On November 8, 2009, a very small group of executives from within the commercial real estate industry gathered with Ron Weaver to discuss the carnage that was being wreaked by the Great Recession and it broke their hearts. They knew something had to be done. They witnessed firsthand as their friends, neighbors and competitors all fell by the wayside as the recession bulldozed its way through the Tampa Bay market. It rendered the thriving commercial real estate markets that once held the lofty position of the third largest economic driver in the state fall to its knees; barely a blip on the radar screen.
At that first meeting, they were overwhelmed. How could this small group of five do anything meaningful to impact so many? With steely resolve they knew that they had to do something. One suggested monthly meetings so the needs of the attendees could be ascertained. Another suggested guest speakers with inspirational messages. “How about a newsletter to get the word out.” “We could offer to review their resumes and help them update them.”
With only this very modest business plan they set out to find someone willing to donate space in which to hold their first meeting and, hopefully, all subsequent monthly meetings, if necessary. “If necessary” because they had no idea how many, if any, would attend that first meeting. They pleaded their case to the board of the Greater Tampa Association of Realtors to allow them to use their meeting hall for that first meeting and they agreed and offered it free of charge which was a good thing as they had no budget nor did they foresee any revenue stream. All the services they would offer would be free of charge.
They named themselves Real Estate Lives and decided to call those who sought out their services Rebounders because they were down but Real Estate Lives was going to do all within their power to help them bounce back!
The day for that first meeting arrived and they stood by the door to welcome any who might accept their invitation to attend. And come they did! Ten minutes before the scheduled starting time there were Ten Rebounders mingling around the room; then 30; then 60 and by the scheduled starting time there were well over 100 Rebounders seeking out the free services Real Estate Lives would offer. And it wasn’t just Rebounders! Kindred spirits also arrived asking what they could do to help.
As the months went by and word spread the numbers of Rebounders and volunteers grew exponentially, cresting at around 200 for each of the monthly meetings. The skill sets of the volunteers also expanded monthly. There were now professional trainers, public speakers, writers, etc. Love was in the air. It was palpable! So many were giving of their time, energy and expertise to help their fellow man.
To date more than 4,000 rebounders have passed through the Real Estate Lives portal to take advantage of the more than 20 free offerings provided by an equal number of volunteers. Visit “REL by the Numbers” which details the phenomenal success which Real Estate Lives has propagated!