Since its inception in 1998, the Berkshire Hathaway Gillespie Foundation has enhanced the Missoula community through charitable giving and service to many of Missoula’s nonprofit organizations.
Gary Bryan, broker associate at Berkshire Hathaway, is very familiar with the growth the foundation has experienced over the years.
“We were the first real estate company in Missoula to establish an agent-driven foundation. It originated in 1998, when we were still Gillespie Realty, and has stayed and grown with us through our Prudential Montana era, and now as Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Montana Properties. Our goal has been, and still is, to make Missoula a better place to live by giving back to the community that we call home,” Bryan said.
Funds for the foundation are primarily generated by donations from Berkshire Hathaway agent sales of home or commercial property. In the past, fundraisers were used to increase awareness and raise resources.
“Over the years, we have had several different fundraising events. One of the largest past fundraisers for the foundation was our very successful booth at the Missoula County Fair, where we cooked and sold our famous tailgate bratwurst during the horse-racing era,” Bryan said.
Mary Trochmann, sales associate for Berkshire Hathaway and foundation chair, helps to see that the funds are effectively distributed.
“Our foundation is 100 percent supported by our agents, and each year in December we meet as the foundation board and review applications that have been submitted for funds from local organizations. On average, we donate to 10-15 organizations per year. After a selection process, we compile a list and base the contribution amounts from a ballot-based vote by our agents,” Trochmann said.
Bryan recalls many of the projects the foundation has helped bring to fruition.
“Our organization fully funded the handicapped entry door at the Ronald McDonald House, which was inspired by Cynthia Bryan's late husband, Charles Bryan, who had MS and was wheelchair-bound. Since the beginning of the foundation, we have donated over $60,000 to Watson Children’s Shelter, the YWCA and Missoula Aging Services alone. We have given to 66 different organizations and special needs groups over the years,” Bryan said.
In 2016, the foundation contributed to 14 different organizations. In addition to financial resources, Berkshire Hathaway agents invested their own time in bettering the Missoula community.
“This past year several agents in our office have been donating their time every week to clean the (YWCA) shelter. Also, as a company, we have been providing food and other household items, as needed, to the YWCA residents,” Trochmann said.
Mike Nugent, managing broker for Berkshire Hathaway, has seen firsthand how the foundation positively impacts Berkshire Hathaway agents and spurs them to action.
“Our agents are proud of the work the foundation does and the impact we can have on our local community through it. Our agents are heavily involved in the Missoula community, volunteering on many boards, museums and so on. This gives us all an opportunity to make a difference as an agent group,” Nugent said.
“The foundation means a lot to me personally; that is why I have stayed on as the chair for the last 10 years. I love being able to hear from the different groups on how we were able to help. The stories of hope and love are humbling and inspiring. To know that we make a difference means everything. To be able to give back, make a positive impact and help make Missoula a better place for everyone – that's what matters,” Trochmann said.
The foundation is thriving and will not rest on its laurels in 2017, as many events already are being planned.
“One thing that we are excited for this summer is our first annual Foundation Appreciation BBQ and Fundraising event. This will be an opportunity for us to acknowledge our past recipients and hopefully bring some community awareness to our foundation. Watch for details, as they will be provided closer to the date,” Trochmann said.
The Berkshire Hathaway team is committed to carrying on the legacy of the foundation while enhancing the Missoula community through charitable giving and service.
“The agents saw a need in our community and decided to start this foundation all those years ago. We are all very proud of being a part of its longevity and success,” Bryan said.
Organizations can apply for funds from now until October 31, 2017. To apply, contact Trochmann at 406-329-2021, or by email at email@example.com.
To learn more, visit: foundation.prumt.com.