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Personal relationships key to YM/WREA success.

In this age of e-mail, voice-mail and instant messaging, direct personal contact is more meaningful than ever. For professionals in the commercial real estate industry, the opportunity to share information in a collegial environment and also participate in activities that benefit the community and the city as a whole can be found at one place: The meetings and special events of the Young Men's/Women's Real Estate Association of New York (YM/WREA).

YM/WREA occupies a special place in the landscape of professional organizations. Where some are dedicated specifically to networking or lobbying or credentialing or educating, YM/WREA is the only association that blends equal parts social, educational and philanthropic to round out the careers of its up-and-coming membership.

"Commercial real estate is an intensely challenging business set in a fiercely competitive environment. In this setting, it's important to have a safe haven where dedicated professionals can gather and benefit from the company of their like-minded peers," says Vincent J. Terranova, YM/WREA's chairman. "We have a unique position in the industry, and work hard through our various committees, programs and events to expand our horizons and better serve our members and the greater community."

Founded more than 50 years ago by young real estate professionals home from World War II and seeking a social outlet to share market information and career advice, YM/WREA has a collective spirit that remains its philosophical core. Through well-attended monthly luncheons--where one is as likely to be seated next to a third-generation owner as a first-generation leasing whiz--and cocktail parties, the annual golf! tennis summer outing and other parties, members and their guests catch up on industry news, as well as personal information that changes the nature of day-to-day business.

"Friendships forged through YM/WREA break down barriers and help build careers," Terranova says. "Despite all the spread sheets and balance sheets, real estate remains a relationship-driven business, and YM/WREA helps young professionals build life-long relationships with some of the most influential figures in our industry."

Legends like Lew Rudin, Ed Gordon, Henry Ashforth, Wylie Tuttle and John Malino and many others are just some of the leaders who were committed to YM/WREA. Today's meetings are equally magnetic, attracting most of the young leadership of all of the city's largest and most important real estate companies.

And this year, the organization has scheduled some unique gatherings, intended to blend the social with the socially responsible. For instance, in April, YM/WREA sent more than 25 of its members to the Bedford Stuyvesant neighborhood of Brooklyn to work with Habitat for Humanity on construction of a house. "I think we picked the coldest, wettest day of the year to undertake this project, and yet it was also one of the most enjoyable and rewarding activities we've ever done," remembers Sarah K. Cohn, the organization's vice chairman. "For those of us who deal in bricks-and-mortar all day, this was a different kind of real estate experience--one that enabled us to put our civic mission into action while allowing us to share time together as a group. It was an all-around winning situation."

This year also marked the first time YM/WREA provided a $10,000 donation to support scholarships and projects by the Salvadori Center, a not-for-profit organization which inspires New York's public middle school children to learn using the built environment, including construction projects, bridges, office buildings, skyscrapers and architectural plans. YM/WREA is also organizing tours and lectures for Salvadori's students that take advantage of the membership's access to important sites that shape the City.

"Through initiatives like the Habitat for Humanity house building, Salvadori Center, our blood drive and other actions, we are able to flex our membership's impressive collective muscle for the good of the City," Terranova says. "There's no question that we are able to help our industry as a whole, too."

With current membership at approximately 400--divided among "members" and "senior members" (those over 50)--YM/WREA does have a lot of muscle to flex. In the fall, when monthly meetings kick off again (starting. in September), a new round of potential members will be introduced to the organization through invitation from existing members.

"All our traditions are collegial, including invitations to seek membership," explains Stuart D. Arkin, membership chairman. "Current members who have a clear view of the landscape of their companies are able to seek out and welcome those peers who they feel can both benefit from YM/WREA and be a benefit to YM/WREA. This tradition provides insures that the very best candidates are introduced to YM/WREA, and that the organization itself is infused with new energy and ideas every season."

It's this combination of new energy with traditions of friendship and professional respect that help YM/WREA endure.

"In some ways, we're always looking to change and grow and better serve our membership, the industry and the larger community," Terranova says. "At the same time, we're pretty proud of our traditions and we're glad to play the same, important role for our peers that we have for more than half a century."
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Title Annotation:Young Men's/Women's Real Estate Association
Publication:Real Estate Weekly
Article Type:Brief Article
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Aug 7, 2002
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