“The purpose of life is not to be happy. It is to be useful, to be honorable, to be compassionate, to have it make some difference that you have lived and lived well.” ― Ralph Waldo Emerson
A few months ago a new non-profit moved to town, without much fanfare. Today, I want to introduce you to the Floor Covering Industry Foundation. Originally chartered in 1981 in Washington D.C., the Foundation has found homes in Chicago, Illinois and then Anaheim, California, before making the journey back to the East Coast to its new home in the Carpet Capital of the World - Dalton, Georgia late last year. Back in 1981, three of the founding board members were Daltonians: J.B. Maffet from World Carpet which is now part of Mohawk, Harry I. Saul from Queen Carpet - now part of Shaw Industries, and Robert E. Shaw current owner and CEO of Engineered Floors.
As you can see, the organization has at its roots the same leadership that ignited the floor covering industry and has driven the economic development of Northwest Georgia. The motive for the creation of the non-profit? To provide a way for individuals and companies to provide direct financial assistance to individuals in the industry who were experiencing catastrophic illness, injuries, or living with life-altering disabilities. The mission remains the same today.
At the core of any strong organization are committed volunteers who drive impact. In the past few months I have had the opportunity to visit with our board members – some who are in North Georgia and others who are industry leaders across the country. I asked our Executive Board why they are passionate about this cause. Check out their reasons for giving.
Legacy of Industry Leaders
Howard Brodsky, Co-Founder, Chairman, and Co-Chief Executive Officer of CCA Global Partners, serves as the Chairman of the board and Larry Nagle, President of N.L. Nagle, Inc. is the current Vice-Chair of the board. Larry has been a staunch advocate and fundraiser for the organization since its humble beginnings, “there were four individuals who drove the formation of the Foundation: Harry Saul, Walter Guinan, Al Wahnon, and myself. It is a pleasure to be part of the great generosity of our industry.”
Relief for People Experiencing Trauma
Roger S. Marcus, Chairman & CEO of American Biltrite, shared, “What could be more heartwarming than supporting a family that has nowhere to turn due to a medical situation?” In the past couple months, the organization has awarded grants to individuals with breast cancer, Hodgkin's lymphoma, squamous cell cancer, diabetes, and pancreatic cancer. Though all of these families have medical insurance to help off-set the financial hit, many are unable to continue to work and have loss of income due to chemotherapy treatments, exhaustion, or severe physical limitations.
Helping My Colleagues in Floor Covering
The generous gifts are truly examples of co-workers helping co-workers, giving a breath of relief in times of crisis. Dana Teague, Vice President Global Exhibitions, shared that her company, Informa and the trade show TISE, “are committed to the Floor Covering Industry Foundation. This is one of only a handful of industries that takes care of their own in time of need.”
Tim Baucom, Executive Vice President-Residential Division at Shaw Industries, echoed that the "flooring community is strengthened when we lift each other up when hard times strike.”
Investing in Something Bigger Than Profit
"So much of what we do is measured by "dollars and cents" or increased productivity. The Foundation is measured by the impact on the lives of those who have helped to make this industry a viable one for all of us. Personally, it is the feel good part of my job and an opportunity to both pay it forward and give back,” shared Scott Humphrey. The non-profit benefits from donated office space and contributed staff from the World Floor Covering Association, which Humphrey is CEO, in addition to serving as the Board President of the Foundation.
Direct Impact - No Middle Man
Keith Campbell, Chairman of the Board at Mannington, noted his reason to give, “A gift directly helps those in our industry who are dealing with debilitating and catastrophic illness by providing financial resources to meet their obligations.” Unlike many foundations who pass funds to other non-profits, schools, or government programs, the Floor Covering Industry Foundation makes awards directly to families in despair. Grants are paid to the individual who applies and provide assistance with meeting monthly housing, utility, food, prescription, medical bills, and other approved case specific expenses - for example a wheelchair. The applicants can receive a one-time award and possibly an additional monthly award for 6 months.
What amazes me is the level of stewardship we offer donors. To have CEOs, owners, and executive leaders reviewing each grant applicant and making decision on awards, goes to show each dollar is put to its highest and best use. Our board of directors is very hands on. They ensure that we are maximizing the grants in ways that transform lives.
Other Board members include: Ralph Boe - RJBOE Enterprise LLC, Carl Bouckaert - Beaulieu of America, Lisa Browning - National Floorcovering Alliance, Mark Clayton - Phenix Flooring, Jonathan Cohen - Stanton Carpet, Charlie Dilks - CCA Global Partners, Inc., Piet Dossche - US Floors, Steve Feldman - Floor Covering News, Kennedy Frierson - The Dixie Group, Jeff Golden - JG Media Group, Philip Gutierrez - Abbey Carpet Company, Kemp Harr - Floor Focus Magazine, Tim Koorbusch – Floor Covering Weekly, Jeanne Matson - Starnet Worldwide, Paul Murfin - IVC Inc., a Division of Mohawk Industries, Sam O’Krent - O’Krent’s Abbey Flooring Center, Stephen C. Silverman - Abbey Carpet Company , and Bruce Zwicker - J.J. Haines & Co., Inc.
How Does an FCIF Grant Work?
The organization currently makes grants on a rolling basis. Human Resources professionals in the industry are encouraged to post an application on their intranets and request posters for breakrooms.
· A household member must have worked in the floor covering industry for 5+ years. Those years do not have to be consecutive and could have been in the past. Grants are also made to retirees.
· The individual is experiencing a life-altering event, for example diagnosis of a major illness, severe injury due to car accidents, child born with disabilities, care of elderly parent with dementia, etc.
· The applicant should have the ability to demonstrate their monthly expenses are above the household’s monthly income and/or that the one-time medical or other expenses present a large financial burden on the family.
· Complete an application package at fcif.org.
Applications are accepted on a rolling basis. Due to medical and financial review, it takes at least 30 days for a grant decision to be made once the applicant has submitted a full application package.
The Floor Covering Industry Foundation helps family and friends in floor covering when they are fighting the hardest battles of their lives. The Foundation is a 501(c)3 non-profit funded by companies and individuals in the industry. You can give by visiting fcif.org, calling 706.217.1183, or emailing me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Checks can be mailed to the Foundation office at 855 Abutment Road, Dalton, GA 30721.
Thank you to everyone who has welcomed the Foundation to Dalton and congratulated me on joining the team.
This column by Andrea Dobbins, FCIF Executive Director, appeared in the 3/26/17 Dalton Daily Citizen News.