It’s very unusual for “Real Estate Salesperson” to be the first and only title on an agent’s CV. Becoming a real estate agent requires an entrepreneurial spirit and a level of confidence that nine-times-out-of-ten comes from having been around the block a least once. We celebrate this! At Coldwell Banker Village Green Realty the diversity of our experiences and the different things that motivate us create a vibrant culture where we learn from one another. And our passions! Many of us are involved in community organizations; we’ve got people who spend their free time being fitness coaches, agents involved in their community libraries, community choir singers, PTA parents and Meals On Wheels volunteers.
Real Estate Salesperson Zachary Petrocca joined us less than a year ago and he fits right in. Zack is a fundraiser for the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention and recently hosted a Community Night and Fundraiser at Crossroads Brewing Company’s Catskill Taproom, with 100% of the registration and raffle profits donated to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention. We played corn hole, laughed a lot, and enjoyed some food truck fare. We also came to know the reasons for Zack’s support of the Foundation and for his choice of career. Zack is 100% about giving people hope, joy, and an understanding that they are not alone, 100% about being part of a community. When he was 12, his 14-year-old sister committed suicide. Zack’s family found hope through helping others. He shared his story with us in a speech at the event – we’re so proud of his work in the community that we want to share it with you.
I just want to take a moment to thank everybody for coming out tonight and supporting this event in light of the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention….My connection to the foundation came after I lost my older sister Brittany in 2009, she took her life at the age of 14 - I was 12 at the time. It led me, in my coming teenage years, to question the how and the why of what happened and the reality before me. I struggled for quite some time and looking back, it was extremely difficult. I felt alone, I was very depressed, and did not see a future for myself.
Because of my experience with my sister and the experiences that followed, my family sought to help others that are going through a similar experience and provide support - because I and we know how important that was for us. Over the past 10 years, Team Brittany Marie has raised…(can I get a drumroll please)... over $145,000 for the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention and each year, we continue to outgrow the last. What I find fascinating, over the amount of money raised, is the connections between individuals that have followed. The genuine conversations, the hugs, and exchange of numbers. The level of support and compassion between family, friends, and those who used to be complete strangers but now are close friends - even considered family. This is what I believe it is all about and what drove me to host this event. I encourage you, should you not leave with a raffle basket - or even if you do, to leave with a bit more gratitude and love in your heart for yourself, your spouse, your kids, family, friends, and neighbors than when you came. It is this gratitude and love that will continue to spread throughout the community and with the amount of people we have here tonight, just imagine how impactful that could be. And for those that may be struggling, keep in mind that when we’re in a dark place, we sometimes tend to think we’ve been buried...perhaps though - we’ve been planted and eventually you start seeing changes. Your mind becomes lighter, the trees look brighter, the air you breathe begins to feel like food for new opportunities and life takes on a crisper color pattern. Ups and downs will continue to come and there’s still much to learn, but there's now a new calmness in you that does not fear the old storms and helps them pass more quickly. A new awareness arises that gently reminds you that your power is yours to wield and is ready to propel you forward into a deeper peace and liberating insight.
I want to thank our Sponsors of this event for their true generosity…a huge shoutout to Courtney and Crossroads Brewing for donating the space tonight for the event AND a percentage of their proceeds to AFSP. Thank you Tara from Fork’n Food for providing amazing food this evening and for donating a percentage of your proceeds as well, the Coldwell Banker Village Green Realty team, thank you for your tremendous support and donations, James Hearne – thank you for providing us with some great jams this evening!, and my good friends at Hyphen Foods – over at the Avalon Lounge that are also generously donating 10% of their proceeds this evening to AFSP, thank you. It’s amazing what we can accomplish when we come together as a community and I am proud to call this community my home. I want to thank you all for taking the time to come out tonight, supporting the cause, the event, donating to AFSP and cheers to all the good that lies ahead.
After the event, CBVGR’s writer Renee Samuels sat down with Zack to talk a little more about his efforts on behalf of the Foundation For Suicide Prevention and what lead him to a career in Real Estate.
CBVGR: How do you think your event at the Catskill Taproom went?
ZP: It went really well! We had a really good turnout, and it was great to connect and see everybody, especially from the Coldwell Banker team.
CBVGR: Congratulations! At the event you gave a really nice speech. Can we talk about two of your points? Your bottom line, of course, is to raise money, and you said in the past 10 years, your sister’s team, “Team Brittany Marie” has raised over $145,000, which is an impressive amount! You also talked about the spiritual part of what you’re doing, what you said about the gratitude and love that will continue to spread throughout the community and how impactful that could be even for people in the community who weren’t at the event. So, it seems like those are your two goals: to raise money and to put your message out there and have it spread in the community.
ZP: That's exactly right. My goal for the this and future events is to show everyone that you are not alone, that there are fun and exciting things that lie ahead, and resources and support if you need them. I want to create an opportunity to genuinely connect with each other, support local businesses and have some old-fashioned fun… I think a lot of people felt alone this past year.
CBVGR: Would you give us a synopsis of your story? You said your sister took her life at a very young age. How long did it take you before you were ready to open up about it and do this type of fundraising?
