Behind every grant, is a story of a real person who is fighting one of the hardest battles of their life.
A 40-year veteran to the floor covering industry, Earl worked at Custom Mills and then at Brown Industries, located in Dalton, GA, where he was a paper cutter for carpet sample books. A few years ago, Earl was diagnosed with Parkinson’s and spinal stenosis. Earl said, “My walking has been affected the most. I cannot walk long distances and find it very difficult to do more than shuffle my feet.” He was struggling to navigate his home while coping with his limited physical abilities. Luckily, Earl was connected to the Floor Covering Industry Foundation that provided a grant to help make his house more accessible, including bathroom modifications, smooth non-slip flooring and transitions, smart lighting and a mechanical lift chair. These accommodations have enabled Earl to continue to live independently. He said, “I would like to thank the Floor Covering Industry Foundation for this grant and all of the safety improvements it has allowed me to do to my home. The kindness you have extended to me will never be forgotten.”
Meet the Jewells
“Growing up, we didn’t have a lot, but we had happiness,” shared Roger Jewell, a recent FCIF grant recipient. Roger grew up living with his family in a cotton mill village and started working in the mill when he was 16 years old. After marrying his wife, Barbara, and starting a family, Roger worked in flooring manufacturing to help provide for his family. Now in his later years, Roger shared, “I miss getting to work.” Due to Roger battling Stage 4 Parkinson’s Disease and heart failure and his wife suffering from memory loss, the Jewells moved into an assisted living facility where they learned of the Floor Covering Industry Foundation. Luckily FCIF was able to provide the Jewells with a grant to help with meeting their basic needs including housing and daily living assistance. Roger also shared “I am thankful for the help we received from FCIF!”
Meet The Wrights
“The Floor Covering Industry Foundation saved my life, literally,” shared Sandra who had worked for eight years for a flooring manufacturer, when she became ill. Her jobs included working as a spinner, winder, and doffer creeler. She has always enjoyed working and helping others. When she was diagnosed with liver cancer in October of 2020, she had to stop working to undergo treatment. At this time, she did not know how she was going to pay her bills and thought she was going to lose her home along with her two cats that she adores. Sandra stated, “I was on the verge of suicide when FCIF reached out to me regarding the grant.” The Foundation was able to assist Sandra by providing funds to help with medical care and household expenses, such as rent and utility payments. Sandra also shared, “The grant funding relieved a huge amount of stress, and it brought me to life again. Thank you so very much FCIF for helping me live.”
“For the last 18 years we have fought battles with my daughter that you would not believe,” shared Tammy, Megan’s mom. When Megan was 11 months old, she was given only two hours to live. Her parents were told she would more than likely need a heart transplant. The family lives in Dalton, Georgia, but Megan had to be air lifted to Atlanta Children's Hospital. Her mother shared, “She went into cardiac arrest several times and died on us numerous times, three days before receiving her heart transplant.” During the last 18 years, Tammy has not been able to work due to caring for her daughter who has special needs and several medical conditions. Tammy stated, “It has been a battle being that our only source of income was my husband's.” Megan’s father is a Dye Weigher at a flooring manufacturing facility, where he has worked for 32 years. Megan’s parents applied for a caregiver to come and help them with Megan during the daytime as her mother needed assistance with getting Meagan in and out of the shower. However, they were denied every way they turned. The Floor Covering Industry Foundation was able to provide a grant to help with caregivers coming into the home, medication, transportation to appointments, food, as well as making the bathroom in their home handicap accessible. Tammy shared, “If not for FCIF, I honestly don't know what we would have done. There are no words to thank them for what they have done for us. I pray God just blesses them a hundredfold for what they do for other people.”
