Joel Holland is passionate about finding people homes. In his work as a brokerage manager at Homescout Realty, he helps prospective renters and buyers find places to live and plan for the future, and in a great deal of his spare time, he serves organizations that provide people with less literal but equally as important homes.
In October, Holland added another accolade to go with his 2012 Double Chai in the Chi honor when he received the first ever young alumni award from the Chabad at the University of Illinois, an unusual accomplishment for someone who had only been there once as a student and doesn't identify as Orthodox. In fact, Holland said it wasn't until he began participating in a Jewish prospective class with Rabbi Ezra Belsky three years ago that he even began to get in touch with his Judaism.
"I wish I had the opportunity on campus to have more involvement and more understanding of my identity and someone to be a role model and a mentor," Holland said.
Through a roommate and fraternity brother, Holland got to know Rabbi Dovid Tiechtel of the Illinois Chabad and said he became interested in what his mission was on campus. For the last two years he has sat on the Chabad's advisory committee helping the organization with fundraising. He said he hopes he can be an example of how young professionals can get involved in organizations that really impact future leaders, the young adults who Holland says will be the Double Chai in the Chi honorees 5 to 10 years from now.
"Being honored will hopefully be a wake-up call, a call to action, or just an awareness campaign, if you will, for alumni to get involved and to support campus programs to help kids find a home away from home," he said.
Holland also tries to provide support to others in his working life. His professional Facebook page is titled "My Chicago Resource is Joel Holland," because he wants to let people know he's "a trusted resource for anyone's long-term real estate needs," whether you're a prospective client or someone who is just looking for some information.
If you do become one of Holland's Jewish clients, however, you can expect your very first housewarming gift to be a mezuzah.
"I want to make sure I'm creating Jewish households as well," he said.
Although Holland specializes in places to live, his biggest passion is traveling. He has plans to visit Thailand this month.