August 2019 CityMaker:

Marie Hanna

By Jonathan Camargo

Life is the most beautiful yet difficult experience any of us will ever know. Although we pride ourselves on our ability to have it “all figured out,” how many of us truly do?

How many of us know what tomorrow brings and what we lost in yesterday?

You see, the tumultuous turns in our stories are anything but foreseeable. The silent yet steady hand of time has its way on all of us. Nothing is guaranteed, but for the time that we’re here, let’s do our best to make this experience a bit better for everyone. With faith, diehard humility, and some guidance from above, our latest Lakeland CityMaker is committed to doing just that.

A Community to Serve

For Marie Hanna, a day in the office is another day spent serving both her faith and her community alike.

She prays every morning in Hebrew, “Hineni Adonai, maleh oti”, which translates to “Here I am Lord, fill me.”

“With His goodness, with His mercy, with His obedience, with His compassion,” she explains.

You see, Marie’s ability to serve our community is only made possible by a steadfast belief in something much greater than herself. She’s devoted her life to being a servant of the people, humbly yet gracefully diverting any bestowed glory from herself to the Divine Presence above.

A Lakeland-Based Heart

Marie moved to Lakeland a little over 15 years ago, drawn by a desire to help assist her retired parents with whatever issues may arise in their twilight years. Although their relationship was far from perfect, the bond of family is one that follows for a lifetime.

Originally from Massachusetts, Marie’s permanent arrival to Polk County was flanked by one of our community’s toughest times: the 2004 hurricane season. As heavy winds and rain swept across the state, Marie and her husband, a carpenter by trade , pursued an opportunity to buy a fixer-upper in Auburndale. Although the two have since divorced, their work together on that first home sparked an interest in home buying that would inevitably become Marie’s profession of choice.

“When I decide to do something, I get into it 110%,” Marie shared. “I fell in love with all things real estate.  I quickly got a Broker’s license and did extremely well.   This career has been very good to me. I made a lot of friends, and I eventually got involved with the board.”

You see, Marie’s foray into real estate hallmarked a pivotal point in her life, unbeknownst to her at the time. Although she’d always been the first to help a friend, it wasn’t until her time on the board of the Lakeland Realtors® (LAR) that her servant’s heart would beat with reinvigorated purpose.

A Little Compassion, A Big Community

For as long as Marie can remember, she’s wanted to serve others. Her selflessness isn’t based on any extrinsic purpose or reward. The glitz and glamour of the limelight couldn’t spark even the slightest of embers in her spirit, for she thrives for something much more fulfilling.

Marie started on the LAR board as a Director, but her true passion as a servant lay elsewhere. It wasn’t until she was asked to be the chairperson of the Community Service Committee in 2012 that her tenacity for seeing things through would be fully realized.

Prior to her six-year appointment, the committee hadn’t yet found its stride in the community.

“In typical Taurean fashion, I just grabbed the bull by the horns,” Marie said.

Marie was the match to the committee’s combustible kindling, igniting them with her passion and spreading that blaze among all alongside her. It was from this committee in which a brilliant brainstorming session gave birth to one of this community’s great charitable acts.

“I remember I had some really strong personalities around that table,” Marie shared.

Among the people present that day was Randy Browning, founder of kidsPACK, who knew someone that worked at Rooms To Go.  The committee discussed the idea of asking the company to donate bedroom sets to local children in need. Shortly thereafter, the Room Makeover was born. Now an annual LAR tradition that’s just completed its 7th year, the Room Makeover is a charitable project designed to give back to our community’s youth by presenting them with a bedroom they can be proud of.