Spending his time outdoors hunting and fishing is how Jeffery liked to spend his days. However, in December of 1987 Jeffery’s life took a drastic turn due to a car accident that left him quadriplegic and wheelchair bound. Jeffery is now paralyzed from the chest down and relies on his parents to care for him. As his parents have aged, they are unable to provide some of the strenuous care that is needed, such as dressing, bathing, and lifting. Jeffery was connected to the Floor Covering Industry Foundation by his father who worked in the flooring industry for 28 years as a customer service manager. Jeffery knew that he needed to give his parents a break as it was becoming harder for them to care for him. FCIF was able to provide a grant to assist with caregivers coming to Jeffery’s home to help with daily living activities. Jeffery shared, “receiving the grant from the Foundation has changed my life as well as my parents' life, because it has eased the burden of them having care for me 24 hours a day. I am so thankful I found out about FCIF’s grant program which has allowed me to be more independent.”
“The Floor Covering Industry Foundation has made my life a lot easier,” shared Michele, a recent recipient of a grant from the FCIF. Michele, a single mother with two daughters, has worked on the clerical side of the flooring industry for 9 years. Recently, she was diagnosed with breast cancer and was out of work during her treatment. During that time, a social worker at her local cancer treatment center connected Michele with the Floor Covering Industry Foundation, which was able to help Michele get caught up on outstanding bills. The grant she received also gave her a peace of mind knowing that she would have funds from FCIF to help pay for the cost of her medical care that insurance did not cover. Michele shared, “I would like to thank the Floor Covering Industry Foundation for helping people that have unseen medical issues and are not able to work.”
“Happy go lucky,” is how recent Floor Covering Industry Foundation (FCIF) grant recipient Kay Bearfield described her life. Kay is a veteran of the floor covering industry, having worked as a lead at a manufacturing facility for 23 years. It was not until diagnosed with cancer for the third time that things started to change. Kay became worried about how she was going to pay her doctor, hospital, and pharmacy bills. Thanks to a social worker at her local cancer treatment center, she was informed about FCIF. “It was like God opened another door for me during a difficult time,” she shared. With the grant from FCIF, Kay was able to have a weight lifted and get the financial help she needed. Thanks to FCIF, Kay is starting to make a turn back to the happy go lucky life she once knew. Kay wants everyone to know how thankful she is and that the Floor Covering Industry Foundation can help individuals like her in a time of need.
Alan has been a fighter his entire life. Diagnosed with Cerebral Palsy at 18 months old, Alan lives with impaired muscle coordination caused by damage to the brain that occurred at birth. Then in December of 2015, he was diagnosed with Hypertriglyceridemia, with elevated triglycerides which increases the risk of stroke, heart disease, and heart attack. His doctor recommended a medical bicycle to help strengthen his muscles and keep his triglyceride levels down. That’s where the Floor Covering Industry came in; FCIF was able to cover the entire cost of the medical bicycle. His mom, Catalina, who works in a flooring manufacturer in Georgia, shared that the grant “made me have a more positive outlook because I know that there are people who will help.” Alan is now able to go to the park with his mom and enjoy bicycle rides.
Meet Andrea Holland
Andrea Holland, a 20-year veteran of the floor covering industry, began working for Mohawk Industries as a cone sorter at the age of 15. Several years later, she expanded her skill set and earned an Associate of Business Administration degree from Floyd College in Rome, GA. She had several positions over the years in various accounting and payroll departments. Her last position was in Waste Management and Cost Accounting. Unfortunately, in December of 2016, Ms. Holland was diagnosed with multiple illnesses including an immune disorder that left her susceptible to infections and Postherpetic Neuralgia, which affects nerve fibers and causes pain and numbness. Her health obstacles became more than she could overcome and rendered her disabled and unable to work. Because of her loss of income, medical bills and everyday expenses started to pile up. This caused her financial stress, but luckily a home healthcare nurse connected her with the Floor Covering Industry Foundation. The Foundation was able to help with her medical bills and rent payments. Ms. Holland shared, “The grant has been an answered prayer. The grant has helped me buy my prescriptions, make my trips to the doctor, and have my infusions every two weeks.”
