Realtor helps handle a house divided

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Joan Rogliano considers women like herself to be metaphorical wildflowers.

“We’re survivors, and we bloom where we’re planted,” said Rogliano, a Littleton-based real-estate agent. “And we’re all different sizes and shapes and ages.”

About 15 years ago, Rogliano found herself in the middle of a “very conflicted” divorce. Fortunately, her career had prepared her to deal with what would happen to the house. Unfortunately, she says, not all women are so lucky.

“They were getting bad information and being bullied into selling when they didn’t want to sell,” she said. “Honestly, that made me really mad.”

So three years ago she started Wildflower Women’s Foundation in Centennnial to provide scholarships, legal advice and financial advocacy to women going through divorce or who have been widowed. It grew out of informal workshops that were growing ever more popular.

“I just kept getting these arrows that this was bigger than I could support by myself,” she said. So she got a bunch of corporate grants and a board made up of people who could and wanted to help.

“Divorce takes a team,” she said. “But we’re all working together for the person who is going through this. None of us can do this alone.”

That work is paying off. Realtor magazine and the Good Neighbor Society recently named Rogliano one of just five “Volunteering Works” recipients in the country. The program matches Realtors who work on small-scale charitable efforts with mentors and awards them grant money. Winners are selected based on their dedication to the community and the potential for their charitable work to be expanded or improved.

Rogliano’s mentor is 2003 Good Neighbor Claudia Deprez of Illustrated Properties Real Estate in West Palm Beach, Fla. They’ll work together to increase the foundation’s visibility and build a stronger network of professionals to support women.

“Our goal is to take it national,” she said, as the need is expanding, particularly given the numbers of divorcing baby boomers.

“It’s usually the women who are filing, and their needs are really different,” she said. “The kids are gone, and they thought they’d be retiring soon and that there were all these assets, and then they find out there are no assets because they weren’t paying attention.”

Rogliano says older women often don’t want to keep the house because they don’t want the maintenance hassles or they’d simply rather have the money. Younger women with children, however, usually want the continuity and stability of their own neighborhood. Often they think — or they’re told — that they won’t be able to afford the payments or qualify to refinance. Rogliano says their renewed confidence once they realize they can is amazing to see.

“The women really bloom and go on to do some really terrific things,” she said.

Although the foundation has helped as many as 100 women in a month, Rogliano estimates it’s only reaching about 5 percent of the women it could help locally.

“We know they’re out there, and if they’d just apply for money, we have it sitting in the bank,” she said.

For more information on receiving services or how to help, visit wildflowerwomensorganization.org or call 303-952-5063.