Congratulations to Karen DeMarco of the Coldwell Banker Realty New Jersey Tenafly Office for being selected as a NAR Good Neighbor finalist. The National Association of Realtors® (NAR) announced the 10 finalists for its 2023 Good Neighbor Awards. The awards honor NAR members who make an extraordinary difference in their communities through volunteer work. Now in its 24th year, the Good Neighbor Awards recognize volunteers who donate time, money, and passion to enrich the lives of people in their communities.
Coldwell Banker broker Karen DeMarco was inspired by her community’s support during her battle with breast cancer and decided to pay it forward. Within three years, DeMarco went from cooking meals in her kitchen to co-founding The Food Brigade. Creating a food pantry network, she has helped to provide more than 1,700 tons of food, helping tens of thousands of people in three New Jersey counties.
Learn More About Karen DeMarco
Karen DeMarco’s calendar isn’t easy to get on and for a heartwarming reason. As a broker-associate with Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage in Tenafly, New Jersey, Karen’s days are packed with a unique mission—feeding thousands of people across three counties. But this isn’t just a job for her; it’s a calling that stems from a profound sense of gratitude and community spirit.
Karen’s journey began with a battle against breast cancer that led to a double mastectomy. During her challenging recovery, her community rallied around her, delivering meals and support to her doorstep. Touched by this act of kindness, she felt compelled to give back. In 2020, she founded the Dumont Meal Brigade, a volunteer-driven initiative to provide meals to neighbors facing hardships such as illness, job loss, or family tragedies.
In the midst of a global pandemic, Karen faced surging demand while navigating COVID-19 safety measures. Undeterred, she cooked thousands of meals in her own kitchen and organized distribution events in her driveway. The response was overwhelming, with the number of meal recipients doubling after just one event.
Meeting a Community Need and Growing Demand
But Karen’s vision didn’t stop there. With the support of her husband, Carmine, she transformed the Dumont Meal Brigade into a 501(c)(3) organization, known today as The Food Brigade. By the summer of 2021, they were distributing as many as 1,800 boxes of food weekly, collaborating with local food banks, and partnering with over 30 pantries.
Karen’s dedication goes beyond providing meals; she’s attuned to the diverse needs of her community. Recognizing that some individuals couldn’t visit the pantry due to various challenges, The Food Brigade introduced an Instacart-style delivery service. The organization even partnered with organizations to supply essentials like diapers and period products.
More than Food
The Food Brigade isn’t just about food distribution; it’s about forging connections and building a sense of community. Volunteers, or “road warriors” as they’re affectionately called, go the extra mile. Volunteers ensure that every client is met with a smile and a compassionate attitude.
For Karen, The Food Brigade is a lifelong commitment. She understands that hunger remains an ongoing issue. Knowing this, she envisions this initiative enduring as a vital resource for years to come. Her mission is more than just providing sustenance; it’s about nourishing the spirit of the community and making a lasting impact.
Karen DeMarco’s story is a testament to the power of one person’s compassion and the incredible impact it can have on an entire community.
Vote for Karen and help her organization receive additional grant funding for her charity.
Congratulations Karen, you make us proud to be affiliated with Coldwell Banker!
What are the National Association of Realtors Good Neighbor Awards?
The National Association of REALTORS® Good Neighbor Awards recognize REALTORS® who have made an extraordinary impact on their community.
Five winners are announced each fall in REALTOR® Magazine. Winners are recognized annually at the REALTORS® Conference & Expo, and receive $10,000 grants for their charities. Winners also receive travel expenses to the conference and national and local media exposure for their community cause. In addition to the winners, five honorable mentions each receive a $2,500 grant.
The Good Neighbor Awards was launched in 2000. Since then, NAR has recognized nearly 230 REALTORS® for their service to their communities.
- Read the profiles of past Good Neighbor Award Winners and Honorees.
See an interactive map(link is external) of where the Good Neighbors make a difference:
Through Good Neighbor Award grants and associated programs, REALTOR®-led Good Neighbor charities have received more than $1 million in donations. In addition, each winner receives national and local publicity, which generates additional donations and inspires new volunteers to get involved. Many REALTORS® are also recognized for their community service through state and local real estate associations.