During some of the worst disasters and tragedies over the last two decades, stepping in to provide comfort, support and aid have been REALTORS®. Whether it is on the ground in the days after devastating storms or in the frightening, uncertain days and hours following the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, the National Association of REALTORS® (NAR) have been front and center in relief efforts—both nationally and in their own individual communities.
One day before the 20th anniversary of the nation’s worst terrorist attack, the REALTORS® Relief Foundation (RRF)— which was created in direct response to that tragedy—held a virtual commemorative event to honor everyone who has dedicated time and resources to assisting everyday people in some of their most difficult and desperate times.
“Throughout the afternoon, you’re going to be hearing from your peers, from REALTORS® around the country who have lived through states and communities who have been hammered by natural disasters,” said Leigh Brown, RRF vice president. “They have seen and been a physically active part of the relief that the RRF has provided with your help and with your gift.”
The “Hope Rising” event was part of a larger, ongoing fundraising campaign that seeks to raise $8.5 million, money that will more permanently power the RRF’s singular and sole mission: directly supporting people who are suffering in times of crisis.
“We’re going to be here long past the next 20 years regardless of the size of the community, the size of the area that is damaged—we want to be here all together for all those challenging times,” said NAR President Charlie Oppler.
Over the course of the event, participants heard directly from members of the NAR leadership team who responded after Sept. 11 to rally REALTORS® in the wake of that national crisis, along with other members across the country who have stepped up to help out during everything from tornados to power outages in their communities, using RRF resources to make sure people are cared for.
The three members of NAR’s 2001 leadership team shared both their personal experiences on that fateful day 20 years ago, as well as how they came together to form what eventually became the RRF.
Then-NAR President Richard Mendenhall said he was at home, and after calling to make sure his colleagues were safe, he immediately started brainstorming ways REALTORS® could begin to make a difference for those who were affected by the disaster.
“I just kept thinking, we have to do something,” he said.
Then-NAR Vice President Cathy Whatley was in Washington D.C. at the airport. Looking out the window, she watched smoke rise over the Pentagon before hearing that all flights had been cancelled.
“It was one of those days where you find yourself kind of outside of anything you’ve ever experienced,” she said.
Pat Kaplan, who was NAR treasurer at the time, said the initial focus was to start a fund and begin supporting the families of those who had lost their lives in New York, Pennsylvania and Washington D.C. that day. That included asking REALTORS® to personally deliver checks to those folks—an incredibly difficult, emotional duty, she said.
“I’m really proud of what we did,” Kaplan said
That initiative grew to support victims of other tragedies and disasters, all the way up to the recent devastation caused by Hurricane Ida, where the RRF is currently involved in relief efforts, according to Brown.
Many folks joined the livestream to share their individual stories. Sofia Crisp, a REALTOR® in Greensboro, North Carolina, spoke about her experience working with RRF to respond to a tornado in 2018 that displaced dozens of people and damaged hundreds of homes.
“It was quick, and it was meaningful and impactful and it really made a statement about REALTORS® and what we care about—we’re not just about getting you in a home, we want to make sure you stay in a home and you’re safe,” she said.
Ellie Rosebush is a REALTOR® who was also a victim of the devastating Camp Fire in Northern California. She said after losing her own home, the RRF was there to support her and her family—not just financially, but through the emotional devastation as well.
“I didn’t feel alone, and I felt valued by ,” she said. “It just gave us hope, and the hope helped us move forward.”
At the event’s conclusion, Oppler announced that RRF had raised over $220,000 in just one day, reaching $7.3 million for the campaign.
He also urged everyone to continue remembering and honoring the tragic loss that precipitated the RRF’s formation.
”It’s a day that we should never forget. Think about those families that were impacted and lost loved ones. Think about all of the first responders,” he said. “Think about where you were, and think about…what you can do to make it better for somebody else. That’s what it’s about.”
For more information about the REALTOR® Relief Foundation or to donate, click here.
Jesse Williams is RISMedia’s associate online editor. Email him your real estate news ideas to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Very interesting read, not sure if i agree. Will read more