Editor’s Note: Jeremy Lichtenstein was just announced as a winner in the 2018 NAR Good Neighbor Awards. His organization, KIND, will receive a $10,000 grant and will be featured in the November/December issue of REALTOR® Magazine. Lichtenstein has also been invited to accept his award in front of thousands of his peers at the 2018 REALTORS® Conference & Expo in Boston, November 2-5, 2018.
By Amanda Derengowski // Photography by Dan Schreiber
In 2012, Jeremy Lichtenstein was shocked to learn that in his market of Montgomery County, Md., one of the richest counties in the U.S., more than 44,000 schoolchildren were in the Free and Reduced Meal (FARM) program (today, that number is even more staggering – 55,000 schoolchildren, or 35% of kids attending Montgomery County Schools). Lichtenstein’s biggest concern: What happens on Saturdays and Sundays, when there’s no school and no school meal for kids to count on?
The top producer with RE/MAX Realty Services in Bethesda was moved to action and founded a nonprofit called Kids in Need Distributors (KIND) to help. In its first year the organization provided 75,000 meals to kids to help keep their stomachs full through the weekend. Thanks to the passion of Lichtenstein and a team of volunteers, the effort has grown immensely. During the 2017-2018 school year, the program provided 248,000 meals to over 2,000 students.
“In some ways, I feel more passionate about the food program than my business,” says Lichtenstein, who drops off supplies at participating schools every six weeks. “The only way my business stays healthy is if my community is healthy first.”
Long before Lichtenstein was an award-winning RE/MAX agent (he’s been named the No.1 agent in Maryland for most of the past 10 years, consistently makes the U.S. Top 100 Individual Agents list and is a Circle of Legends inductee), he earned a modest living running a landscape company and Christmas tree lot.
Even then, he’d always donate at least 25 percent of his income from the lot to homeless shelters.
“You have to give back,” he says. “It’s not about what you can make, but the difference you can make in people’s lives, whether it’s helping them find a home or make it through a tough time in their lives.”
Lichtenstein’s been involved in a number of charities over the years, and only recently found the one he’s most passionate about. He modeled KIND after a friend’s similar effort. Lichtenstein is always open to learning and adapting others’ great ideas for his own purposes.
“I don’t re-create the wheel,” he says. “I just figure out how to push it farther down the road.”