Here we stand with 2/3rds of 2017 in our rear view mirrors, and what a year it has been so far!  Does anyone else feel like we've lived a decade in just 8 months?  From the inauguration of a new President in January on the national level, to the locally dramatic impacts of a huge tornado ripping through the cities of Hattiesburg and Petal the very next evening! Fast forward to August where we experienced the excitement of the first total solar eclipse in decades, witnessed over almost the entire continental United States, and then days later, the arrival of Hurricane Harvey to the Texas Gulf Coast.  The damage and torrential flooding from that storm is still not fully known at this writing.  It's been an exhausting year in many ways.  Our thoughts and prayers remain with so many who have been impacted by this storm.  

     It can be easy to become discouraged and angry if you spend too much time watching the news recount and opine on these events and hundreds of others that I will not take the time to detail.  Suffice it to say, there is a lot of turmoil in our world, in our country, and in our communities - both real and imagined - precipitated by the activities of nature and man.  Recently, Amelia and I made the decision to reduce our intake of the news media because we recognize that regardless of what is being reported in the media - both on television and online - that it's no where near the full story.  It often ignores the good that we can find all around us, and it leads us to a place where we are tempted to begin viewing our neighbors as our enemies as opposed to our friends. Good news and good people/neighbors are out there, mind you - I guarantee it!

     How do I know?  Because the simple goodness of people and their desire to serve others was on full display in January when thousands of volunteers flooded our Hub City to give us a helping hand after many had lost everything in January's tornado.  Our family worked alongside those coming to the aid of those in our community, and many of them camped out in our church's parking lot for weeks afterward.  They loved us and wanted to help.  Most of you have similar memories of those days 8 months ago, I'm sure.  It's often in these of times of utter devastation that we're shaken from our television sets and mobile devices, and we discover who our neighbors are and learn to love them in spite of differences (real or perceived) that may exist.

     Right now, thousands upon thousands of volunteers are on their way to the aid of millions impacted by the affects of Hurricane Harvey.  By the time you receive this issue of the Star Chat, most of you will have already heard testimonies of the work that is taking place there.  Some of you may be amongst that number of volunteers, and many of you will know volunteers who left with only a moment's notice to aid victims of this latest disaster.  It's uplifting to witness, and I encourage you to focus on and engage in those efforts.  It can help balance our perspectives and force us to look beyond our "screens and stereotypes," and into the lives and hearts of others.  What a novel idea.

     REALTORS will be a part of this effort as well!  The Mississippi REALTORS Disaster Relief Fund was established after Hurricane Katrina to provide aid to property owners who've experienced damage and displacement from their properties as a result of disasters such as this one.  Since 2005, it has distributed more than $4 million dollars in aid to those impacted by various disasters both in Mississippi and other states, including aid to victims of flooding in Louisiana last year.  No doubt, REALTORS from all over the country will engage with this current disaster in similar ways, as they always do!  REALTORS view ourselves as caretakers of communities, and we are both obligated and honored to put that belief into action!

     It's a good time to reflect on the relationships we have with our neighbors, and the silver lining of the opportunity to serve your fellow man in a time of need and witness and experience the good of others.  It's out there!  At the end of the day, we have been blessed to call the finest land on earth our home, and we at The All-Star Team, REALTORS, are so thankful to serve you as our neighbors.  May God bless you all...wherever you may be...and in whatever circumstance.  We are thankful for you!

Adam and Team