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FAR’s Disaster Relief Fund (DRF) Is There For You

The names Andrew, Charley, Dennis, Frances, Ivan, Jeanne and Wilma will be forever etched in the minds of Floridians. But as devastating as those hurricanes were, they also generated a tremendous outpouring of goodwill—as members of the Realtor® community from across the state stepped forward and donated millions of dollars to assist their fellow real estate professionals who were victims of those storms.

The Florida Association of Realtors®’ Disaster Relief Fund (DRF)was originally created as a trust in the aftermath of Hurricane Andrew in 1992, with the primary purpose of assisting members of the Realtor® family who are victims of officially declared natural disasters such as hurricanes, tornadoes and more. In 2004, when an unprecedented four hurricanes touched down in Florida within six weeks, the DRF received more than $2 million in donations.

“The assistance and the outreach we received from the Realtor community made us realize anew that the profession is [one] in which people reach out to help their fellow man,” says Nan Harper, co-owner of Harper-Pinzino Island Realty in Pensacola Beach, who received DRF assistance when her home and business was destroyed by Hurricanes Ivan and Dennis.

Joan Cornett, sales associate with Bill Mancinik, Realtor, in DeLand, awoke on Feb. 2, 2007, to find her dreams “evaporate in one brief moment.” Three tornadoes—now known as the Groundhog Day Tornadoes—blazed a path of destruction across Lady Lake, The Villages, DeLand and New Smyrna Beach. “A house is a hard thing to lose,” says Cornett, who saw the home in which she raised her son reduced to a pile of debris. “I submitted photos of the damage with forms [to the DRF] and was able to get some assistance based on the enormity of the damage.

“We are all vulnerable to anything when it comes to Mother Nature,” Cornett adds.

“The fund is for natural disaster assistance—whether here in Florida or in other states,” says Todd Dantzler, 2008 DRF chairman. “We hope and pray that we’re not needed, but if so, we are there to respond and we take our responsibilities very seriously.”

“I would like to see contributions reach the $10 million level,” says past DRF chairman and 2004 FAR President Russell Grooms. “We could make it a self-perpetuating [entity] and always have funds available for emergencies.”