Meet Steve Smalley
When he was younger, Steve Smalley enjoyed playing bass guitar and singing in bands. He eventually followed in his father’s footsteps and became a flooring salesman for a retail store and a carpet installer in Bloomington, Illinois. He dedicated many years to the floor covering industry until he suffered a stroke in 2019. The stroke caused weakness in the right side of his body including difficulty speaking and trouble swallowing. The devastating effects put a hold on Mr. Smalley’s career, as he now requires 24/7 assistance. Thankfully he has his wife, Jana. The aftermath also caused financial stress on the couple since his wife was unable to work due being his primary caregiver. The couple was directed to the Floor Covering Industry Foundation by Mr. Smalley’s employer. FCIF was able to assist the family by providing a grant for medical care and household expenses such as mortgage, food, utilities, and transportation costs. Ms. Smalley shared, “This grant has enabled Steve and I to continue to lead our lives as normally as possible, with the hope for improvement so I can get back to work.”
Meet the Campbells
After eight years of service to the floor covering industry, Michael Campbell was forced to stop working his normal 70-90 hours a week due to stage 4 brain cancer. Michael lives with his wife and eleven-year-old son in Glasgow, Virginia, where he worked as shift leader and line clerk. His hard work and dedication stemmed from wanting to give his family a better life than what he experienced growing up in a single parent household where he spent much of his time taking care of his siblings. Unfortunately, his life changed drastically due cancer. In October 2017, he had surgery to remove a malignant brain tumor, six weeks of daily chemotherapy and radiation, followed by seven more cycles of chemotherapy. Hospitalized in November 2018 due to severe headaches, an MRI revealed another tumor, this time inoperable. Mr. Campbell is currently undergoing chemotherapy every two weeks and receiving electric fields therapy, which stops the growth of new cancer cells. Now, with the family just relying on his wife’s income, they are behind on the household expenses and medical bills. The financial stress was more than the family could bear. With the grant from the Floor Covering Industry Foundation, the Campbells were able to save their home from foreclosure, catch-up their utility bills, afford Mr. Campbell’s treatments.
Meet the Petersons
Appeared in Floor Covering Weekly on Tuesday, November 13, 2018
[Pomona Park, Fla.] The Floor Covering Industry Foundation (FCIF) is there when its needed most. Just ask Rene Peterson who worked for Taylor Carpet One for 10 years as a sales consultant, store manager and most recently sales manager. Her husband of 14 years Robert Peterson (who also worked for Taylor Carpet One for a few years) was diagnosed with lung cancer and a brain tumor — the shocking diagnosis left him with decreased mobility and unable to work.
“Our lives were transforming every day,” Rene Peterson, who was now the sole financial provider, told FCW. “I could no longer work 60 hours a week and lead my team, I was spending more time at the doctors’ and at the chemo and radiation therapy sessions with Robert.”
Less working hours and medical treatment and doctor visit bills were a challenge. A decision was also made to move closer to their family. “Moving to a smaller house became a need instead of a want,” Rene Peterson said.
However, she recalled reading about the Floor Covering Industry Foundation in FCW. For over 35 years, the Floor Covering Industry Foundation (FCIF) has been helping members of the flooring industry in times of need. The foundation benefits current or previous employees of the floor covering industry by providing grants that go towards paying for medical treatment, therapy and other supplies — sometimes even food and rent. As a resource for members of the flooring industry who are experiencing illnesses, injuries and other severe medical disabilities, The Petersons turned to FCIF—and the foundation was there to help.
“The Foundation gave us assistance beyond our expectations,” she offered, adding that FCIF helped the family with paying for treatment and even affording house payments. “They assisted with medical, everyday bills and food. Everyone we worked with at The Foundation was so compassionate, understanding and communicated with us on a regular basis.”
