Denise Thomas

Denise Thomas poses for a portrait at Better Homes and Gardens The Masiello Group in Keene.

For Denise Thomas, day-to-day life as a Monadnock Region Realtor is about more than juggling a hectic business schedule of appraisals, negotiations and closings — it’s her way to honor a heartfelt commitment to forging long-lasting community relationships.

It’s those many relationships that have built both her successful career as a real estate agent with Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate/The Masiello Group as well as her reputation as a champion of local causes.

Thomas, 54, a lifelong resident of Keene, said one of her favorite parts of the job is introducing newcomers to all the amenities the city has to offer.

“It’s fun to work with those folks, giving guided tours — pre-COVID — and connecting them to the YMCA or MoCo Arts if they have kids, or to the Keene Country Club if they’re golfers. It’s part of my full-service offerings.”

It was this “benevolence and compassion for a new family moving into a new area” that led Ralph Petti to nominate Thomas for a 2021 Extraordinary Women award. Petti met Thomas only a year ago, during his family’s relocation to the area amid the COVID-19 pandemic, but she made quite an impact on this self-described “newbie” with her thoughtfulness and insight during a stressful time in their lives.

“As someone whom everyone seems to know, Denise is a community organizer and seems to always be volunteering somewhere on a weekly basis,” he said in his nomination letter. “She brings people together and takes her profession to a level well beyond what any books can teach. She understands life and she truly cares about people.”

Denise Thomas is the winner of a 2021 Extraordinary Women award. Video by Cecily Weisburgh / Sentinel Staff. Music:

Her 20-plus years in the real estate industry have included past positions within the mortgage process and in compliance auditing. She’s also worked at an IT company and within the nonprofit sector at Bond Wellness Center at Monadnock Community Hospital in Peterborough, and with the Healthy Monadnock initiative before her path eventually led her back into real estate sales in 2017. Those around her thought she’d be a natural at the sales piece and they were correct — it’s been a good fit, she said.

“I like working with people,” Thomas said of becoming a Realtor four years ago. “I like making connections and it’s a way to network in a different fashion, which I really enjoy.”

Her dedication to community and a passion for social responsibility has also included involvement for the past 15 years with the Keene Elm City Rotary Club. The club's many projects have included international service work in El Salvador, delivering food baskets for The Community Kitchen, roadside clean-up efforts and building projects for local nonprofits.

Since 2012, Keene Elm City Rotary has organized the annual Clarence DeMar Marathon, a highly attended event for both runners from around the country and community members alike, as well as special races for those who participate in the Super Seniors and Kids’ DeMar portions of the event. The proceeds of the marathon and half-marathon support the Follow ME (Move Everyday) sneakers for 2nd-graders program, MUCH (Monadnock Understands Childhood Hunger), and the Rotary’s other humanitarian programs.

At the time of this interview, the 43rd running of the DeMar Marathon was a little more than a week away.

“We’re right in the nitty-gritty of it,” Thomas said of the event’s immense planning needs.

Thomas is one of the originators of the Rotary’s Follow ME initiative, a project aimed at improving childhood health and wellness in the community. As part of this mission, the club delivers brand-new sneakers to 2nd-grade students throughout Cheshire County every year.

In May and June of 2021, Keene Elm City Rotary delivered more than 600 pairs of New Balance sneakers to 2nd-graders at 27 schools in the Monadnock Region. The club also gave Frisbees and jump ropes to more than 630 3rd-graders they were unable to visit last year due to COVID-19 school closures.

Another Rotary endeavor that Thomas has participated in is the club’s international service projects in other countries such as El Salvador that entail building homes, upgrading school facilities and delivering medical mobility equipment.

Through a friend’s connection to the Rotary Club of Midland, Texas, Thomas was able to participate in the Chairs for Chihuahua project, flying by helicopter into Chihuahua, Mexico. Rotary members provided 250 wheelchairs to the communities for use by residents with disabilities, including children.

“It’s a humbling trip,” she said of her international Rotary experiences. “It’s such a different perspective. The abundance we have here is amazing.”

In her volunteer role as an incorporator for Monadnock Family Services, Thomas seeks to assist in educating the public about the many services offered by the community mental health center, and is active in its fundraising efforts. She is an original committee member for the nonprofit’s popular annual Men Who Cook event, where men from the Monadnock Region prepare their favorite recipe to be served to guests of the fundraising dinner.

But she doesn’t just talk the talk of the importance of providing financial support for community organizations such as Monadnock Family Services. She walks the walk.

She donates a portion of her proceeds from all of her real-estate transactions back to local charities and nonprofits. She selects the recipients based on where she sees the greatest need, she says, and some of her past donations have gone to support the work of the Monadnock Region Child Advocacy Center, the Monadnock Humane Society, Monadnock Family Services and The Colonial Theatre.

“This community has been good to me,” she said. “This is my way of giving back.”

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