Realtor is finalist for national volunteering award

Longtime Northeast Florida Association of Realtors (NEFAR) member MaliVai Washington, a former ATP Tour star and a Realtor with Diamond Life Realty, has been selected as one of 10 finalists for the National Association of Realtors (NAR) 2022 Good Neighbor Award.

A Realtor for more than 25 years, Washington was selected for his dedication to the MaliVai Youth Foundation, a nonprofit that works to break the cycle of poverty through a vibrant after-school mentoring program and tennis instruction in the Durkeeville neighborhood of Jacksonville.

Each year, NAR recognizes Realtors throughout the United States who have made an extraordinary impact on their communities through volunteer work. All nominees were judged on their personal contribution of time as well as financial and material contributions to benefit their cause.

Ten finalists are selected with five Realtors eventually winning $10,000 grants for the charities they support, including an article in the fall edition of Realtor Magazine. The winners will also receive travel expenses to the conference and be recognized at the NAR Conference & Expo, which is now called NAR NXT. The conference will take place in Orlando from Nov. 11-13, and the winners will be honored both during the general sessions as well as during a special Good Neighbor Award dinner on Nov. 12.

From now through Oct. 3, the public is invited to go online and vote for MaliVai Washington as their “Web Choice Favorite” of the 10 NAR Good Neighbor finalists. The three finalists with the most votes will receive more than $1,000 in bonus grant money for their nonprofits.


To vote go to realtor.com/goodneighbor. Information about NAR’s Good Neighbors may be found at nar.realtor/gna. The “Web Choice Award” winners as well as the five 2022 Good Neighbor Award winners will be announced Oct. 6.

A former tennis pro who has competed in ATP competitions all over the globe, Washington, a Ponte Vedra Beach resident, once attained a career-high ranking of 11th in the world. In tennis, he represented the United States in the 1996 Atlanta Olympics and was runner-up at Wimbledon the same year.

His charitable work centers around the MaliVai Washington Youth Foundation, a nonprofit that he established in 1994, first as a grant-writing foundation for underprivileged children and later as a place where underserved kids would be provided with tennis and academic instruction in Durkeeville, which is considered by many to be one of the “deadliest neighborhoods” in Jacksonville.

In 2008, Washington’s foundation opened its youth center and tennis complex after raising $3.8 million. The facility allowed him to expand his foundation’s after-school programming and begin offering summer camps. In 2020, the foundation opened its Club 904 Teen Center after raising $5 million. The new center, which is located across the street from the youth center and tennis complex, provides teens with a space of their own and has allowed the nonprofit to increase its capacity.

Today, the MaliVai Washington Youth Foundation serves low-income youth both after-school and during the summer with academic assistance, life skills, tennis instruction, college and career preparation, mental health counseling, scholarships and leadership training. Now serving 500 kids annually, Washington is proud of the foundation’s 100% high school graduation rate within the program as the surrounding neighborhood’s dropout rate is 20%.

“MaliVai has gone above and beyond to help build stronger communities and improve the lives of people across this country,” said NAR President Leslie Rouda Smith. “His determination and selfless commitment embody everything that we strive for as Realtors and as compassionate members of our community. I’m proud of MaliVai and the rest of this year’s Good Neighbor Award finalists for devoting hundreds of hours of their personal time to these important causes.”

In 2007, Washington received an honorable mention in NAR’s Good Neighbor program as one of the 10 finalists and took home a $2,500 grant and a $500 Lowes gift card. He was also profiled in the November 2007 issue of Realtor Magazine. At that time, Washington was selected from more than 350 semi-finalists.

NAR’s Good Neighbor Awards were launched in 2000 and have since recognized nearly 200 Realtors for their service to their communities. Through Good Neighbor Award grants and associated programs, Realtor-led Good Neighbor charities have received more than $1 million in donations.

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