Renew, Reconnect

From NAR President: You won't want to miss the 2006 NARdiGras in New Orleans.

October 1, 2006

In late August I visited the Gulf Coast. It was my third trip there since Hurricane Katrina. I traveled to New Orleans’ Ninth Ward, as well as Bay St. Louis, Miss., where REALTORS® were taking a week from their work to help rebuild homes with Habitat for Humanity International. When I left, it was with an intense feeling of pride that I’ll be joined by tens of thousands of you back in New Orleans Nov. 10–13 for the REALTORS® Conference & Expo.

There are a number of ways to look at the conference this year. As usual, it’ll be filled with opportunities to learn and have fun. The fun is the part we’ve emphasized in our “NARdi Gras” theme. After the general session on Saturday, for example, we’ll be heading to Bourbon Street for our own NARdi Gras parade and party. The following night is the REALTORS® Celebrity Concert with New Orleans jazz great Harry Connick Jr. You can attend the concert free as a full-conference registrant.

There are also ample learning opportunities at the conference. With many areas of the country experiencing slow markets right now, it’s a great time to learn new skills, explore strategies for achieving more in your business, test new products, and build your professional network.

I’m confident that none of the reasons you normally go to a conference will be diminished by the devastation that struck New Orleans a year ago. The historic core of the city remains intact with restaurants and stores open and tourism returning. In June the American Library Association concluded a successful conference there with 18,000 attendees. NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS® convention staff members were there to observe and pitch in. They report that the city did a great job of welcoming attendees and the conference went off without a hitch.

Of course, away from the convention area and tourist attractions, there remains a lot of work to be done. More than half of New Orleans’ residents have returned to the city, and the population is growing. But many residents still face immense challenges in rebuilding their homes and lives.

You’ve already demonstrated enormous generosity toward the people of the Gulf Coast. All told, REALTORS® and friends have contributed more than $17 million to various Gulf Coast relief efforts, with $5.6 million of that going to the REALTORS® Relief Foundation for the Gulf. NAR is now embarking on a campaign to build 54 Habitat for Humanity homes in the area, which represents one from each state and territory. When you register for NARdi Gras, you can also volunteer to participate in rebuilding and renovation efforts. Whether you’re hammering nails, planting trees, painting a school, cleaning up a library, or refurbishing a playground, you can help bring back the residential areas destroyed by Katrina. Full and partial-day activities are available.

If you’d like to renew yourself, reconnect with colleagues from around the country, and rebuild a great city, please don’t wait. Register for the conference and start lining up your hotel, transportation, and restaurant reservations. We won’t rebuild New Orleans in a week, but, working together, we can make a huge difference and have a great time in the process. I'm counting on you! Sign up today. I’ll see you at NARdi Gras.