A Time for Giving

February 1, 2005

The earthquake that spawned deadly waves in South Asia and East Africa in December gave Americans a unique opportunity to show the world what we stand for as a nation. Three years ago, we experienced an outpouring of assistance and support from around the world after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. Now, we’re repaying that goodwill by aiding the millions who’ve suffered the devastating effects of the Dec. 26 tsunami.

As of early January, estimates of the dead stood at 150,000 and were expected to rise; millions more were injured and displaced from their homes. Although relatively few of the missing or dead were from the United States—36 according to a Jan. 6 Reuters report—Americans are stepping up to aid in the relief efforts.

It’s no surprise that the REALTOR® community has taken an active role. One week after the disaster, NAR President Al Mansell issued an open letter to the more than 1 million members of the NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS® calling for contributions to the Realtor® Tsunami Relief Project.

Even as NAR leaders worked to find the best way to use the funds, contributions began pouring in—an estimated $85,000 in the first 72 hours. That’s in addition to $50,000 in start-up money committed by NAR leaders. As in past relief efforts, 100 percent of those donations will go directly to aid the victims. And REALTORS® from around the country have contacted NAR about their desire to participate in rebuilding projects or ship relief supplies and food to affected areas.

Much has been written about the U.S. government’s role in relief efforts and whether it’s enough to win the “hearts and minds” of the people in Indonesia, Sri Lanka, Somalia, and other affected countries where Islamic fundamentalism has a foothold. I don’t know the answer. But to me, the contributions of individual U.S. citizens speak volumes, and those efforts will continue to make the difference now and in the months ahead. This kind of epic tragedy requires a sustained commitment of aid to its victims.

So to all those who have contributed and to those who will contribute to the REALTOR® Tsunami Relief Project, a hearty thank you.

Stacey Moncrieff

Stacey is executive editor of publications for the National Association of REALTORS® and editor-in-chief of REALTOR® Magazine.

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