SPOTLIGHT ON: Christopher Greco
Mary Prenon | July 14, 2017
Committed to Protect and Serve
Many families seeking to buy or sell a home in lower Westchester and the Bronx may be surprised to learn their Realtor is also a decorated police detective, president of the Police Association of New Rochelle, and founder of Christopher’s Voice, a not-for-profit organization created to help families of autistic children.
Christopher Greco, of Richard Greco Real Estate in the Bronx, has been part of this family-owned business from an early age. “I grew up in this business. As a kid, I was always hanging around the office,” he recalled. However, it wasn’t until 1998 that he got his appraiser’s license, followed 10 years later by his real estate license.
Greco admits that police work was his first love. “I was in the third grade at Prospect Hill School in Pelham Manor and I remember a police officer coming to our school to talk to us. It was right then that I decided that’s what I wanted to do,” he said.
After attending Bingham University, where he majored in political science, Greco began his police and appraisal careers almost simultaneously. He worked with Amtrak’s police department for about a year before transferring to the New Rochelle Police Department. Greco would work the midnight to 8 a.m. shift, then work for a few hours doing appraisals. “Basically I would sleep between 5 p.m. and 11 p.m.,” he said. “It paid the bills and things were good so it was worth it.”
For the next 15 years, he continued with both careers, providing appraisals primarily for banks before focusing on private appraisals and real estate sales. “I’m still doing both now, but my schedule with the police department is very flexible,” he added.
During his career, Greco received many awards and citations from the New Rochelle Police Department including: Investigator of the Year; Corporate Crime Investigator of the Year; the Police Officer of the Year; the Police Commissioner’s Award; as well as the New York State Shields Hero of the Month Award and many others. He was also awarded Officer of the Month seven times.
In the midst of all of his work, Greco also found time to get married and start a family. He and his wife Tracy live in New Rochelle and have two children, Christopher, 11 and Gabriella, 6.
When Greco’s son Christopher was just a baby, he was diagnosed with autism. His parents enrolled him in an early intervention program soon afterward. However, Greco said it was an incident that happened in 2013, when Christopher was 11 that prompted him to initiate autism awareness programs and create his own charity to help other families with autistic children.
“We had rented a house at the New Jersey shore and I took my eyes off my son for just a minute,” he recalled. “Thank God I found him right away, walking parallel to the water. It was a turning point in my life.”
Greco explained that autistic children have a tendency to wander and are often drawn to water. “The statistics on autistic children drowning are alarming,” he added. As a result, Greco brought Project Lifesaver to New Rochelle. Project Lifesaver provides families with a tracking bracelet that emits a radio frequency. If someone gets lost, the caregivers can contact the police, who can track the person both by foot and aviation. The program also extends coverage for people with Alzheimer’s disease or dementia.
Currently, only the New Rochelle and the Westchester County Police Departments have their own tracking equipment. Since its inception in New Rochelle in 2016, Project Lifesaver has been credited for assisting in locating two people within 25 minutes after they were reported missing.
Greco and his wife also created the Autism Patch Challenge to help build more awareness about this condition. The New Rochelle Police Department designed a police patch with the Autism Awareness puzzle pieces, which sticks to the side of the police car. From there Greco, challenged three other local departments to create similar patches for their respective departments. “All of a sudden multiple agencies from across Westchester joined in including fire departments, ambulance companies, the Coast Guard and Westchester County Corrections,” he said. In total, some 100 different agencies participated, reaching from New York to Maryland, Kentucky, Florida and Texas.
From the Autism Patch Challenge, Christopher’s Voice was launched. The not-for-profit organization is designed to help families with autistic children by providing financial assistance for equipment and services that are not covered by medical insurance. This includes GPS tracking equipment, RF tracking equipment, home and personal security devices.
“Home tracking systems are also essential because autistic children could start to wander during the night and an alarm will let parents know right away,” Greco explained. “We’re starting off locally with this, but our hope is to expand this effort throughout Westchester and beyond to be able to help more families in need.”
In addition, Christopher’s Voice is offering “Go Bags” for Emergency Services throughout the county. These bags will include laminated cards for first responders describing how to assist a found child with autism, where to look if one goes missing, as well as coloring books, bubbles and sensory toys to help calm the child.
Christopher’s Voice is holding two upcoming fundraisers: Moonlight Cruisers Car Show on August 13 at Iona Prep in New Rochelle and Cousins Cigar Lounge Street Fair on Sept. 10th in New Rochelle. More information is available at www.christophersvoice.org.
Last year, Greco was appointed to the Westchester County Autism Advisory Board, and in October 2016, he was a guest speaker at the annual Project Lifesaver conference in Las Vegas.
His police and real estate careers continue to meld well together and Greco has the added bonus of working with his father, Richard, and brother, Michael. “I’ve benefitted from some great referrals as well,” he added. Even with his busy schedule, he still finds time to vacation with his family at the New Jersey shore and do some boating on Long Island Sound.
Of course, autism awareness will always be a huge part of this life. “Like any other cause, it doesn’t affect you until it happens to you,” he said.