Vivian Risi inspires others through community activism
When Vivian Risi joined real estate empire Royal LePage in 1999 as the broker and owner of the York Region office in Toronto, she never expected that her community activism would intertwine with her professional life.
So, when the franchisee discovered that the organization had created the Royal LePage Shelter Foundation to support and fund women’s shelters, she was elated the company valued a cause close to her heart.
“When I first learned about the Shelter Foundation, I thought it was such a unique idea,” Risi says. “I had never heard of a real estate organization that had an internal fundraising initiative as large and as successful as this.”
With the help of their real estate agents, franchisees, and staff, the Royal LePage Shelter Foundation has raised over $24 million for 200 women’s shelters and violence prevention initiatives, supporting more than 30,000 women and children each year since 1998.
For her part, Risi has been giving back to her local women’s shelter since the late 1980s, donating money, food, and clothing to women and children in need whenever possible.
“Domestic abuse really is a silent issue because not many people want to discuss it,” Risi says. “For me, it was a quest to help in some capacity to raise awareness.”
Her contributions to the cause haven’t gone unnoticed either. In 2008, Risi became the Chair for the Yellow Brick House Capital Campaign and was tasked with raising $4 million for a second house in Toronto’s York Region. Through crisis hot lines, shelters, and educational services, the Yellow Brick House empowers abused women and children to help them live safer lives.
“The world economy came to a halt in 2008, so raising this money was a huge challenge for me,” Risi says. “It took a little longer than I anticipated, but with the help of the Royal LePage management team, my realtors and friends we were able to meet our challenge and the second house is up and successfully running today.”
For Risi, charitable giving has always been a part of her life and far exceeds her contributions to local shelters. The franchisee supports more than 30 charities across the Greater Toronto Area, and is a member of various charitable organizations, including the Toronto and York Region United Way, and Amnesty International.
Her personal contributions have even made an impact among her employees and clients as her office walls hold plaques and photos from various charity events. Risi says her real estate business and the charities she participates in go hand and hand as they both build communities.
“Giving back is not something I take for granted,” she says. “I am fortunate enough that I can contribute to my community and change people’s lives for the better, and that is something I am extremely proud of.”
Her upbeat attitude and continued drive to give back is something Royal LePage hopes to instill in all franchise partners. Giving back is ingrained in the company’s culture, and Risi says the Royal LePage team is always excited to collectively work together to help others in need.
Risi plans to continue to support others throughout 2018 and even get involved in new charities. “The passion is there,” she says. “There’s not one charity that’s more important than another. I hope I can continue to work hard, give back, and encourage new agents that join Royal LePage to get involved as well.”