tThe stars shone on October 9 when the industry hosted a gala in the iconic Rainbow Room benefiting the Floor Covering Industry Foundation (FCIF). With the scenic Manhattan skyline in the background, some twenty tables of 10 were filled with a who’s who of the flooring industry who came to support a good cause. An indisputable fact: this industry cleans up well.
I could go on and on about the gala – how great it was to see everyone, how great the event was, etc., but that’s obvious. What is not obvious is the visibility of the organization. As the publisher of a leading trade magazine, I assume that everyone is aware of everything that appears on our pages. But I’m also a bit naive.
A few weeks ago I was here in New York with my friend Katie Ford. Katie has held several key positions in this industry over the past 20 years with stops at most of the top manufacturers. Katie is as smart as a whip, knows everything about everything and is respected. But when I mentioned the Floor Covering Industry Foundation gala, I got a blank stare. “What is that?”
I spoke to a member of the National Floorcovering Alliance around the same time. I told her I had a few extra chairs at my table and asked if she would clean up and come to the gala. The answer? “What is that?”
The cold, hard fact: The people who know the FCIF know about it, and those who don’t know, well, don’t. As an FCIF board member, it focuses on the organization’s biggest challenge, which is not: fundraising – it’s awareness. I attend countless board meetings where a recurring topic is: how do we make more people aware of this organization and the impact it is making, so that they can apply for grants?
One initiative that may be paying off is the launch of an FCIF marketing committee led by Sam O’Krent, one of the country’s smartest retailers. He’s already done some outreach, with more planned in the fourth quarter and in 2022.
In addition, all trade magazines in the flooring industry place full-page advertisements to draw attention to the organization. We have stories sometimes – probably not enough. We need to get more recipients to be flag bearers for the organization, but that can be tricky because not everyone feels comfortable revealing their personal hardships.
For now, I hope to enlighten and activate the readers of this column. Until now, most of the subsidies have gone to members of the manufacturing community – factory workers and the like. But retailers are more than eligible, so here’s a summary of what you need to know:
The Floor Covering Industry Foundation helps families get back on their feet when dealing with catastrophic injuries, severe disabilities, or other life-changing medical crises. Established for 40 years, the 501(c)3 non-profit charitable organization helps those who have worked in the flooring industry by providing direct grants for medical care and other basic needs.
Grants are awarded based on the need for expenses such as medical care, medications, medical supplies, and other expenses directly related to the beneficiary’s care, such as food, shelter, and utilities.
The FCIF’s criteria for grants are:
1. Serious Illnesses, Injuries or Disabilities
2. Extreme Financial Need
3. Service to the floor covering industry of a family member over five years
• a creeler in a flooring factory who has stage 4 invasive breast cancer that has spread to her bones
• a floorlayer and his teenage daughter who are both battling leukemia
• a forklift driver who has had part of his foot amputated
• a sales manager whose husband has lung cancer and a brain tumor
• a ship’s clerk whose 3-year-old daughter is deaf and has developmental delays that require special therapy
You can go to fcif.org for more information. Everything remains confidential. If you need help, FCIF is there for you. There’s no shame in getting in touch.