Rene Peterson added, “If anyone is going through hard times and needs a hand, I highly recommend that they reach out to the Floor covering foundation for assistance. There is no reason to suffer in silence. We lost a lot because of cancer, we gained a loving livable lifestyle from the help of the Floor Covering Industry Foundation.”
For more on the Floor Covering Industry Foundation, visit fcif.org.
Meet the Majors
“Our life is blessed thanks to the Floor Covering Industry Foundation,” shared Nancy, a recent grant recipient. Nancy and Frank Majors have been married for 50 years, and together they have raised three sons. Frank has always had a strong work ethic, and he was employed at Mohawk Industries as a machine operator and mechanic for over 33 years. He is now retired and was recently diagnosed with end-stage Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD), which is a disease of the lungs. He has been on hospice care since April 2017 and must use an oxygen tank 24/7. Soon after Frank's diagnosis, Nancy found out she has squamous cell cancer, which is a type of skin cancer. With both out of work and increasing medical bills, they were plunged into financial despair. Nancy states, “We do without simple pleasures and luxuries just to be able to handle the bills. We do the best we can.” Unfortunately, it proved to be more than they could handle with their limited income. The grant provided by the Floor Covering Industry Foundation helped them afford basic living expenses, health insurance premiums, and hospice care each month. “The Foundation has taken away a lot of our worries,” Nancy noted, “We are grateful.”
Meet The Osbornes
Arnold Osborne’s love of restoring vintage cars translated into a career working as a mechanic in the floor covering industry repairing truck engines and preforming maintenance to the fleet at a Chatsworth, Georgia finishing plant. Arnold worked 60-65 hours per week to try to make ends meet for more than 30 years. Two years ago, his life was turned upside down. He had a head injury while trying to repair a dock door and was taken out of work per recommendation by his doctor. Following his injury, he was diagnosed with grade 5 prostate cancer, which spread to part of his bladder and other surrounding areas. He has had multiple surgeries to remove his prostate and repair the damage to his bladder. His wife, Carolyn, worked for many years at a local restaurant but retired due to being unable to work with her hands because of rheumatoid arthritis. Mr. Osborne experiences a lot of weakness from the cancer and sometimes has to use a wheelchair to move around. “Because of the Floor Covering Industry Foundation, we are able to buy groceries and always have food to eat. They also connected us with the Dalton Area Project where we received a ramp and repairs to our ceilings. We really appreciate the funding that the Foundation provided to help set the project up”. The Floor Covering Industry Foundation also helped with their mortgage payments and cancer treatments. Carolyn said the grant gave them, “A sense of peace through this storm.”
Oralia has been battling stage 4 invasive duct cancer of her breast which has spread to her bones. She’s a fighter though. To help provide for her family, she is still working on the plant floor when she is not traveling out of town for her chemotherapy treatments and taking time off to get her strength back. She has worked for 19 years in the floor coving industry in Dalton, GA, most recently as a Creeler. Even with health insurance, she still has large medical bills since some of her treatments are out of network. She is very thankful that industry leaders organized the Floor Covering Industry Foundation, which provided a grant that is bridging her financial gap. The Foundation helped cover the cost of her medical care, prescriptions, transportation, and housing. Oralia shared, “It has helped me to pay off my medical bills and chemotherapy. Thank you!”
Overnight James accumulated $13,000 in medical bills, even with a discount from the hospital. At age 48, James Marx, a single father of two teenage girls, had a severe heart attack that left him in the hospital for days and scrambling to make ends meet. James is a veteran of the flooring industry, where he has dedicated 26 years of service. Currently employed at The Rug Market in Rochester, NY, he was thankful that the owner told him about the Floor Covering Industry Foundation. He received a medical grant that helped him over this unexpected obstacle. “The grant has truly taken the burden off my financial situation. I can afford to get health insurance and pay off medical bills. I am so grateful.” Now he is back doing the work he loves and providing for his daughters.
