Although the CRE industry's participation in charitable and nonprofit efforts locally is renowned, it's also among the few that takes care of its own.

NEW YORK CITY-Although the CRE industry’s participation in charitable and nonprofit efforts locally is renowned, it’s also among the few that takes care of its own. That helping hand has been extended since 1954 by the Realty Foundation of New York, which on Thursday honored the man who served as its chairman for 14 years, Larry Silverstein.

“We can all be proud that the real estate industry is the most generous in New York,” Silverstein said in accepting the Realty Foundation’s 2013 Person of the Year award during the organization’s annual fundraising luncheon. Chairman and CEO of Silverstein Properties Inc., he noted that the industry is “hugely represented” in board memberships and sponsorships of organizations ranging from charitable groups to museums.

Yet he noted that the CRE community “owes a great deal to the city of New York.” He described that responsibility as create a city “that is sustainable and that offers a better quality of life” to all of its residents. “Real estate is a passion with us, and we bring the same spirit and attitude toward our broader community, which is this great city.”

Silverstein noted that he’d “lost track” of how many years he’d been involved with the Realty Foundation, which offers financial assistance to indigent brokers faced with business reversals or catastrophic medical expenses, and college scholarships for employees or children of employees of Realty Foundation board member firms. Since its founding, the foundation has provided grant assistance to 835 brokers and scholarships to 1,542 students, totaling about $7.5 million.

“It’s a remarkably cohesive group,” Silverstein said of the foundation’s membership. “Everyone works well together because the goal is very simple: to do the best we can for the needy in the brokerage community.” He gave plaudits to the foundation’s executive director, Patricia Frank, for adminstering each and every grant or scholarship. The identitities of the grant recipients are kept anonymous.

In giving the award to Silverstein in the Grand Ballroom at the Waldorf Astoria, current Realty Foundation chairman Jerry Cohen and president H. Dale Hemmerdinger noted the recipient’s penchant for branding his properties with the word “silver,” including his Silver Towers apartment complex and his yacht Silver Shalis, and his insistence that passengers on that yacht not wear shoes. Accordingly, Cohen and Hemmerdinger presented Silverstein with a pair of silver-plated shoes.