Building Hope

Four hurricanes pounded Florida in August and September 2004, and Rob and Marlena Burger are still recovering eight years later. Their Orlando storefront printing and design business was destroyed, and the couple ended up living and working in an old mobile home that suffered from severe leaks, electrical issues, and mold.

The couple was losing hope of ever owning a home, until they found Habitat for Humanity of Greater Orlando Area. Now, the Burgers are among the 58 families moving into the Stag Horn Villas, an $8 million, energy-efficient, townhome community built by Habitat.

“At one time, we were treading water in a sea of despair,” said Burger. “But since Habitat, we’ve been floating in an ocean of gratitude.”

About 100 REALTORS® volunteered their carpentry skills at the Stag Horn Villas development Wednesday morning. This is the 12th year members of NAR have participated in a Habitat for Humanity build during the REALTORS® Conference & Expo. NAR contributed $50,000 to the Stag Horn Villas project.

“Every nail you drive, every paint brush you use, every item you carry, recognize that you’re not just helping these folks, but you’re helping this country,” Moe Veissi, 2012 president of NAR, told the REALTOR® volunteers. “Not just the economic health of America depends on home ownership, we know that the social and cultural health of this country knits its fabric together by people who live in communities that you are helping to build.”

Erica Christoffer

Erica Christoffer is a multimedia journalist and contributing writer and editor for REALTOR® Magazine. She can be reached at

More Posts - Website - Twitter - Facebook

  1. It’s great to read such an inspirational article. The story of Rob and Marlena just goes to show that the effects of such disasters are not just in the moment they occur or the short-time afterwards. They are on-going and take many years to recover from. I notice that this was posted over a year ago now so I hope all is well.