19 Apr VIDEO: A Partnership for the Long Haul: How Rooms To Go Collaborates with Good360 to Focus on Long-Term Disaster Recovery
In the aftermath of 2017’s extremely active hurricane season, which spawned Hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria, American corporations responded with an outpouring of cash grants and in-kind donations to support recovery efforts.
Among them was Rooms To Go, a Florida-based furniture retailer that pledged $2 million in cash gifts to national and local charities. The company also promised to provide furniture for more than 2,000 rooms to help hurricane survivors rebuild their homes.
The support from Rooms To Go put it among the most generous corporate donors, even more so than many far larger Fortune 500 companies.
It’s that kind of leadership that has helped the independent furniture chain grow to $2.4 billion in annual sales and 141 locations throughout the American South since its founding in 1990, making it one of America’s top five furniture retailers.
“We have a very strong sense of corporate responsibility,” said Janis Altshuler, Senior Vice President for Ecommerce at Rooms To Go. “We don’t do it for publicity’s sake. We do it because help is needed. We’re purely responding to what’s happening in our communities.”
The company’s philanthropic efforts led it to seek out a significant partnership with Good360 after the devastation of Hurricane Harvey and Irma.
By working with us, Rooms To Go was able to take advantage of our deep relationships with other nonprofits operating in disaster relief and recovery. The collaboration also allows the company to focus on what it does best — supplying quality furniture to families — while ensuring that donations are going to the right communities in need at the right time.
“Working with Good360 takes the struggle out of finding and vetting the right outlets to receive our furniture,” Altshuler said. “It’s not our business to know if someone is truly needy or not. Though their on-the-ground relationships, Good360 helps us determine the needs of families who are devastated by disaster and how we can best assist them in their rebuilding process.”
Although Rooms To Go had contributed some help to smaller projects with Good360 in the past, our biggest collaboration to date has focused on disaster recovery following the record rainfall and flooding in Baton Rouge in 2016. The company had donated cash grants to charities early on in the disaster, but it wasn’t until this February that the company actually made a delivery of furniture to families whose homes had been damaged or destroyed by the flooding.
That’s because the company, working in collaboration with our disaster team, sought to identify the most appropriate time to come in with donations of home furniture. Those furnishings weren’t needed in the immediate aftermath of the floods, when it was more important to provide food, shelter, and “mucking-and-gutting” supplies.
The timing also illustrates the company’s commitment to providing assistance through the prolonged stages of disaster recovery, not just at the onset.
“We’re in it for the long haul,” Altshuler said. “We’re just at the beginning of understanding the full extent of the long-term needs for people hit by the hurricanes last year in Florida and Houston. We definitely want to partner with Good360 to help families as they get back on their feet. They’re going to need furniture to fill their homes.”
In Baton Rouge, Rooms To Go brought in three semi-trucks full of new furniture to outfit 30 homes that had been identified by Good360 and our nonprofit partner, All Hands and Hearts — Smart Response, as needing the assistance. The company not only supplied the furnishings and provided the transportation, but it also sent a crew to Louisiana from its Florida headquarters to help with the unloading and staging of furniture.
“We know that after every disaster, families who are trying to rebuild their homes have three big needs: a place to sit, a place to eat, and a place to sleep,” Altshuler said. “We’re happy that we can provide these things to people in need.”
We expect our partnership with Rooms To Go to deepen with more opportunities to provide long-term disaster recovery such as the one in Baton Rouge. It’s these kinds of cross-sector collaborations that reinforce our unique model of bringing together companies and nonprofit organizations to empower communities in need and create sustainable change.