The stars came out to shine on Oct. 9 as the industry hosted a gala at the iconic Rainbow Room to benefit the Floor Covering Industry Foundation (FCIF). With the picturesque Manhattan skyline as the backdrop, 20-some-odd tables of 10 were populated by a who’s who of the flooring industry who came to support a great cause. One inarguable fact: This industry cleans up well.
I could go on and on about the gala—how great it was to see everyone, how wonderful the event was, etc., but that’s obvious. What’s not obvious is the organization’s visibility. As the publisher of an industry-leading trade magazine, I take it for granted that everyone is aware of everything that appears in our pages. But I’m also a bit naïve.
A few weeks ago I was with my friend Katie Ford here in New York. Katie has held various significant positions in this industry over the last 20 years with stops at most of the top manufacturers. Katie is smart as a whip, knows everything about everything and is well respected. But when I mentioned the Floor Covering Industry Foundation gala, I was met with a blank stare. “What’s that?”
I was talking to a member of the National Floorcovering Alliance around the same time. I told her I had a couple of extra seats at my table and asked if she wanted to clean up and join us at the gala. The response? “What’s that?”
The cold, hard fact: The people who know about the FCIF know about it, and those who don’t know, well, don’t. As an FCIF board member, it puts into focus the organization’s biggest challenge, which is not fundraising—it’s awareness. I sit in on countless board meetings where a recurring topic is how do we make more people aware of this organization and the impact it makes so they can apply for grants?
One initiative that might bear fruit is the launch of an FCIF marketing committee headed up by Sam O’Krent, one of the smartest retailers in the country. He has already done some outreach, with more planned in the fourth quarter and into 2022.
In addition, all the flooring industry trade magazines contribute full-page ads to draw attention to the organization. We sometimes run stories—probably not enough. We need to get more recipients to be flag bearers for the organization, but that can be dicey as not everyone is comfortable divulging their personal hardships.
For now, I am hoping to enlighten and activate readers of this column. Up until now, the majority of grants have gone to members of the manufacturing community—factory workers and the like. But retailers are more than eligible, so here’s a synopsis of what you should know:
The Floor Covering Industry Foundation gets families back on their feet when battling catastrophic injuries, severe disabilities or other life-altering medical crises. It has been around for 40 years, and the 501(c)3 charitable non-profit helps those who have worked in the floor covering industry by providing direct grants for medical care and other basic needs.
Grants are awarded based on need for expenses such as medical care, medications, medical supplies and other expenses directly related to beneficiary care as well such as food, shelter and utilities.
The FCIF’s criteria for grants are:
1. Severe illnesses, injury or disability
2. Extreme financial need
3. Service to the floor covering industry from a household member of five-plus years
Beneficiaries have included:
• a creeler in a flooring manufacturing plant who has invasive stage 4 breast cancer that has spread to her bones
• a flooring installer and his teenage daughter who are both battling leukemia
• a lift-truck operator who had part of his foot amputated
• a sales manager whose husband has lung cancer and a brain tumor
• a shipping clerk whose 3-year-old daughter is deaf and has developmental delays requiring special therapy
You can go to fcif.org for more information. Everything stays confidential. If you need assistance, FCIF is here to help. There’s no shame in reaching out.