DEMAREST, N.J.– It's not a question of what Rebecca LaPira of Demarest does --it's more of what doesn't she do.
The mother of two is president of the Demarest Recreation Commission, the Closter Animal Welfare Society ( CLAWS ) and the Bergen County Young Professionals Network all at once and a full-time real estate agent for RE/MAX Fortune Properties in Englewood.
"I think it's really important to give back and be involved in the community," she said. "Someone has to do it. I've volunteered since I was 16 with animal organizations and youth sports."
Her husband, Anthony, is a recreation coach and Boy Scout leader, as well.
Her mother was a parent-teacher organization president and softball coach.
So how does LaPira, 40, juggle all of her responsibilities?
"I believe in the old saying: 'If you want to get something done, give it to a busy person','" she said.
As a real estate agent, LaPira is tasked with selling not only homes but the towns they're in.
She wanted to be able to sell people on Demarest but noticed a lack of community-wide events.
"Instead of sitting back and complaining that we didn’t have them, I decided to make it happen," LaPira said.
The next event is a New York Red Bulls game in October, said LaPira, who is also a Girl Scout leader.
"I'm really proud of going from having nothing to putting on these events where people can turn off the TV, put down the phone and get out," she said. "It’s important for the kids and the adults and to bring the community together. It’s helped me be able to communicate with people."
That wasn't always the case.
"People had trouble getting information if they didn't have a child in the school system," LaPira said. "I found that I had to go and access any information."
Before Luke – now 9 and named after "Star Wars" character Luke Skywalker – and Mallory, who is currently 7, began school, LaPira created the Demarest Moms Facebook page .
She said the page is a "one-stop shop" for information and a place for locals to advertise services – tutoring, babysitting, etc. – as well.
Everyone has their cause, LaPira said. As an only child with pets, she always cared about animals.
She had a dog, cats, birds, and hamsters. The family's 17-year-old cat, Jackson, died last week.
The former Boston, Manhattan and Los Angeles resident didn't think there would be a need for rescuing animals in the Northern Valley and beyond.
LaPira said she's a proponent of TNR – trap, neuter, release – when it comes to the feral cat population across Bergen and Hudson counties.
"We can't bring every animal inside – it's not realistic," she said. "But the best solution is trapping them, fixing them and releasing them.
"There’s no county or state program with funding," she added. "We do it with money out of our own pockets."
The animal cause has expanded into her real estate work, too.
"I get calls from people looking for homes but their pets aren't allowed," LaPira said. "I'm trying to educate landlords that there are responsible pet owners.
"Pets are part of the family."
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