A Real Team Effort

Capping off a presidency with gratitude to REALTORS®.
Charlie Oppler

© Nicola Margaret

Your presidency comes to a close in November after the REALTORS® Conference & Expo. What has been most meaningful to you?

I’m a sports guy. I’ve always known the REALTOR® organization was a tremendous team, but members’ commitment to each other and to their communities really hit home for me this year. I see it in those who volunteered as mentors in our new NAR Spire program. I see it at the REALTORS® Are Good Neighbors Facebook page, where we recognize REALTORS® working to make life better for others. And I see it in the generosity members and associations are showing for our REALTORS® Relief Foundation 20-year anniversary campaign.

That campaign, which NAR is calling “Hope Rising,” has been particularly special to you, no?

Very much so. The foundation was born from an effort to help survivors of the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11, 2001. I live in New Jersey and know a number of families who lost someone on that horrific day. That pain never leaves them. REALTORS® brought much-needed comfort with their swift and generous donations that helped survivors keep a roof over their head. Since then, REALTORS® have helped 17,000 families struggling with the immediate aftermath of disaster. I’m profoundly grateful to our members for their continued commitment.

In the past, RRF has raised funds in response to major natural disasters. That’s changed with the Hope Rising campaign. Can you explain why?

I greatly admired college basketball coach Jim Valvano, who took North Carolina State to the 1983 NCAA Division 1 championship—not just his coaching but the legacy he left. In 1993, when he was dying of cancer, he launched a foundation to support cancer research. At the time, he said, “It may not save my life . . . [but] it may save someone you love.” That speaks to why we started the Hope Rising campaign. The foundation touches many lives. Some we may know, others we won’t. But we do know that 100% of the funds go directly to disaster victims. Learn more about the history and impact of the REALTORS® Relief Foundation.

What's it been like taking NAR from lockdown back to in-person meetings and then back to caution due to the COVID-19 delta variant?

Conditions changed often this year and we’ve had to stay on top of safety protocols, but REALTORS® maintained their flexibility, ensured that they provided the best service to their clients, and never overlooked their communities. Not even a pandemic can change who we are. I can’t think of a more fitting way to sum up our members than with this quote from Winston Churchill: “We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give.”