Meet The Nguyens
Growing up in Vietnam, Dung Nguyen’s life as a young boy was not easy. His father left a year after Dung was born, and his family struggled to make ends meet. But in 1995, things turned around. He became a United States Citizen and found work in the floor covering industry. Dung is now a 20-year veteran of the industry and is employed at a manufacturing company in Georgia as a weaver. He was enjoying life with his wife and two young children when, at age 43, he was diagnosed with stage 4 nasopharyngeal carcinoma, a rare form of head and neck cancer. The cancer spread, so Dung underwent surgery followed by weekly chemo and daily radiation treatments. He was forced to take some time off work, and even with health insurance, the medical bills and financial loss of being out of work took a financial toll on Dung and his family. Thankfully, a local non-profit shared with Dung’s wife about the Floor Covering Industry Foundation. She said, “The grant made life a lot easier. Thank you for everything you have done for us.”
Dawn Pieschek of Macco’s Floor Coverings in Green Bay, Wisconsin, is a recipient of a grant from FCIF, which helped to alleviate the financial burden she faced while undergoing chemotherapy.
Floor Trends May 2018. DALTON, GA.—For Dawn Pieschek of Macco’s Floor Coverings in Green Bay, Wisconsin, there are not enough words to describe just how grateful she is for the support of The Floor Covering Industry Foundation (FCIF).
FCIF’s mission to financially assist those who are or have been affiliated with the floor covering industry who experience catastrophic illnesses, severe disabilities, or other life-altering hardships, has helped Pieschek take the first steps to getting her life back on track after undergoing chemotherapy to treat ovarian cancer. “I am so grateful,” said Pieschek “You have no idea. [The grant] has let me sleep again at night. I can pay my bills again on time.” Pieschek, who has enjoyed working in the flooring industry for 20 years, learned about FCIF and its benefits from the owners of Macco’s, Jeff Macco and Jim Walters. After completing her final chemotherapy treatment, Pieschek says coming home to her first check from FCIF felt like a dream come true. “This grant is the most amazing gift I could have received,” she said. “I’m so overwhelmed with gratitude. I still feel like I’m dreaming.” With cancer and treatments behind her, Pieschek can get to doing the things she loves, like selling flooring, spending time with her loving family, traveling and doing craft projects. For more information about FCIF, visit fcif.org.
At 17-years-old, David Coley began his career in the floor covering industry as an installer. He fell in love with the work and eventually launched his own sales and installation business, Coley’s Floor Covering. It wasn’t long before his name became synonymous with quality craftsmanship. Unfortunately, in February of 2017 he was diagnosed with tongue cancer. He didn’t want to stop working, even when his doctors told him he needed to focus on fighting cancer. Through friends in the industry, David was connected with the Floor Covering Industry Foundation (FCIF). Through the non-profit, David received a grant that helped pay for housing, food, and medical expenses, so he could focus on his recovery. He also received funding to buy a hearing aid. “With six kids, the best way to keep in touch is by phone, and now I can call them and my grandkids and hear what they are telling me! I am so thankful for the help!” David Coley gave his life to his career in the floor covering industry, and The Foundation is happy to give back to him.
After her diagnosis of breast cancer in 2017, Melissa Taylor quickly realized the financial burden of this disease. “You never think to budget for cancer.” Her rare and rapidly growing cancer required frequent, aggressive treatments, so she had to take time off from work. A 23-year veteran of the floor covering industry, Melissa has worked the past 13 years in claims and customer communications at a manufacturing facility. She said she did not want to turn to her sons for financial help. “Parents are not supposed to rely on their kids. It should be the other way around. You want your kids to depend on you.” After a year of rigorous treatments and doctor visits, Melissa is now in remission. She has returned to work and learned not to take life for granted. “This grant saved my home, lowered my stress level, and gave me peace of mind. I stopped worrying so much about medical bills. My grandkids, God, and the Floor Covering Industry Foundation gave me the strength to push through this difficult time.”
