Laura Robelen ’78 was a 13-year veteran of Friends, following in the footsteps of her mother, Lois Moodey ’53. At Friends, Laura enjoyed participating in chorus and especially the annual Spring musicals. She served as Secretary of her senior class. The friendships made at WFS have stood the test of time, thanks to social media, and she regularly gathers with classmates living in the Wilmington area. Laura graduated from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro with a major in Communication and Theatre and a minor in Psychology. Since 1988, Laura has been a licensed Realtor and is also an Associate Broker. She teaches the Pre-Licensing Sales class for her brokerage Long & Foster. Laura has been a fundraising volunteer for Delaware Hospice for the last 25 years. She has served as chair of The Festival of Trees for most of those years and also serves on the Board of Trustees and as Co-Chair of the Development Committee.
What changes in the real estate business have you noticed since you began as a real estate agent?
When I started my real estate career in 1988, the business was smaller and more like a family. My office only had about 25 people and our entire company could fit in the ballroom of the University and Whist Club for meetings! Now, I doubt that my office could do that comfortably. My Pre-Licensing students and the overall agent demographics are getting younger (or am I getting older?). More agents are choosing real estate as their first career rather than their second, as it was back in the day.
The most significant change has definitely been the technology of the industry. In ’88, we were still working with multi-list BOOKS and the computer was considered “new”. By today’s standards, it was rudimentary, since the internet hadn’t been invented yet! With the advances in tech, my clients are able to do their own property searches and take virtual tours before ever walking through the front door. It’s crazy to think that we ever sold houses with only one black & white photograph to see. Yet, with the availability of property information online comes the possibility of inaccuracies and misinterpretation by non-professionals. A little information can be a dangerous thing!
For the first several years of my career, we operated in a “buyer beware” environment. Buyers had no representation from agents. That changed in the early 1990’s with the introduction of Buyer Agency. Delaware became a Statutory Agency state in 2007, which has made the way we do business much clearer and easier. Now everyone knows who represents who…can you tell I teach this class?!
With the introduction of electronic contracts, not only can paperwork be signed in moments from any computer, at any time, but we can actually read them rather than trying to decipher hand-written forms! Speaking of forms, when I started, the Contract of Sale was a double-sided legal page. Hard to imagine, considering that today, the Contract is 10 pages followed by over a dozen pages of disclosures! But no matter how advanced the technology gets, our business remains one of service and personal connection. That’s what is so rewarding – helping people find their perfect home or move on to a new adventure.
You are a board member of Delaware Hospice serving on the Development Committee. Tell us about the Festival of Trees fundraising event which you chair and about Camp New Hope.
Founded in 1982, Delaware Hospice is the leading licensed, nonprofit, community-based healthcare organization serving Delaware, and Pennsylvania’s southern Chester and Delaware Counties. Delaware Hospice provides exceptional care and support to individuals, families, and the community and serves as a trusted community partner in end-of-life education. For the past 25 years I have been a fundraising volunteer and have served on the Board of Trustees since 2008.
The Festival of Trees is our annual holiday fundraiser which features a magnificent display of decorated trees which are sponsored by local businesses, individuals, or families. They are decorated by some very talented community volunteers in an incredible variety of themes. At the conclusion of our three-day Festival, those trees are then distributed to other local organizations such as shelters, day care centers, veterans and senior facilities, animal shelters, etc. so that they may enjoy them throughout the holiday season. We also feature a large Marketplace where handmade wreaths, gifts, and goodies are sold. There is a Senior Center tree decorating competition and live entertainment daily. The funds raised go towards supporting our various programs and services offered to the community. In 2022, we are returning to the Brantwyn Estate for our Festival, November 18-20. I’d love to see the WFS family attend!
New Hope is a nationally-recognized program that helps young people ages 6-17 sort through the maze of emotions they’re experiencing before and after a loved one dies. New Hope counselors provide grief education and support to children and their families through a variety of workshops, support groups, and individual discussions, as well as a summer camp. New Hope services are available to both Delaware Hospice families and to the wider community at no charge, thanks to generous donors. The four-day Camp New Hope takes place in both New Castle and Kent counties. Through a variety of fun camp activities and bereavement exercises, campers have opportunities to interact with other children who have experienced loss. At Camp, the children learn how to process their grief and, more importantly, learn that they are not alone.
What was your WFS experience in the performing arts under Violet Richman?
The expression “force of nature” has been used by so many to describe Violet Richman. She was truly a one of a kind woman and a real force of creativity for WFS. Her Concert Chorus programs were innovative and so well done. The Spring musicals were highly anticipated events and her personality shone through them all. She wasn’t afraid to take chances with material, casting, or staging. Violet introduced us to the magic and wonder of the Broadway musical, especially the genius of Stephen Sondheim. She demanded excellence from each one of us and we wouldn’t have dreamed of disappointing her! She brought out the best in us and we strived to give our best in return. While I never had a lead role in a production, it was a privilege to be a part of each show. Despite the huge casts and lots of “supporting players”, after every show, she sent each one of us a signed program saying “Thanks, Darlin’!” She made us feel special. That’s a talent in itself. She was undoubtedly one of my very favorite teachers of all time.
How has attending WFS impacted you?
The older I become, the more I realize just how fortunate I am to have had a WFS education. The small classes, the individual attention from excellent teachers, fostering a sense of community and responsibility, infused with the Quaker fundamentals – they help form the foundation of a person. I’m sure that 13 years of Meeting for Worship has helped me be a bit calmer and better at waiting! The emphasis on community service has certainly carried over in my professional and volunteer life. In college, I tutored students who needed a little extra help. It was an eye-opening experience to see college students with such poor reading and study skills. I felt very lucky to have been given the tools to feel prepared for the classrooms beyond Friends. And of course, the lasting friendships have been so meaningful to me. At our 40th reunion, it was amazing to see so many classmates come from so far away to celebrate. The connections were still there, and new ones formed with those who we may not have been close to at WFS. There really is a bond and, Wilmington being a “big small town”, I love that I can still get together with some close girlfriends regularly. WFS was a special place to go to school and, even after nearly 45 years (!) and many changes, it still feels like a second home in my heart.