art just inside our entrance on Pearl Park Way. It’s terrific.
Association and Canopy MLS Growth
In November by unanimous vote, we expanded our Association with the addition of the Haywood Realtor® Association, based in Waynesville, N.C., west of Asheville. A staff member located there works directly with local members. It was the first Association expansion since Iredell County joined our Association in 1995. As of Dec. 30, we have 12,032 Association members.
Canopy MLS also continued to grow in 2019, adding MLSs once affiliated with North Carolina Realtor® organizations in Burke and McDowell counties and in Salisbury/Rowan County. The MLS for the Piedmont Regional Association of Realtors®, based in Rock Hill, S.C., also merged with Canopy MLS in 2019. As of Dec. 30, the number of Subscribers and Member Participants in Canopy MLS stands at 17,890.
Record Volunteer Interest
The upshot of all this is that member engagement is high. This fall we had a record number of members who expressed interest in serving on Association committees in 2020. With more than 200 stepping forward, I’m grateful to see such robust volunteer interest.
Our staff does an outstanding job supporting our volunteer leaders and, overall, bringing to life the leadership’s decisions. Sometimes I think the staff does this through magic — they make things happen and are so gracious and accommodating along the way. They truly have the membership at heart.
I hope my messages about volunteer leadership also have encouraged more members to get involved. As I’ve said before, none of us has to be perfect, or a million-dollar producer, to have a place at the table. We all have value to contribute.
Writer Edith Wharton once aptly expressed how we can serve as leaders. “There are two ways of spreading light: to be the candle or the mirror that reflects it.” As your president in 2019, I have been both, or either, depending on what benefits our Association. Thank you for the opportunity to serve, including the thrill of a memorable year. What a ride it’s been!