Meet The Torabyan Family
Ararat Torabyan and his wife immigrated to the United States in the early 1990s when an earthquake destroyed their home in Armenia. They were able to rebuild their lives in California and started planning for a large family. Ararat spent the last 20 years building a career in the floor covering industry. The past sixteen years he has been self-employed as an installer, removing and installing hardwood and laminate flooring. “Our life was good. We had just bought our own home and had our second baby. Then I got sick.” Ararat was diagnosed with leukemia in 2009.
The hardest part was learning that he and his wife couldn’t have more children after his transplant. In 2015, Ararat faced another devastating diagnosis, oral cancer. But perhaps the most difficult news came later that year when his 13-year-old daughter, Anabell, was diagnosed with leukemia. With medical bills pouring in, Ararat was under a lot of financial stress, afraid he wouldn’t be able to take care of his family. “I kept getting calls from creditors. I felt like a failure. I was supposed to take care of my family.” He was behind on his mortgage and worried he would lose his house, but thanks to the Floor Covering Industry Foundation, that did not happen. “When I got my grant, I was emotional. I felt a huge weight off my chest. I felt secure. I knew I had our home for my family.”
Pictured is Ararat Torabyan, a flooring installer from California, and his family while traveling to Greece. The trip to Greece was their daughter Anabell's Make a Wish grant due to her love for Greek mythology. The Floor Covering Industry Foundation helped the family be able to keep their home while Aararat Torabyan recovered from leukemia and oral cancer and his daughter, Anabell fought leukemia.
Meet Steve and Jane (watch their video story here.)
Pamela Jane Love was diagnosed with stage 4 brain cancer in May 2017, and since then her life has changed drastically. A 30-year veteran of the floor covering industry, Mrs. Love worked the last 13 years at Mohawk Industries. Before she was diagnosed with cancer, she had plans to retire in a couple years. She and her husband, Steve, now have mounds of medical bills and they weren’t sure they would be able to make it financially. Soon after she was diagnosed with brain cancer, Steve broke his leg and they struggled even more. With both out of work, life has been difficult. Steve shared, “Everyone kept telling me I should get help, but I thought we could handle it on our own. After spending all our savings on medical bills, we were drained. Luckily, we were connected to the Floor Covering Industry Foundation and were awarded a grant to help with medical care and housing expenses. I couldn’t believe something like that existed, and we are extremely grateful for it”. Because of the Floor Covering Foundation, the Loves can enjoy the time they have together.
Meet J.W. and Brenda
“My biggest fear is getting behind on our mortgage and losing our home.” Not the kind of worry that anyone wants to face, especially while battling cancer.
Meet J.W. and his wife, Brenda. J.W. is fighting the hardest battle of his life. While still working 3rd shift as a tufting machine mechanic in Georgia, J.W. is receiving chemo treatments for stage 4 small cell lung cancer. He has worked in the floor covering industry for 15 years and is still going strong. His wife shared that the expenses from traveling several days a week for treatments, prescriptions, and medical bills has caused them to live day to day financially.
“Even with health insurance, the cost of J.W.’s treatment under the care of six different doctors is more than we can afford. Thankfully, the Floor Covering Industry Foundation is here to help. The grant we received has reduced our financial stress and provided hope that we can make it through this obstacle. I don’t know where would be without this assistance, quite possibly homeless.”
For the past seven years, she worked in a recycling facility that turned plastic bottles into carpet fiber. At the age of 52, she was not expecting to be planning chemotherapy treatments and then looking at 33 days of radiation therapy. Struggling to make ends while she was out of work for treatments, she wondered how she would survive financially. Even with health insurance and short-term disability insurance, she could not cover the costs of housing, food, and medical bills. Teresa shared, "the grant from FCIF has reduced my stress and the financial burden has been lifted. I am happy to have a team of supporters cheering for me!" Thanks to the Floor Covering Industry, her battle with breast cancer is a little easier.