Each year, the Houston Association of REALTORS® (HAR) honors a member that has made an outstanding contribution to the community, primarily outside the scope of the real estate industry. The criteria for the John E. Wolf Community Service Award, which is named after 1938-39 HAR President John E. Wolf, include leadership and service in charitable organizations, service organizations and special service organizations. For 2016, Bill Baldwin, broker-owner of Boulevard Realty, was selected as the HAR member most deserving of this honor.
What was your first reaction when you learned that you were the 2016 honoree?
My initial reaction when looking at all of the community service cited in the nomination was, “I’m a very lucky man.” I start each day by looking at what I have to do and whether or not it will serve not only my career but my community and the success of Boulevard Realty’s agents for just that one day. So I’m supremely humbled knowing that the decisions we make each day can add up to so much in the long run.
What does this honor mean to you?
It means that I’m in the right profession. Not only by virtue of the fact that I am able to play such an active role in my community, but also since I am part of an association that recognizes and appreciates those efforts.
What do you find most gratifying about your work as a real estate professional?
I am most gratified by the fact that, at its core, my role is that of a trusted advisor. If being a REALTOR® was all about making a sale and putting up numbers, well, there’s just a very limited amount of satisfaction to be found in that. I need to feel like I am truly of service to my friends, neighbors and fellow Houstonians, and I feel fortunate to have built a business model and brand that allow me to do that in many, many ways.
What are some of the ways that you give back to the community – community service/volunteer work – the main reason for the honor?
Frankly, I think our world can use more “doers,” and I am proud to model for my agents and sphere what exactly that looks like. When I look at the world of public service, philanthropy, and community engagement in my neighborhood or around the city, we are a relatively small group, even though there is really no great barrier to entry to get more involved in an HOA, neighborhood association, super neighborhood council, the list goes on. One of my favorite endeavors this year was the crowdfunding aspect of the Mecom Fountain restoration campaign, which was the idea of one of Houston’s most passionate and committed “doers,” my friend Phoebe Tudor. While everyone knew the fountain needed to be restored and preserved, no one quite knew how or who should pay for it. This was a way for people to have a meaningful role in preserving Houston’s history by donating just $5 or $10, spreading the word among their friends, sharing the story on Facebook. It really is that simple.
Do you have any other thoughts or comments?
To my fellow REALTORS®, there is a huge opportunity for us to get more involved locally, and we have a vested interest in bettering as many communities as possible. Land is finite, and with such a large association of professional REALTORS®, Houston is competitive, so let’s put it this way: Higher property values mean higher commissions! How do we increase those values? Better schools through active PTAs and school boards, “adopt-a-block” programs, donations to non-profits and public-private partnerships like the SPARK Parks and Buffalo Bayou Partnership, just to name a few. Let’s get out there!
Congratulations, Bill! You are indeed most deserving of HAR’s 2016 John E. Wolf Community Service Award!