Charity Begins At Home: Mara Navaretta To Be Honored For Philanthropy

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Variety Child Learning Center 2018 Children & Families Honoree Mara Navaretta (Photo by Dave Gil de Rubio)

A community is only as strong as local leaders who choose to help the less fortunate. If that’s the case, then Syosset is fortunate to call Realtor Mara Navaretta their own. The founder of Homes by Mara was recently recognized by the Variety Child Learning Center (VCLC) as its 2018 Children & Families Honoree for its annual Variety Night. The honor is merited given Navaretta’s munificence that’s found her making regular contributions to the Children’s Brain Tumor Foundation (CBTF) and taking part in various events involving The Ashley Wade Foundation, including its Jake’s Jammies pajama drive for children suffering chronic illness. Additionally, her agency has sponsored numerous coat and toy drives, including one following Superstorm Sandy, and she most recently held a clothing and gift card drive to help multiple families regain belongings that they lost from a four-alarm fire that destroyed their Woodbury homes. This nod by the VCLC is something that means the world to Navaretta.

“I am very humbled to be selected as Variety Child Learning Center’s Champion of Children & Families honoree for its Variety Night,” she said. “Whenever I support a cause or initiate outreach to make a difference I do so because I feel it is important that we as businesses do what we can to give back to others who are in need in whatever way possible. I do not do it seeking that pat on the back; however, it is so nice to be receiving this recognition as I hope it will inspire other businesses to get more involved with giving back to their communities and getting involved with special causes that may be near and dear to their hearts.”

It’s that kind of sentiment that led to Mitch Parker, owner of Minuteman Press of Syosset, nominating Navaretta as the VCLC Champion of Children and Families honoree.

“Mara has always been very visible on Long Island,” he said. “There is no cause that she won’t take on. Mara is a constant presence throughout Syosset and its surrounding communities who is always looking for ways to make a difference in the lives of people in need. Not only does she help individuals in need, but she also supports businesses in the community like myself. As a business owner who has known Mara for nearly 10 years, she has attended many of my networking functions and I owe a significant portion of my business success to her and her husband John, as well as their referrals.”

Chalk this empathy up to Navaretta not only growing up poor in Plainview as a child of divorce, but her prior life as a social worker whose primary focus was the mentally ill. Having graduated from Stony Brook with a liberal arts degree, she looked to help out others, until the emotional burden became too much for her to carry.

“I left Stony Brook knowing I was going to be a social worker. I wanted to get my master’s and have my own business. My aunt is a social worker in Massachusetts and has her own private practice and that’s kind of what I was looking to do—to help people and kids who went through their parents divorcing,” she explained. “Everything that I dealt with when I was young—I got through it and now I want to help the kids get through that stage of their lives. But I’d go home, cry and bring home their problems and not get past it. It got to a point where my manager said social work wasn’t for everyone. I said that I wanted to help. But to work with people that have such severe problems, she said that wasn’t for me.”

Navaretta changed gears and after starting out selling skin care products and vitamins, she got her realtor’s license. After rising through the ranks at the East Norwich office of Daniel Gale and RE/MAX, she struck out on her own in 2010, buttressed by the encouragement of her husband, John. Eight years later, she owns the building her business is in and has a team of 50 agents under her. Navaretta’s life has been a whirlwind and one that she’s both humbled by and grateful for. It’s the Woodbury resident’s relentless positivity in whatever she’s faced that’s made giving back so important to her.

“I totally believe that remaining positive is important—if there’s negativity in the office, I always say, ‘cancel, cancel, cancel.’ I don’t want that in my head. I don’t want anything negative in my head,” she said. “I only want to train my mind to be positive. A lot of that also comes from doing things that are good for other people. I believe that what you give is what you get back, which is why we’re so philanthropic here.”

The VCLC Variety Night fundraising dinner will be held on Friday, April 27 at Woodbury’s Crest Hollow Country Club. Contact Mindy Knaffo at 516-921-7171. ext. 2144 or email events@vclc.org for more information.

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