REALTORS® Geoff and Regan Archambault are renowned in their city as generous donors, effective board leaders and community builders. They were named the recipients of the Canadian REALTORS Care® Award 2019 Proudly Presented by REALTOR.ca this past April after being nominated by a fellow REALTOR® in their community of Winnipeg, Manitoba. In honour of Geoff and Regan and all the inspiring ways they give back, CREA was proud to donate $5,000 to the charity of their choice: K.I.D.S. Kenya Initiative for Development & Sustainability Inc. (K.I.D.S. Initiative).
K.I.D.S. Initiative is just one of many charities Geoff and Regan support; but it’s a special one given that they have been deeply involved since the early days of the organization and they have seen firsthand the positive impact it has had.
Its founder, Cat Ross, was only 23 years old when she came up with the idea for K.I.D.S. Initiative, after travelling to Kenya to work in HIV/AIDS clinics there.
“I didn’t expect the shock coming home or the way I would feel after having experienced such poverty firsthand and then returning to a house with easily accessible water from a tap in nearly every room, flushing toilets, so much excess that turns to waste, free education and healthcare,” explains Ross. “It was the total imbalance of resources we have here in North America versus the lack of resources the amazing individuals I had built relationships within Kenya had … I had to do something.”
When Ross was putting together her first board of directors for K.I.D.S. Initiative, she approached Geoff Archambault, shared her vision and asked if he’d be interested. “Without hesitation he said yes and has been a huge supporter ever since,” she recalls.
K.I.D.S. Initiative was founded in 2010. Its mission is to promote development, enrichment and sustainable solutions to partners in Kenya through educational programs and local fundraising in Canada. As one of the founding K.I.D.S. Initiative board members, Geoff played an integral role in developing its bylaws, programming and fundraising opportunities as well as strategic planning.
“Geoff and Regan’s experience having already been successful business owners and partners was crucial to me at that time when I was so young, developing this organization,” explains Ross. “They provided a wealth of advice and knowledge.”
In 2016, Geoff, Regan and their two children accompanied Ross on a distribution trip to Kenya, to see K.I.D.S. Initiative projects in progress with their own eyes. “We visited two IDP (Internally Displaced Persons) camps and were amazed at the gracious welcomes we received when we arrived,” Geoff recalls. “The communities are so thankful of the help we provide them and that we continue to come back to help.”
For the Archambault family, it was a perspective-shifting experience. “My biggest takeaway is how a little can do so much for so many,” shares Geoff. “A greenhouse at one of the orphanages we supported wasn’t doing very well because of the lack of water—the water collector system that we supplied them to collect rainwater from the roofs was not providing enough water. The director told us the neighbouring farm would supply them with water, but they would need to supply the piping. This was just too much for them to handle at the time and they had to pass up on this opportunity. We asked how much it would cost for the piping and it was around $600 Canadian. We looked at each other and right then and there it was done. Our contact on the ground immediately started the process and within a few days they had water to the orphanage.”
K.I.D.S. Initiative ensures that 100% of donor dollars go directly to their programs in securing sustainable solutions. “The sustainability piece of K.I.D.S. Initiative really speaks to us as business leaders and donors,” says Regan. “We’re helping people get to a new threshold in life where they can be self-sustainable.”
Editor’s Note: The nomination period for the Canadian REALTORS Care® Award 2020 is now open! If you know a REALTOR® who is making a difference in their community and deserves recognition on a national level, please nominate them before our deadline of December 6, 2019, at 4 p.m. Eastern.