Mayfair International Realty members, Dale Sorensen Real Estate, is known mainly as a home and condominium sales powerhouse, with some 80 agents closing more than $440 million in 2013 sales in Indian River County and North Hutchinson Island, but the family-owned agency is equally notable for the extent of its community involvement and charitable giving.
The company, its agents and members of the Sorensen family – company founder Dale Sr., his wife Matilde and their children Dale Jr. and Elizabeth – donate time and money to medical, educational and religious charities, artistic and cultural organizations, and many groups that help children in all sorts of way, including Big Brothers Big Sisters, Children's Home Society, Hibiscus Children's Center, Gifford Youth Activity Center, Boys and Girls Club, Youth Sailing Foundation, Riverside Children’s Theater, St. Jude’s Children's Hospital and March of Dimes.
“They are very, very generous people,” says Marta Schneider, a longtime Children’s Home Society board member and past board chair. “They care about children and what happens to them.”
The Children’s Home Society of Florida provides critical services to kids coming out of foster care and other teens struggling to finish high school under difficult circumstances.
“Our Youth Transition Center houses and mentors 12 youth who have aged out of foster care and provides services to 40 more – things like job counseling, life skills training, mental and physical healthcare and academic support,“ Schneider says. “Our other facility here, Baines Hall, houses homeless youth who are trying to get through high school.
“Elizabeth Sorensen has served on committees for us and the company supports all our events as a sponsor. They have been with us for at least ten years and it has been a wonderful relationship.”
“Having grown up here, you have a vested interest in the community,” says Managing Partner Dale Sorensen Jr. “The organizations and charities we support make the community better and we have always felt it is just a part of our business to be involved.”
When the Sorensens moved many years ago from their original office, located at the intersection of A1A and Beachland where the U.S. Trust is today, they donated the building to The Samaritan Center, a Catholic charity that assists homeless families.
Matilde and others raised money to move the building to its current location on 41st St. north of airport, where it remains in use today.
“We use it every day, “says Program Administrator Tracey Segal. “It houses two offices, a kitchen and a conference room.”
Organizations that fight cancer and help cancer patients are another focus of the Sorensen’s philanthropy.
“The Sorensens and their agents are very giving people,” says Carole Plante, co-chair of Answer to Cancer, a group of about 200 organized in the Grand Harbor community to assist cancer patients receiving radiation and chemotherapy in Indian River County.
“We raise about $60,000 a year, mainly through our Dine and Nine event, a dinner and golf fundraiser. We work with the Hospital Foundation to decide how to use the money. Two years ago, we did over the lobby of the radiation center and made it much nicer and more comfortable for patients. Last year we put $105,000 into the infusion center with the same aim of improving patient comfort at a very difficult time.”
Sally Baskin, one of Sorensen’s agents has supported us for seven years and the company helps us, too. I asked them if they could up their sponsorship a little bit this year to put more money toward the comfort of the patients and they immediately said yes. They are wonderful people.”
Last Friday, Sorensen Real Estate set up a tent and tables and chairs in front of its Cardinal Dr. office to serve soup made and donated by its agents and local restaurants to support the American Cancer Society, a research, treatment and advocacy organization. It was a fun, festive event that drew a good lunchtime crowd and raised $915 for ACS.
“We do mini fundraisers for the American Cancer Society throughout the year, “says Sorensen Director of Marketing and Technology Jennifer Bailey.
“The soup buffet is something we do when weather is cold. Our agents provide different types of soups and bread and we open it up to the public and invite friends, family and neighbors to come and have soup. The price is whatever donation people want to give and all the money we raise goes to ACS Relay for Life.”
The company sells candy at the front desks of its three Vero offices, holds periodic fundraisers and fields a team for the annual Relay for Life walk with the goal of raising $10,000 for ACS during the year.
“It isn’t a massive fundraiser,” Dale Sorensen Jr. says of last week‘s soup buffet event, “but it really shows the culture of giving back we have at our office. Owners, agents, and staff are all on board and it truly is a rewarding feeling knowing we are an office of caring agents that excel at more than just real estate.”
Members of the Sorensen family devote considerable personal time and resources to charitable and community causes – besides helping the Children’s Home Society, Elizabeth Sorensen was co-chair of the 2013 Festival of Trees that raises funds for Riverside Children’s Theatre, and Dale Jr. heads out to sea each year to catch fish for fish tacos that are sold at the Relay for Life event – but he emphasizes the central role of his agents in the company’s charity juggernaut.