ZP: It took me a while. My connection to the foundation came after I lost Brittany in 2009. She was 14, I was 12, my little sister was eight. It led me in my coming teenage years to question the how and the why of what happened for some time because we don’t really get those closures. I struggled for a long period and looking back, it was extremely difficult. Because of my experience with my sister and the experiences that followed, my family sought to help others that are going through a similar experience and provide support - because I and we know how important that was for us. My mother started getting involved with the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention shortly after Brittany passed, in 2010 or so, and she’s been an active member since. She’s been doing fundraisers every single year and I believe it's through her service and dedication to the foundation that I found myself doing the same. But it did take me quite some time to get to that place. I wanted to get over the fear of putting myself out there and just do it. This was the first of many events to come, I believe.
CBVGR: We hope so too! You gave us an opportunity to get together after such a long break. And lots of us hadn’t been to Crossroads yet – it’s really fun! Was there anything in particular that made you choose Crossroads as your venue, and what made you choose the food trucks that were there?
ZP: I happened to be at Crossroads one night with my girlfriend, Claire, and we were listening to James Hearne play and eating food from the food truck, drinking a beer and watching people play corn hole, and I was like, this is the place. This is where I want to host my event. I just felt like it was a great combination of things. And Catskill is a great, hip town with a great sense of community, and it’s centrally located. You’ve got the NYS Thruway there, the Rip Van Winkle bridge, you can easily come up from Kingston and Saugerties and down from Coxsackie, and I felt that was a key point.
CBVGR: Good point! How was it putting together this type of event in Catskill compared to other places? It sounds like you worked with your mom on other events.
ZP: I wouldn't say it's easier or harder to do it in Catskill compared to other places. I just think it depends on the type of event you're looking to host, the size of the community and the marketing you choose. Doing it in Catskill wasn't difficult at all, and I think a big part of that was the support we got from the local businesses. They really helped with getting the word out.
CBVGR: By letting you put up flyers in their windows type of thing?
ZP: Exactly, and the sponsors of the event were extremely helpful by spreading awareness of the event on social media.
CBVGR: And who's been particularly supportive besides those businesses?
ZP: I think everyone's been absolutely supportive and really appreciative. Courtney from Crossroads Brewing, Tara from Fork’n Food, James Hearne, JD Eiseman and Bruce Bryant from Hyphen Foods and everyone at Coldwell Banker Village Green Realty all showed tremendous support from the start, and the support really did help me pull together what was an amazing night. Of course, there’s my family: my parents; my sister, Ashley; and my girlfriend, Claire, and her mom, Adrianne, all really, truly supportive.
CBVGR: So, the minute an event like this ends do you start thinking about the next one?
ZP: I'm taking in the lessons I learned from this one. You try to improve the experience in any way you can. It's the message I'm trying to relay as much as possible and connect with people. There are some great AFSP fundraisers going on that everyone can be part of, like the annual Out of the Darkness walk. This year the Columbia-Greene walk will be on October 2, at Dutchman’s Landing in Catskill. More events and ways to connect with the AFSP Capital Region New York Chapter can be found on their website.
CBVGR: How much of the event is devoted to talking specifically about suicide prevention?
Pictured: Leadership Members of the American Foundation For Suicide Prevention - Capital Region Chapter / Taken From Facebook.com
ZP: Sandra Goldmeer, AFSP’s Area Director in the Capital Region, was kind enough to come and set up a booth for AFSP. We had t-shirts, materials and resources, future event information and more. Towards the end of the evening, Sandra and I took a moment to speak about the Foundation and what they do, what their goals are, their resources and events they have going on.
CBVGR: I know that a bunch of the CBVGR family went home with baskets. Tell me about the businesses that helped you out with those. We want to make sure they get credit for their generosity.
ZP: Yeah, we had a bunch from the local businesses. Most were kind enough to donate a gift certificate, and we created a raffle basket around their businesses with local products. Left Bank Ciders, Crossroads Brewing, the New York Restaurant, Village Pizza, Scrub-a-Dub Car Wash and Catskill Cryo were a few of the local businesses. We had other raffles like a homeowner kit with tool sets and painting kits with a Lowe's gift card; pet baskets with dog beds, homemade treats, toys and other goodies; spa baskets, too. We also had baskets with children's toys and candy and a popular favorite, $100 worth of scratch-offs. We hosted a corn hole tournament where the winners won two $15 Village Pizza gift certificates and two bottles of hard cider from Left Bank Ciders.
CBVGR: Zack, we’re so thrilled to have you at Village Green Realty. Can you talk a little bit about what lead you to become a real estate agent? Everyone takes a different route…
ZP: My family and I grew up on Long Island in East Meadow. I have a passion for health and wellness, so I studied exercise science and kinesiology and then became a health and fitness coach. I moved to Upstate New York to Hunter in February of 2016, and the change of location came with a change of careers: I found myself helping manage Scribner’s Catskill Lodge in Hunter for four years before transitioning into real estate. I’ve always had a passion for entrepreneurship and before transitioning, I was contemplating how I could make a positive impact in others’ lives. I sought a business I could create that could act as a vehicle for me to do that. By choosing a path that holds many passions of mine, I knew there was no room for failure, because I simply enjoy what I do. I enjoy providing a service, I enjoy marketing, I enjoy helping and coaching others. I love the uniqueness of every person I meet, every home I see and every deal I close. I see myself as more than just a realtor, but as a problem-solver, solution-provider, a savvy marketer, real estate analyst, professional negotiator, fellow neighbor and community member and a friend.
To learn more about Zack, visit his page here. If something in your life is leading you down the real estate pathway, visit our careers page:
Amy Wallace - Marketing