What started as a search for meaningful volunteer work turned into a full-blown passion for Douglas Elliman agent Diane Johnson. Elliman Insider sat down with Diane to find out why God’s Love We Deliver has a special place in her heart, how she came to be a member of the Board and how her work has helped her become a more successful real estate agent.
Elliman Insider: How do you give back to God’s Love We Deliver?
DIANE JOHNSON: We form a team for the Race To Deliver in memory of my late husband, Lee Wright. He was on the Board when he died of AIDS in 1988. We also deliver meals every Thanksgiving (and we used to also deliver every Christmas). I also participate in Authors in Kind and many other fundraisers that they do during the year. They can count on me to come!
EI: Why did you choose the organization?
DJ: I was married to Lee in 1984 and stopped working. I had extra time so I began to look for some volunteer work so I went to the Mayor’s Volunteer Action Center downtown to see what was available. I had told them that I like to cook and since GLWD was a food-based organization, they referred me to them. This was in 1986. They said that no one really wanted to get involved with anything having to do with AIDS. I met Ganga [Stone], one of the founders in late 1986. She asked me when I arrived what was on my wish list and I immediately said that I wanted to get pregnant, as I was having difficulty. Well, it took 3 months! Lee died in 1988, he was on the Board, and Ganga asked me to take his place. I have never looked back!
EI: How have you benefited from giving back?
DJ: I have benefited greatly from my relationship with GLWD. I feel that my involvement has helped instill the importance of giving back in my children. Not only have I met some wonderful people, but I am proud to be able to say that I am involved in an organization that has such a wonderful reputation. Going from feeding one person a day to the 7,500 meals delivered daily!
EI: How do you see your relationship with the organization growing?
DJ: I see my relationship growing every year since my children are out of school and living here in New York City, they have also grown up with GLWD. We are able to contribute more as a family and we are all proud to be a part of it. They will email me and say “Mom, GLWD is doing this food tasting, we should go!” Or, “Mom, we need to go to the party for the Race,” etc. It has really become a family affair since they have started taking the reins, it is not just me!
EI: How many years have you been in real estate?
DJ: 14 years
EI: Is there anything you’ve learned in this relationship that you apply to real estate?
DJ: Ganga taught me that through fear comes courage. When some friends were told that my husband died of AIDS, they would not let their children play with my son. I think that through this experience, I have grown as a broker. I was a full-time mother before getting into this business and thought that if I could go through what I did when Lee died, I could get over my fear of becoming an agent. I think that this experience has helped me keep what is truly important in perspective.
EI: If someone wanted to learn more about GLWD, who could they contact?
DJ: Emmett Findley