Standing firm in the face of disaster: The REALTORS® Relief Foundation impact

by Michael C. McGrew

Mike Busby and his family huddled inside the bathroom of their Wynne, Arkansas, home, hoping the pipes and walls around them would offer protection if the structure of their home could not. The Busbys braced as they heard the sounds of an approaching funnel cloud — one carrying winds in excess of 150 mph.

The tornado, with an estimated width of more than 1,600 yards, would not dissipate before traversing 70 miles of the northeastern Arkansas Delta.

When the storm finally passed, Busby and his family knew they were fortunate to have survived. The March 31, 2023, tornado claimed the lives of four people and injured more than two dozen others in Wynne.

Like many other families in their community, however, the Busbys soon realized that the building they once knew, recognized and cherished as their home was no more. Beginning to mentally confront the long, arduous process in front of them, Busby got a call from his real estate agent, the individual who had helped them purchase the home that now lay unrecognizable in a pile of debris.

The agent informed Busby that he and his family would be receiving emergency relief funds made possible by a $1.75 million disaster relief grant from the REALTORS® Relief Foundation (RRF) made to Arkansas REALTORS® to pay to victims of the tornado. Hundreds of families like the Busbys affected by the violent night of storms in Arkansas would, too, receive funds as part of the RRF grant.

Consistently working with and alongside agents who are REALTORS®, state and local associations, and real estate industry partners, RRF works to garner financial support throughout the year, enabling them to act quickly and with maximum impact when natural disaster strikes.

The National Association of REALTORS® was fortunate to have members with a spirit of compassion and the incredible foresight to create RRF in the wake of Sept. 11, 2001. As the nation’s largest trade association, NAR leveraged its membership and its partners nationwide, mobilizing to raise more than $8.4 million in mere hours to provide housing-related assistance to many of those directly affected by the worst terrorist attacks in our nation’s history.

RRF spent the two decades since — alongside the commitment of other NAR members — providing the displaced with shelter and resources for rebuilding. In total, RRF has helped more than 20,000 families across the country with disaster relief grants in excess of $40 million since 2001.

From snowstorms in California and Texas to wildfires, flooding and tornadoes nationwide, it is more clear today than ever how desperately needed the work of groups like the RRF is. This year alone, RRF has provided grants worth more than $5.4 million to address 18 individual disasters. Without continued support, RRF cannot fulfill its goal to provide assistance following natural disasters.

The REALTORS® Relief Foundation is the manifestation of the REALTOR® organization family coming together to help people when disasters strike. Thanks to the generosity of the National Association of REALTORS®, 100% of all contributions received by RRF go directly to support housing-related assistance for those in need. To learn more, visit rrf.realtor or text TEAMRRF to 71777. REALTORS® are members of the National Association of REALTORS®.

Michael C. McGrew, CIPS, CRB, CRS, AHWD, MRP, C2EX, is the president of NAR’s Realtor Relief Foundation.

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