YUKON — Here's a story Genie Vinson won't tell you herself:
A gentleman stranded in Yukon, unable to afford a $100 part to fix his car, was referred to Compassionate Hands, the outreach organization formed 20 years ago by the Yukon Ministerial Alliance to provide aid on a case-by-case basis to Yukon's neediest cases.
But it was a tough month. Compassionate Hands, a nonprofit that operates on donations and grants, was down to its last $24.
“Thank goodness Genie happened to drive by,” said Theresa Sanders, director of Compassionate Hands since 2007.
Vinson, apprised of the situation, paid for the part herself and got the man on his way.
“Genie is always willing to help,” Sanders said.
Sanders said Vinson personally solicits “thousands of dollars a year” in donations for the agency. “When you live on donations, you need dedicated volunteers” like Vinson, she said.
Vinson, a 28-year veteran Realtor and an associate with Keller Williams Realty in Yukon, said she's just proud that Compassionate Hands can make a difference in so many lives.
Her fellow Realtors recognized her dedication to the organization late last year with the Open Door Award presented by the Oklahoma Association of Realtors.
The award is presented to Realtors who “give unselfishly to improve the world around them through community service,” said Joe Pryor, president of the association and an associate with Redbud Realty & Associates in Edmond. The Realtors group presented the $1,000 award to Compassionate Hands in Vinson's name.
Vinson has served multiple terms on the Compassionate Hands board, in addition to knocking on doors and working the phones when the organization's two annual fundraisers roll around.
One fundraiser, Play Your Best Cards, was Feb. 15 at Yukon's First United Methodist Church — “BYOC,” bring your own cards or other games. Participants were treated to kolaches made by the United Methodist Women group. Several Yukon businesses sponsored the event, providing lunch, snacks and tickets for some who might not have otherwise been able to attend.
“We did really well,” Sanders said, with increased participation and donations over last year's event.
Next up is the Stiletto Fun Run, scheduled for May 2 in Yukon. In 2012 the event brought in more than $8,000 in donations — “thanks to Genie,” Sanders said.
“We're hoping to top $10,000 this year,” she added.
Vinson said that she was attracted to Compassionate Hands because “they want to help people stuck in a cycle” to get out of it through counseling, budgeting classes and other practical outreach measures.
“It's just like I always tried to teach my own kids,” said Vinson, who raised her two sons in Yukon and now has seven grandchildren and 10 great-grandchildren.
“I have a lot of boys,” Vinson added with a chuckle.
Vinson said real estate has been a good career for her.
“I've never been a 9-to-5 person,” she said.
She earned her real estate license and started working for Marolyn Pryor Realtors during what Vinson called “the height of the bust” of the mid-1980s.
“Some of my listings had birthdays,” she recalled about houses that sat on the market for more than a year.
Vinson said she “learned fast” how to handle lender-owned properties, wading through years' worth of depressed inventory, always with the vision “to rebuild the community.”
To this day, Vinson considers working as a Realtor her way of serving the Yukon community.
She spent a recent morning preparing a new listing at 1600 King's Gate Court, a 2,800-square foot home built in 1994 that she said features “tons of storage” and a backyard putting green.
The four-bedroom, four-bath, light-filled home is built around a spacious, granite-topped kitchen and an open living room-dining room with fireplace. The two-story house has two bedrooms downstairs, including a giant master suite. The upstairs bedrooms are linked to a central game room with wet bar, opening up to a deck with a view over the backyard.
The home will list “right at $100 a square foot.”
Vinson said that Yukon “did not participate” in the recession of the past several years, experiencing instead “a steady real estate market” throughout, although, she said, some buyers are still having trouble getting qualified for the financing they need.