Son Honors His Mother’s Legacy Through Personal Safety Activism for Professionals Who Work Alone

Daily Point of Light # 7631 Sep 1, 2023

Meet Daily Point of Light Award honoree Carl Carter. Read his story and nominate an outstanding volunteer or family as a Daily Point of Light. 

Content Warning: Points of Light is proud to share the following uplifting and inspiring story. However, we acknowledge that portions may be difficult for some readers. We encourage you to please care for your own well-being above all.   

Carl Carter is the eldest son of late realtor Beverly Carter. In 2014, during the course of her work, Beverly Carter was kidnapped and murdered while showing a home to a couple she believed were prospective clients. In the face of this great tragedy and loss, Carl has turned his grief into action, founding the Beverly Carter Foundation, a nonprofit dedicated to the safety of real estate professionals and other professionals who work alone.  

Through the Beverly Carter Foundation, Carl volunteers to deliver safety education for lone-worker professionals, and has reached tens of thousands of individuals through speaking and safety education courses. Read on to learn how Carl is honoring his mother’s legacy and working to keep others safe through volunteerism. 

What inspires you to volunteer? 

Since I was 17, I have worked for the Blue Cross Health Insurance system in Arkansas. The company was connected to the wellness of the community, and there have always been opportunities for community service and volunteering. Projects included tornado cleanup efforts and much more.  

When my mother’s story blew up in the national media, we faced incredible pressure from the media wanting the inside story. Suddenly we were in the national spotlight, and ever since then, we’ve lived in a glass house. Between the time that she was found and the funeral (which had been delayed because of the investigation), I spoke with many, many people asking if I would start a nonprofit. My initial thought was, “Why?”  

Fast forward to a few months later… With all the publicity, I became the voice for the family standing up for the truth and her character. I began hearing from female real estate agents who shared their own stories of assault. These stories became a heavy weight on me. I’m not a mental health expert. I don’t know how to console people or for that matter myself, but I felt I had a responsibility to do something. The foundation sprang from a desire to help from my mom’s story.

Through the Beverly Carter Foundation, Carl volunteers to deliver safety education for lone-worker professionals, and has reached tens of thousands of individuals through speaking and safety education courses./Courtesy Carl Carter

Describe your volunteer role with the Beverly Carter Foundation. 

In January 2017, I founded the Beverly Carter Foundation, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit foundation dedicated to the safety of real estate professionals and other professionals who work alone. The foundation provides resources, information, consulting, training and support.

I wear many hats in my founder’s role but where I make the most impact is through safety education, which includes speaking, teaching at seminars. That’s where there’s a lot of power in what I’m attempting to do. I have spoken to tens of thousands of people in over 300 events. Most often when I’m asked to speak, it’s focused around my mom’s story and how its lesson can be applied to help others. Safety education is a main priority for me.  

My safety education takes me across the country. I had, and still have, the fear that we’re such a crime- and drama-obsessed country. I sometimes wonder, am I just a true crime entertainer, or am I making an actual difference? I’ve been able to overcome that fear just by hearing the stories of other real estate agents who have either been survivors or realize that there are inherent dangers in their profession. 

My safety training courses that I’ve developed were developed for real estate professionals but apply to anyone who works on their own. Lone-worker professionals are always at risk and so we offer proactive, preventive risk mitigation. Currently, we don’t offer the reactive aspect of self-protection such as self-defense. 

Some of the key takeaways that we encourage people to practice is to know who you’re meeting. Never meet someone without verifying their identity. Many real estate agents shy away from pre-qualifying or asking for proof of cash, but this is one step that can keep them safe. Another safety tip that we learned thanks to the pandemic is the power of virtual showings and virtual tours. And of course “be a buddy, take a buddy” wherever possible.  

I also emphasize the safety measures in our smartphones such as location sharing, panic buttons and other technology.  

What has been the most rewarding part of your work? 

The most rewarding part is when people say I opened their eyes. Months or years later, people say they consciously made a different decision because they thought of Beverly. They had a gut feeling, or put safety measures in place, and they believe these decisions saved their life. 

Secondarily, we’ve all experienced loss but I have a platform where I can continue to talk about my mom and in that way she continues to live on. This is helping me heal, and to carry on her legacy. 

What have you learned through your experiences as a volunteer? 

A tough thing for me that I constantly have to relearn is that through the nonprofit, I’m trying to inspire people to make change. In order to inspire, I have to be inspiring. I can’t be inspiring if I’m giving too much. If I give of myself to the point I’m empty, I’m not able to represent my mom well. I’ve learned to fill my well first, which makes it possible for me to give 100%. 

I have also learned that it takes money to do anything. In many ways the foundation has to function like a for-profit business. It’s been eye opening. 

Tell us about future partnerships, programs or events that you are excited about. 

September has been deemed Safety Month by the National Association of Realtors, so it’s our biggest month for safety education programs all across the country. Volunteers from the Beverly Carter Foundation participate as speakers at safety events nationwide.   

Why is it important for others to get involved with causes they care about? 

In my case, volunteering has been partly about healing and processing. It has been a positive outlet for my grief as I put my grief into action while creating a legacy for my sweet mom.  

Many of us are in jobs we enjoy, but may not be fulfilled because we don’t always have the opportunity to directly touch lives. Volunteering gives an opportunity to engage in something that you love outside of work. Volunteering gives life a richness of purpose beyond what we do from 9 to 5. 

What do you want people to learn from your story? 

I think in the end, it’s about becoming empowered and trusting our God-given instincts. Listen to your gut if something feels unsafe. Alternatively, listen to your gut if something feels absolutely right and do not be afraid to express appreciation and gratitude. Always tell people you love them. 

If you or someone you know may need support in processing tragic events, Help Guide provides evidence-based articles and self-help tools for a wide variety of mental health topics. 

Do you want to make a difference in your community like Carl? Find local volunteer opportunities. 

Jarmila Gorman