More Than Real Estate: How CBRE Gives Back to the Community
December 12, 2023 6 Minute Read
The holidays are a time to give back, show gratitude and extend a helping hand to those less fortunate.
This sentiment resonates deeply with CBRE Canada’s leadership and employees.
“I am always impressed by the incredible generosity that CBRE employees and the commercial real estate industry as a whole are capable of,” says CBRE Canada President and CEO Jon Ramscar. “Our ability to give back and make positive change is central to our mission, not secondary to providing real estate services. We transact and advise on commercial real estate for our clients every day, which in turn contributes to shaping the form and function of our built environment. Our mission makes us even better partners to our clients and our communities.”
In 2021, following a company-wide survey, CBRE Canada selected the Canadian Mental Health Association as its national charity. Since then, CBRE has contributed over $250,000 to the cause, thanks to fundraising events such as the Annual Charity Golf Classic and the Not Myself Today program. The CBRE Annual Charity Golf Classic has raised over $1,500,000 for charitable causes since its inception in 1992.
“Real estate is not just about the bricks and mortar, it has always been and will always be about people. We are embracing the roots of our industry and approaching our business more holistically,” says Ramscar. “Partnering with local and national organizations is one way we are living out our goal to be more than just a real estate business and to evolve the company into new areas of growth.”
We spoke to CBRE employees in Vancouver, Calgary, Toronto and Montreal to learn more about some of the organizations and causes our people are supporting.
CBRE helps cleanup the community
Chris MacCauley has always been involved in his community.
“It’s our responsibility to give back,” says the Vancouver-based industrial broker. “Every day we work with our communities on the business side, it’s only right that we give back in ways to make our communities and the people in them better.”
For the last decade MacCauley has been involved with Vancouver’s Music Heals Charitable Foundation, an organization founded by Dave Barnett, a Director of Dayhu Group of Companies. Since its inception in 2012 Music Heals has donated over $3 million to support a wide range of music therapy services to communities in BC and across Canada. Music Heals increases access to music for at-risk youth and for patients in children’s hospitals, senior’s centres, palliative care, AIDS & HIV programs, habilitation and bereavement support.
Every October, with MacCauley’s help, CBRE sponsors the Music Heals Strike a Chord gala. The night features live performances from artists including Grammy and Juno Award winners and raises funds for music therapy programs.
“It’s always sold out and there’s great participation from the real estate community,” says MacCauley. “And being able to see the impact of your donations is very meaningful.”
A Benefit for Music Heals 2023, Music Heals Charitable Foundation - Chris MacCauley and Dave Barnett - Photo: Music Heals Charitable Foundation
Making Sports Accessible
Sports have always played a big role in Greg Kwong’s life.
“I grew up playing many sports and that’s had a massive positive impact on my life,” says CBRE’s Alberta Region Managing Director. “They’re a great way for children to learn teamwork, let out their energy and create healthy lifestyles.”
Today, Kwong channels his passion for sports into his role as chairman of the board for WinSport, a Calgary-based organization that operates nearby Canada Olympic Park, the Bill Warren Training Centre in Canmore, and the Beckie Scott High Performance Centre on the Haig Glacier. WinSport also runs year-round programs and facilities for athletes of all ages and skill levels.
“Canadian sports are underfunded compared to countries like the U.S.,” says Kwong. “Organizations like WinSport make sports accessible to underprivileged children and athletes, giving them a chance to learn and be active in their communities.”
WinSport’s community impact initiatives include an adaptive wheelchair sport program, a female sports development program and a newcomers program introducing new Calgarians to skiing, snowboarding, skating and mountain biking.
Kwong and the CBRE Calgary office have been helping WinSport with financial donations, by raising awareness and volunteering to their programs.
“Charities survive on donations and volunteering,” Kwong says. “At CBRE Calgary we get involved in both aspects. Our people are very generous with their money and their time, and it makes all the difference in our communities.”
Spring mountain bike programs, WinSport's Canada Olympic Park - Photo: WinSport
Helping Youth on a Better Path
For Toronto-based broker Mike Czestochowski, giving back to his community starts with its youth.
The recipient of CBRE’s 2022 Change Maker Award, Czestochowski, who sat on the board of Markham Stouffville Hospital for five years, is known for his generosity and his philanthropic efforts.
During the pandemic he purchased 3,500 boxes of Girl Guide cookies and donated them to the staff of Markham Stouffville Hospital. He’s also funded scientific research at the St. Michael’s Hospital and frequently donates to causes such as The Ride to Conquer Cancer and the Blu Genes Foundation.
In recent years Czestochowski has focused his efforts on Covenant House, Canada’s largest organization for helping at-risk youth, providing them with shelter, employment resources and support networks.
“The first time I visited Toronto’s Covenant House, it broke my heart,” he says. “I hadn’t realized how much need there was in our city. It’s a huge place, but their food bank was empty.”
Since then, Czestochowski and his team have helped fill Covenant House’s food bank twice. Each time, they’ve donated more than $1,000 worth of food and toiletries.
As part of his Covenant House efforts, Czestochowski once again participated in this year’s Executives Sleep Out on Nov. 16. The Sleep Out is a one-night event that brings GTA executives together to sleep outside and raise funds for Covenant House’s programs. Last year Czestochowski raised over $13,000; this year he raised nearly $22,000.
“It’s so important to help our youth get on a better path,” he says. “Too many young people end up on the street through no fault of their own, simply the result of bad circumstances. In such an affluent city, we need to do more to ensure we take care of each other and create a future where nobody has to stay out on the streets.”
Mike Czestochowski at the 2023 Covenant House Executive Sleep Out
Rallying for Kids
In the fall, they hosted a cocktail event to raise money for the Montreal Real Estate Foundation for Kids (FIMJ), a group focused on helping young people with difficult lives flourish and grow.
Launched in 2003 in collaboration with BOMA Québec and IDU Québec, FIMJ distributes funds to local organizations that work with Quebec youth. These groups support vulnerable children through programs such as hot meal services, respite care assistance and educational day camps.
Daunais and Cymet were co-presidents of this year’s event, FIMJ’s first since the pandemic.
“We nearly called the whole real estate industry for support,” says Daunais. “We reached out to institutional and private players alike.”
Their efforts paid off. By the night of the event, they had raised a record $200,000 for the cause.
“Even though a lot of budgets were tighter this year, people rallied to create a positive impact on their community,” says Daunais.
“We appreciate the generosity of the Greater Montreal business community.”
FIMJ's Sonia Gagnon with CBRE's Ruth Fischer, Ryan Cymet and Jean-Philippe Daunais at the 2023 FIMJ Cocktail CBRE.
Whether you are a CBRE employee, partner or client, a member of the commercial real estate industry or simply someone looking to make positive change, we ask you to join us in doing more, striving more and being more to the people and communities around us:
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