We're rooting for Trudy in more ways than oneRealtor Trudy Harsh of Fairfax is in the running for Realtor magazine’s 2012 Good Neighbor Awards — five Realtors “outstanding Realtors who volunteer time and energy to improve the quality of life in their communities.”

To be frank, it’s hard to beat what Trudy’s done.

Her daughter, Laura, developed a brain tumor when she was eight years old. After Laura survived surgery, Trudy spent the next 30 years caring for her, working tirelessly to get Laura — who suffered from violent outbursts and other emotional problems — an education and a place to live. She was never able to keep Laura in any one place for long; Laura died in 2006 at age 38.

After seeing firsthand the hurdles faced by anyone with brain damage (whether from injury or illness), Trudy — real estate expertise at the ready — founded the Brain Foundation in Fairfax. She raised funds, and with the help of $50,000 from Fairfax housing entrepreneur and a $450,000 loan from the Virginia Housing Development Authority, she purchased a four-bedroom townhouse in Fairfax County.

She arranged for property management and in-home mental-illness care for four people who moved into the house — “Laura’s House” — in April 2007. (They each contribute a percentage of their income to their care.)

But Trudy didn’t stop. The Brain Foundation continued to raise money and buy houses. Today it owns six of them, offering home, care, and independent living to 24 people suffering from schizophrenia, bi-polar disorder, or chronic depression. Three more are on the horizon.

Today, Trudy works to help other establish programs like the Brain Foundation’s — to help the people in their communities who can’t help themselves.

And now Realtor magazine has her in the running as a good neighbor — and we can’t think of a better one. (From the initial 200 nominations, 10 finalists, including Trudy, were chosen; the five winners will be announced in October.)

Click here to read Trudy’s story.

Click here to read a Washington Post story about the Brain Foundation.