The Canadian mortgage community is a tight-knit group where professional and charitable initiatives are often closely connected. For some, undertaking benevolent activities is best achieved on a personal level, while others pay it forward through collective co-operation. Such is the case with 100 Brokers Who Care (BWC), a charitable organization made up of dedicated and compassionate mortgage professionals who donate and raise funds for charities across the country. Spearheading this inspiring initiative is founding member Sabeena Bubber, a mortgage broker with Xeva Mortgage in North Vancouver. We chatted with Sabeena to learn more about the impetus behind the organization and the importance of helping make a difference in the lives of those less fortunate.
Why did you become a volunteer with this particular charity and why is it important for you to give back?
In 2015, my girlfriend Wendy experienced the heart-breaking loss of her six-year old daughter and ex-husband in a tragic drowning accident. As a single, self-employed mother, she was traumatized by the loss of her daughter and struggled to determine how she would pay for funeral expenses, let alone her rent as she was unable to work. I ran a GoFundMe page and was overwhelmed with the amount of support received from the broker community. Fully $7,000 of the $35,000 raised came from mortgage brokers across Canada who read my plea for support.
I realized at that time that there would be other mortgage brokers across Canada with similar stories of friends, family and community members who could also use financial support. From there, 100 BWC was born. As a rule, 100 BWC collects $100 per quarter from members of the mortgage industry. Every quarter, members nominate a worthy cause or charity in need and subsequently vote on who should receive the funds. The charity is based upon the “100 who care alliance” model. One hundred percent of the donated funds are given to those in need, and all of the organizational work is done by volunteers, including Jackson Middleton and his team at Kilted Media; Jason Henneberry, Brad Lister and Doc Assist help with the payments. Our board, which is comprised of myself, Jackson Middleton, Marci Deane, Drew Donaldson, Jason Henneberry and Frances Hinojosa, helps make decisions on behalf of the organization. Simon Biancardi is the legal counsel who holds the donations in trust until they are needed.
What is the most rewarding aspect of volunteering?
The most rewarding aspect is seeing the impact that the funds have on the families in need. I have seen first-hand, from personally delivering a cheque, the positive affect the money can have and how it can help with simple things that people are struggling to afford. We have also contributed to Canadian Mental Health after a mortgage broker in our community took his own life. There are so many heart-warming stories behind each donation, it’s hard to narrow it down to one significant thing. The reward is in helping people and having the mortgage community across Canada see how we are making a difference in the lives of those in need.
What does people’s support mean to you?
The support of people in the mortgage community across the country who share in the vision of helping families and charities has been humbling. It’s one thing to have the “idea” of raising funds, but many brokers are already contributing through their time and financial donations in areas close to them, which is amazing. We have grown our membership beyond 100 and are now trying to split the group into chapters. We are working on creating an eastern chapter and a western chapter so that the money raised in eastern Canada will stay in the region, likewise for the west. The more we grow, the more we give.
How do you raise awareness of the charity in the community?
100 BWC is mainly promoted online through Facebook and through word of mouth. Because 100 percent of the money received is donated to those in need, there is no “advertising” budget, other than recognition at industry events.
How does money raised impact or assist the charity?
All the money raised goes to the individuals or families which are selected to receive the funds by the members of 100 BWC.
We recently helped the following families:
- The Glovers are a hard-working family of five residing on 120 acres about 20 minutes west of Nanton, Alta. John and Andrea are both self employed. John is a farmer and Andrea, a mortgage broker since 2008, is licensed with a brokerage in High River, Alta. John has been diagnosed with stage three pancreatic cancer with no guarantees of the success of his treatments, nor an end in sight for their financial struggles.
- Ella Mucha was diagnosed with leukemia when she was two. The financial burden on parents Alyssa and Dustin has been significant. They were told the disease is curable but they need to stay on a strict plan.. Due to Ella having no immune system, they have to live in a bubble, which means Alyssa cannot work and stays at home as Ella’s primary care giver. One infection or illness could cost Ella her life.
- Another recipient is a single mother who is raising and home schooling her son. She was recently diagnosed with cancer and had to stop working as she was unable to walk. As a result of the cancer treatments, she has struggled to manage daily activities, and her ability to work. It is important that she is able to focus on healing so she can raise her son.
- The Sandoval family received a donation from 100 BWC after Kelly Sandoval sacrificed her life selflessly to ensure the safety of one of her children. She heroically threw herself in harm’s way and prevented their youngest son from being struck by a rampaging pickup truck. Kelly left behind her husband and four sons. Her husband, self employed, had a difficult time looking after the boys (all under the age of 16) and running his landscaping business at the same time.
What other charities are you involved in?
As part of my mortgage practice, for every mortgage that I complete, I send a donation to the B.C. Children’s Hospital. This is one other way that I like to make a difference.
What advice would you give to other people who are thinking about getting involved in a charity and community activities?
My entire career as a mortgage broker, I have been looking for ways to give back, and simply writing a cheque didn’t feel like it was having much of an impact. By starting 100 BWC, I get to see the impact of the donated funds, and members who nominate a family or cause have the honour of delivering the funds directly, which gives them a great feeling of satisfaction. My advice would be that if you have a vision of helping, don’t feel overwhelmed by the idea. Every time that I thought I couldn’t continue with raising funds for 100 BWC, someone was there to help out and give me words of encouragement. By the end of 2019, our group will have donated over $100,000 since the program’s inception. This is thanks to the vision and support of everyone involved and I thank every member who is a part of this group!
Despite the name, the 100 BWC is in no way limited to 100 brokers, nor limited to any one person, group or franchise: It is open to all industry participants. The overarching purpose is to bring members of the entire mortgage broker community together with the common goal of helping those in need. By doing so, the hope is to create a deep-rooted legacy so that regardless of who is on the board or spearheading the group, the positive effects of communal kindness will live on for years to come.
This article first appeared in 2019, Issue 4 of Perspectives magazine, first published in November 2019 by Mortgage Professionals Canada.