Canadian REALTORS Care® Award: How Kelly Byers’ Selflessness and Optimism Impacts Her Community

Growing up with avid volunteers for parents, Kelly Byers, a REALTOR® and salesperson in Woodstock, Ontario, learned from an early age how to look for the needs in her community.

Byers’ lifelong passion for rallying her community to make a positive difference in the lives of those around her can be boiled down to a simple, guiding principle: “At the end of the day, I think that the world is a better place when we all have enough.”

This year, the Canadian Real Estate Association (CREA) is proud to honour Byers with the Canadian REALTORS Care® Award 2024 Proudly Presented by REALTOR.ca, for being an inspirational force for good in her community.

How Byers Gives Back

In 2010, as she was driving home from a client appointment, Byers heard of the great need at Woodstock’s Salvation Army food bank on the radio and said she was determined to help. She approached her colleagues at her brokerage with the idea of canvassing their community for food bank donations, and they were happy to participate. After a successful drive, Byers approached her local real estate association, Woodstock Ingersoll Tillsonburg and Area Association of REALTORS®  (WITAAR), to see what a whole community of REALTORS® could accomplish.

Fourteen years after that first food drive, the REALTORS Care® Food Drive has collected more than 250,000 pounds of food for the Salvation Army and has expanded into many more communities across Oxford County.

“It feels awesome to know that we are able to do so much for our community and for those who are struggling,” reflected Byers, who is currently with RE/MAX a-b Realty in Woodstock, Ontario. “And it’s pretty cool to see how many REALTORS® step up year-after-year.”

Every spring, more than 100 volunteers go out into their communities to spread the word of the upcoming REALTORS Care® Food Drive. Byers has been responsible for recruiting countless REALTORS® and community members, many of whom have become annual participants. On the first Wednesday of May, they return to their routes to collect the donations left out on the front steps by fellow community members. After completing her own route, Byers can be found quarterbacking operations at the Woodstock Salvation Army, ensuring that carloads of donations are quickly processed.

“[Many food banks] get their Christmas drive, but then have to start shopping May, June, July to try to keep their shelves full,” shared Noel Sterne, Community Ministries Coordinator, Salvation Army Woodstock. “That is less of a concern for us here in Woodstock because of the REALTORS Care® Food Drive and Kelly’s hard work.”

As a vocal community advocate, Byers is engaged with many groups that look to support vulnerable people in Woodstock. As a proud member of 100 Women Who Care Oxford County, Kelly helps to raise funds, recruit volunteers and direct donations to local non-profits. Her work with the Oxford Local Immigration Partnership looks to address discrimination and create an inclusive Oxford County.

In 2015, Byers partnered with a handful of community members to bring a family of Syrian refugees to Woodstock. Byers helped raise thousands of dollars, supported their integration into the community and secured a place for the family to call home. In the family’s first year in Canada, she spent much of her time helping the family adjust to Canadian life, whether that was providing assistance during our harsh winter weather or taking the time to watch their children.

A life-changing diagnosis

In June of 2023, Byers life would change when she was diagnosed with leukemia and had to immediately undergo lifesaving treatment. This, unfortunately, put many of her volunteer endeavours on pause.

“No one wants to see anything like this happen to anyone, but I think it’s especially awful when things like this happen to the best people,” said close friend Kristy Hons. “If you’ve encountered Kelly, she’s learned everything about you. She’s probably gone out of her way to help you.”

In short order, the community began to rally around the Byers family, knowing that Kelly would be the first in line to offer a helping hand if someone else was in her shoes.

Residents found ways to give back that would resonate with Byers’ community spirit. When Byers had a first-hand experience with the healthcare system’s dire need for blood, she put out a call for blood donations that friends, family and REALTORS® were ready to answer.

While she was away receiving care at Toronto’s Sunnybrook Hospital, Byers’ children, Audrey and Mason, rallied their friends for the Kids Against Leukemia Bake Sale, to raise money for the hospital’s hematology unit. Community members packed the street and flooded their online donation page to the tune of nearly $20,000.

With many uncertainties now in their life, Byers and her husband, Justin, wanted to do something within their control to bring joy to the students at their children’s school and made a $40,000 donation to install a brand-new play structure.

Her kindness and passion for bettering the lives of others has inspired her own community into action.

In Byers’ honour, CREA has donated $5,000 to the London Health Sciences Foundation’s Stem Cell Patient Assistance Fund.

“At the end of the day, I think that the world is a better place when we all have enough.”

– Kelly Byers

REALTORS Care® Day 2024

The Woodstock Ingersoll Tillsonburg and Area Association of REALTORS® continued the work started by Byers and hosted its first annual REALTORS Care® Day collecting donations for local food banks on May 1, 2024. Joined by an estimated 200 volunteers, with more than 100 REALTORS®, the event saw the highest level of participation ever. The 38,000 pounds of food collected will support people throughout  Oxford County until their holiday food drives in the fall.

Since 2016, CREA has honoured ten REALTORS® across five provinces with the Canadian REALTORS Care® Award. While they have all made their impact in different ways, each recipient has embodied the REALTORS Care® spirit through their passion for making the communities in which they live and work a better place for all. Read their stories on REALTORSCare.ca.

Adam Nadeau, Program Manager, Strategic Impact, works on all aspects of CREA’s national REALTORS Care® and YPN Connection programs. He joined CREA from the tech sector, where he worked in community relations, student programs and internal communications. Outside of the office, Adam is a big sports guy who loves live music, gets out and about with his dog, and enjoys having a good time.


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