“The agents often bring charity initiatives to us and I remember one year when they voted not to have a Christmas party so the money that would have paid for the party could be used to help children at Fellsmere Elementary school.”
Sorensen agent Bill Baysura recalls how that came about:
“My wife Kelly was the assistant principal at Fellsmere from 2005 until 2010, when she was promoted to the principal position at Liberty Magnet School. Approaching Christmas of 2006, there were several children who came to school without warm clothing and mentioned that they were hungry. One of the students was asked by her teacher why her homework wasn't complete. The little girl said that she didn't have enough time to do her homework before she fell asleep because someone else was using the only candle that was giving the family enough light to see during the late evening.
“I shared this story with Dale Junior, Joan Cook and other agents in our office and asked if I could bring up the subject of assisting needy children in Fellsmere at our weekly meeting.
“By the end of the meeting, I believe I had three personal checks made out to the elementary school. Within two hours, I had 10 e-mails, if not more, with offers of cash, toys, household items, furniture, clothing, food and more. Cash donations were used to help families turn on their electricity come current with the rent payments and buy other food and household items that were so desperately needed at that time.”
As Christmas approached and agents became more aware of the degree of need they voted to forgo their big annual holiday bash so the money could go to help children and families in Fellsmere.
“The Christmas party is a special event the agents really enjoy and for them to give it up for somebody else was really tremendous,” says Matilde Sorensen.
“Kelly Baysura isn’t at Fellsmere elementary anymore, but we haven’t let go of that connection,” says Dale Jr. “We did a food drive for the school this Christmas.”
“One thing that I've never mentioned to anyone outside of my own family, was that Mr. Sorensen told me to find out how many children were without a Christmas gift for that year [in 2006],” Bill Baysura says. “I was able to give him a final number and without any hesitation he wrote a check to ensure that every child had a Christmas gift to open.
“I can honestly say that the actions by the Sorensen family and those who are affiliated with our company are a big reason I will never work for another broker in Indian River County. They lead by example, walk quietly and give more than any company or affiliation I have worked with in my professional career.”
“My dad realized at a young age that giving back to the community is necessary,” says Dale Jr. “That has trickled down to my sister and me. Dad was very involved with St. Ed’s and the hospital board when I was pretty young and I was impressed by that. He has led the way.”
“When I became Headmaster of St. Edward's School in 1966, I quickly realized the significance of community support,” Dale Sorensen Sr. says. “As you look at our community today with its exceptional medical facilities, incredible Riverside Theater, outstanding Museum and countless other exceptional programs, it is apparent that stewardship has played an important role in the quality of life we enjoy. Giving back to the community is for us a family commitment.”
ORGANIZATIONS AND CHARITIES SUPPORTED BY DALE SORENSEN REAL ESTATE
America Serving Veterans Foundation
American Cancer Society
Answer to Cancer Golf Tournament
Big Brothers Big Sisters
Boys and Girls Club
Brevard Children in Need
Brian Simpson Walk in Memory of Brian
Children's Art Contest
Children's Home Society
Christian Surfers Association
Disabled American Veterans
Florida Hands & Voices
Gifford Youth Activity Center
Habitat for Humanity
Harvest Food and Outreach Center
Hibiscus Children's Center
Holy Cross Church
Indian River Community Foundation
Indian River Hospital Foundation
Indian River Land Trust
Indian River Medical Center Foundation
Indian River County School - Art Contest
John's Island Foundation
Mangrove Garden Foundation
March of Dimes
Mardy Fish Foundation
Moorings Educational Foundation
Quail Valley Charities
Quail Valley Charity Cup
Riverside Children's Theatre
Rotary Club of Sebastian
Scholarship Foundation of Indian River County
Special Olympics of Indian River County
St. Edwards Lacrosse Program
St. Edward's School
St. Edwards School Gala
St. Helens Catholic School
St. Jude’s Children's Hospital
Vero Beach Ambulance
Vero Beach Fire Department
Vero Beach Museum of Art
Vero Beach Theatre Guild
Vero Beach Volunteer Fire Department
VNA & Hospice Foundation
VNA of the Treasure Coast
Young Professionals of IRC
Youth Sailing Foundation
Source: List supplied by Dale Sorensen Real Estate