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The Yankee Express

Where there’s a hero, there’s a home, here in Central MA

Maria Reed of RE/MAX Advantage 1 in Worcester and Bill Roland of Inland Home Mortgage in Charlton spread the word about Homes for Heroes during Dudley Grange #163’s annual Apple Fest.


Bill Roland and Maria Reed were not selling the popular featured fruit at Dudley Grange #163’s annual Apple Festival on October 1st. But this did not mean their presence wasn’t an important part of the proceedings.
“Homes for Heroes,” Mr. Roland said, as he handed a visitor to their booth on Center Road a flyer. “It’s a national program, twenty years of giving back.” He is a realtor with Inland Home Mortgage in Charlton.
Mr. Roland and Ms. Reed are part of a network of affiliate real estate offices, mortgage lenders and business specialists across the country whose mission is to help firefighters, EMS, law-enforcement, military (active, reserves and veterans), health-care professionals and teachers buy, sell or refinance a home.
Since being formed in the aftermath of 9/11, Homes for Heroes has served over 56,000 individuals and families, many of them right here in Central Massachusetts, according to Diane Casey-Luong, a realtor with RE/MAX Advantage 1 in Worcester.
Talking about her own role in the initiative in RE/MAX Advantage 1’s office on Union St. in Worcester on October 11th, Ms. Casey-Luong said she got involved with Homes for Heroes “about three years ago.” She and Jo-Ann Szymczak, who is also with RE/MAX Advantage 1, are among approximately fifty agents working the program in the Commonwealth, she said.
Homes for Heroes was launched in Minneapolis in 2002 by current CEO Ruth Johnson and her family. The program has donated more than $1.2 million through its Foundation. Its Circle of Giving arm has poured money into community as well.
“I have been extremely active promoting it,” Ms. Casey-Luong said. “This Saturday, I will be at a golf tournament at Green Hill to benefit the Manny Foundation”—a cause initiated after the tragic death of Worcester Police Officer Emmanuel “Manny” Familia.
Ms. Casey-Luong’s husband is also a Worcester cop.
RE/MAX Advantage 1 is a strong supporter of Homes for Heroes. “A week or so ago we were at Polar Park for a baseball game between police and firefighters,” Ms. Casey-Luong said. “It was called after three and a half innings because of rain. The firefighters declared themselves winners! Over $15,000 was raised from tickets and concessions. We contributed about $2300 to that total.”
The “reward” that heroes receive comes from the realtor’s commission. “We pay 30% of our commission fee to Homes for Heroes and 25% of that goes directly back to our heroes,” she said. “The other 5% goes to the Homes for Heroes Foundation, for grants to medical, teachers, military organizations for the disabled.”
Ms. Casey-Luong is proud of her efforts on behalf of heroes. “I am the No. 1 Homes for Heroes agent in Massachusetts. I have rewarded about thirty-five heroes and we are going to reach our $100,000 mark,” she said. “Right now I have five transactions closing in October. I am married to a police officer here in the city and I know a lot of other people who would be eligible for assistance through this program,” she said. “Four hundred of them right next door,” she added, in a reference to the WPD.
“It’s amazing, not a lot of people know about Homes for Heroes,” Ms. Casey-Luong said.
That is changing, one event and one home sold, at a time.
“This is one of the best programs that I have seen since retiring from the U.S. Navy in 2006, where something is done to help veterans from start to finish,” a vet named “Bobby” was quoted as saying on the Homes for Heroes flyer.
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Contact Rod Lee at [email protected] or 774-232-2999.