CCIM Feature Brokerage

Walking Tall

Brokerage community adopts real estate pro's youth program

Though Robert M. Mauk, CCIM, isn't a jockey, he spends a great deal of time in the winner's circle. The champions who share the spotlight with Mauk are the thousands of schoolchildren who take part in Winners Walk Tall, a community-based volunteer program devoted to educating today's youth on becoming leaders in life. WWT's mission is to teach kids fundamental values and life skills through short, interactive classroom activities.

In the early 1990s, Mauk helped his daughter, who is a teacher, by spending time each week tutoring the students in her second-grade class. Despite his busy schedule as a senior vice president at Colliers Turley Martin Tucker in Cincinnati, he wondered if he could be doing even more to help the kids. When he asked another teacher what else the children needed, he received an earful: "She said they desperately needed help with manners and learning how to treat people with respect - the basic values that are necessary to make good choices as they mature," he says.

The conversation planted a seed in Mauk's mind that blossomed into WWT. For two years he hosted weekly classroom discussions on character-building topics ranging from choosing reading over television to setting goals to overcoming peer pressure. Mauk's idea soon spread like wildfire: Local volunteers joined him at that school in 1994; the program expanded to other Cincinnati-area schools in 1996; and WWT was incorporated as a nonprofit organization in 1997. Currently, more than 450 volunteers spend time with about 20,000 children in nine U.S. states and Montreal, Quebec. A small staff and board of directors run the program, which is funded solely through donations and foundation funds.

"Many of the volunteers come from the ranks of commercial real estate offices," Mauk says. He estimates about 20 to 25 CCIMs currently are WWT volunteers. "One of my goals with the program is to take it across the country through the commercial and residential real estate communities," he says. His goal is being realized through a recently established partnership among Colliers International, Coldwell Banker Real Estate Corp., and WWT. "Inquiries from all over the country are coming in weekly."

In 2002, Colliers International honored Mauk with the Tom Richardson Award, which annually recognizes one employee's work and community achievements. "It was great exposure for Winners Walk Tall within Colliers," Mauk says.

Now that WWT is off and running, Mauk has no plans to take a seat in the grandstand. His fondness for the program only continues to grow: "The kids just light up when you step in the classroom, and they really bond with the volunteers," he says. But it's the program's results that keep him coming back: "The teachers say they really see an immediate difference in the kids."

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