With more than a half century in the real estate business, Nelson Leenhouts has built a lot of buildings. But because of his giving heart, he's also built a lot of good will.
At 82, Leenhouts still shows up for work at Home Leasing every day.
“I walk down the hall in the morning, and it's exciting to me, to see the great team we have and the people we work with.” says Leenhouts.
The business has changed over the years – Home Leasing now focuses on building affordable communities. One thing that hasn’t changed is Leenhouts’ belief in servant leadership.
“It requires some humility where you don't put yourself above the people that you have the privilege of leading,” he says.
While they were building their various projects, Leenhouts says having his late twin brother, Norman, as his partner was key.
“Being together, we had much more courage to take risk than I think either one of us would have by ourselves,” he said.
Also important in their success, was their years growing up on the family farm in Wayne County.
He says, “We were blessed with God-loving parents and a church nearby that was the focal point of our whole social life in the area.”
When their father died at 36, the Leenhouts twins watched their mother start and run her own dairy delivery business. They would follow her example, to become leaders in business. She also taught them about philanthropy.
“I firmly believe and can demonstrate that the more you give, the more you receive. It's just absolute fact, I think,” says Leenhouts.
One example of that giving -- the Leenhouts farm has become a getaway for children from the Boys and Girls Club of Rochester.
“In our own company, our mission is to improve the lives of our resident,” he says. “So if you add it all up, it's looking to how we can improve and help people that have less opportunities, who maybe started on a playing field that wasn't as level as ours.”
Leenhouts will receive a lifetime achievement award from the Boys and Girls Club of Rochester at a gala on May 4. The event will also honor the memory of Nelson’s twin brother.
For ticket information, call Stephanie Youst at (585) 328-3077, extension 102.