‘I Wanted to Do Something’: Real Estate Agents Help Ukraine

Julie Crowley, who is the president-elect of the Rotary Club of Hampton Bays and an associate broker with Saunders & Associates, holds a box of donations for Ukraine at a Rotary meeting.
Courtesy of Julie Crowley

It’s been more than two months since Russia invaded Ukraine and as we watch the devastating acts in horror many on the East End have been moved to action.

Julie Crowley, a licensed associate real estate broker at Saunders & Associates, is one of those people. As a member of the Rotary Club of Hampton Bays, she has led an effort to collect items and deliver them to the St. John the Baptist Ukrainian Catholic Church in Riverhead. When we first spoke to Crowley a month ago, the church had delivered more than 20 tons of supplies to Ukraine. That figure has more than doubled now.

“With these difficult times, people want to reach out and help. Collectively, these donations mean a lot to the people in Ukraine and their friends and relatives here on the East End,” Crowley said.

The Hampton Bays Rotary placed a collection box at Good Ground Cleaners, a member’s store. “Once the box fills up with items that our club and people of the community drop off, the items are delivered to the Ukrainian Catholic Church in Riverhead. This church delivers them to Ukraine and then once in Ukraine the items get sorted and delivered where it is needed most,” she said.

“In our business,” Crowley continued, referring to real estate, “we are so geared toward finding homes and places for people to be safe, happy and healthy — to imagine people who are being displaced … they are on a train, they are on a bus, they are walking, they are going somewhere else and not knowing where they are going. That is so unsettling to me.”

A donation box of supplies for Ukraine

Crowley has been a member for nearly six years, though she has been involved with the organization for 34 years through her husband’s longstanding involvement. She is president-elect, set to take over on July 1. Her husband is a district nominee, which means he is going to be the district governor of District 7255, which encompasses all of Long Island.

Though local work has mainly centered around promoting water safety and water sanitation, they were moved to find a way to help Ukrainians.

“I’m trying to understand what is happening there. I’m putting myself in their shoes and how I would feel. I wanted to do something physically,” Crowley explained, adding she hopes to inspire others to action.

Rotary International, the largest service organization in the world, has created an official channel for Rotary members and other donors to support relief efforts. The Rotary Foundation has designated the Disaster Response Fund, which, so far, has raised $10.5 million. Funds are being distributed to rotary districts that apply for disaster response grants, which will be used to provide relief to refugees or other victims of the crisis, including items such as water, food, shelter, medicine and clothing.

St. John the Baptist Ukrainian Catholic Church in Riverhead has been shipping supplies to Ukraine in droves thanks to donations from the community.

Rotary International consists of about 1.4 million members and 46,000 clubs all over the world that work to promote peace, fight disease and help families at risk. Focused efforts include providing clean water, sanitation, hygiene, education and more.

Crowley and her husband were just joined in the local rotary club by their daughter, Anna Crowley, who is also her partner in real estate. Together they have formed The Julie Crowley Team.

Real estate brokerages have also answered the call to donate money. Douglas Elliman matched the $50,000 raised through agents and supporters

At The Corcoran Group, fundraising took place through its initiative Corcoran Cares for a nonprofit organization called United Help Ukraine, whose mission is to receive and widely distribute donations to Ukrainians in serious need. Corcoran also matched the first $10,000 collected.

Brown Harris Stevens sponsored a fundraising effort with the International Rescue Committee and made a $10,000 contribution with a goal of raising $40,000 from our agents, staff and network. So far, it’s raised a bit over $43,175.