Haywood realtors lend a helping hand

Volunteers from the Canopy Realtor Association prepare to plant a small shrub in Canton’s Sorrells Street Park on April 19. Cory Vaillancourt photo Volunteers from the Canopy Realtor Association prepare to plant a small shrub in Canton’s Sorrells Street Park on April 19. Cory Vaillancourt photo

While many real estate agents spent last Friday morning the usual way — listing homes for sellers, finding homes for buyers or taking classes to increase their knowledge of the industry — a group of nearly 30 Haywood County realtors took time out of their busy schedules to build community in the towns they call home. 

“I think all the realtors I know are involved with multiple nonprofits, are active in their churches, in their kids’ schools and sports,” said Fines Creek resident Amy Spivey, regional chair of the Canopy Housing Foundation and broker with Christie’s International. “I think it’s actually kind of who we are.” 

Spivey was one of a dozen or so who showed up to Canton’s Sorrells Street Park on April 19 to mark Realtors Care Day by collecting donated food and pet food to benefit the Community Kitchen and the Haywood County Animal Shelter, respectively.

Volunteers also mulched the park’s landscaping beds, planted new shrubs and delivered four new benches for seating around the splash pad, thanks to a $7,500 placemaking grant from the National Association of Realtors and a $500 donation from the Canopy Realtor Association.

Back in 2020, the Haywood Realtor Association merged with the much larger Charlotte-based Canopy Realtor Association, which gave Haywood’s real estate professionals greater access to educational opportunities, greater influence statewide and a cost savings that it could use to benefit the community.

“The merger with Canopy for Haywood has been extremely positive,” Spivey said.

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At the time, the HRA was only able to donate a few thousand dollars a year towards community-based beautification efforts and charitable housing upkeep — cleaning gutters, painting homes and the like.

Now, thanks in large part to the merger, they’re able to do much more. Since 2009, Canopy’s charitable arm has had a $1.2 million impact across Mecklenburg, Iredell and Haywood counties for more than 300 families and countless visitors to parks like Sorrells Street. When the HRA merged with Canopy, local realtors became part of Realtors Care Day. 

“Through the Canopy Housing Foundation, we’ve awarded over $60,000 in grants back to the community, we give three $1,000 scholarships to the Haywood County Schools Foundation and then we participate in the Realtor Care Day,” Spivey said. “And obviously this year, we were also able to secure those placemaking grants.”

Spivey said that the Foundation is currently nearing the end of a grant cycle that awards up to $5,000 to community organizations trying to address unmet housing needs, but that’s not the only way they’re working to ameliorate the impact of the nation’s affordable housing crisis on a local level. 

On the other side of the county, in a bucolic little Waynesville neighborhood tucked up near the Great Smoky Mountains Expressway, a number of other Canopy realtors slogged through mud and over coarse gravel at a Habitat for Humanity work site, putting the finishing touches on a new home.

Haywood’s Habitat for Humanity builds about three homes a year on average, with each requiring somewhere in the neighborhood of 4,000 person-hours to complete. Habitat just broke ground on one house, is nearing completion on another and plans two more in Chestnut Park over the course of the next year. While the mechanical work is usually subcontracted out, the rest of those work hours are filled by volunteers.

“We have a couple of very reliable crews that come out every week, eight to 10 people, and they’re experienced, they work very hard and very diligently, but we always have a need for volunteers,” said Jared Iraggi, Habitat’s construction manager. “It’s not super easy and I’m not sure a lot of people know that Haywood Habitat is out here building these homes and that we have an active construction site that they can come and volunteer with.”

Canopy’s volunteers were hard at work building a support platform for a storage unit, but it’s about more than simply putting in the work.

“It’s great to have Canopy out here doing this stuff,” Iraggi said. “It’s always great to have members of the community touching these houses, to let the homeowners know that they’re supported and the community has their back.” 

And that, said Canopy Vice President of Marketing and Communications Kim McMillin, is exactly the kind of community Canopy’s realtors are trying to build.

“First and foremost, our realtors are members of the community,” McMillin said. “They really do live, work and play here, and it’s important to them to be able to connect with a community that they’re passionate about — not only selling and listing homes but making that community a better place.” 

For more information on the Canopy Realtor Association’s  Realtors Care Day or to get involved, visit To learn more about Haywood Habitat for Humanity, visit

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