Tile America Hosts Soles4Souls Shoe Drive to Fight Global Poverty

New Haven, CT – One person’s unwanted shoes can help provide meaningful opportunities that many in developing nations need. Tile America launched a shoe drive to collect 1,000 pairs of new or gently-worn shoes for Soles4Souls, a non-profit social enterprise that creates sustainable jobs and provides relief through the distribution of shoes and clothing around the world.

The 1,007 pairs of donated shoes will be distributed to Soles4Souls’ micro-enterprise programs that create jobs in Haiti, Honduras and other developing nations. The micro-enterprise model provides individuals the ability to start small businesses by providing a steady supply of high- quality, low-cost product. They also give a second life to unwanted shoes, keeping them out of landfills and protecting the environment.

Tile America personnel with shoes

(L to R) Laurie Ruotolo, Tile America Purchasing Manager and HR Administrator, Brian Knies, Tile America President and Owner and Cailin Cerruto, Tile America Executive Assistant with shoes donated to Soles4Souls

 

“We were overwhelmed with the response we received,” said Brian Knies, Owner and President of Tile America. “Shoes started pouring in as employees cleaned out their closets and solicited donations from friends and family members. We were very excited to reach our goal of over 1000 pairs and are thrilled to support this wonderful charity.”

The World Bank estimates that approximately 767 million people live on less than $1.90 per day. Many people living in extreme poverty simply do not have access to stable employment. The income generated by selling just one pair of shoes in Haiti can provide up to five meals for a family in need, whereas 30 pairs sold by an entrepreneur in Honduras can provide up to a year of schooling for a child.

About Tile America Gives Back 

In 2018 Tile America initiated Tile America Gives Back, a program with a Corporate Social Responsibility Statement of: “Tile America is committed to improving our local, national, and global communities. Our obligation is to consistently use our collective resources, intellect, and abilities as a successful company to improve conditions both socially and environmentally.” Each quarter the employees of Tile America set forth on a mission to help those in need.


About Soles4Souls Soles4Souls disrupts the cycle of poverty by creating sustainable jobs and providing relief through the distribution of shoes and clothing around the world. Headquartered in Nashville, Tennessee, the organization re-purposes product to supply its micro-enterprise, disaster relief and direct assistance programs. Since 2006, it has distributed more than 35 million pairs of shoes in 127 countries. Visit soles4souls.org for more information.

NTCA contractors contribute to R.I.S.E. program home

NTCA and members of the tile industry have been strong supporters of the Gary Sinise Foundation’s Restoring Independence Supporting Empowerment (R.I.S.E.) program, which builds specially-adapted smart homes tailored to the needs of wounded veterans across the nation.

NTCA contractors John Mourelatos (l.) and James Woelfel at the home dedication.

NTCA contractors John Mourelatos (l.) and James Woelfel at the home dedication.

Recently, a 3,300 sq. ft. smart home was constructed in Tucson, Ariz., for United States Army Sergeant First Class (Ret.) Caleb Brewer and his family. Two Arizona-based NTCA contractor members – Mourelatos Tile Pro from Tucson (also a NTCA State Ambassador) and Artcraft Granite, Marble and Tile, a NTCA Five-Star Contractor from Mesa — donated tile installation services, with materials for the project donated by Arizona Tile, and setting materials by MAPEI.

 

United States Army Sergeant First Class Caleb Brewer (Ret.) , with wife Ashley and daughters Evelyn and Emily at the groundbreaking.

United States Army Sergeant First Class Caleb Brewer (Ret.) , with wife Ashley and daughters Evelyn and Emily at the groundbreaking.

Sgt. Caleb Brewer

United States Army Sergeant First Class Caleb Brewer (Ret.) joined the armed forces while in high school and served as an Intelligence Analyst in the Army Reserves and a Green Beret. On December 4, 2016 (his 31st birthday), while deployed to Afghanistan, an explosion at a Taliban improvised explosive device (IED) factory resulted in Caleb losing both legs and sustaining other serious injuries. Yet just three months later, Caleb learned to walk on a single prosthetic leg and went on to relearn surfing, shooting, running, and rock climbing with his new prosthetic legs. He’s even completed events such as the Army 10 Miler run and the Bataan Memorial Death March.

Caleb and his wife Ashley live with their two daughters, Evelyn and Emily, in Tucson, where he is currently taking care of his two daughters full time at home. The 100% mortgage-free, specially-adapted smart home provided by the Gary Sinise Foundation will greatly increase his ability to perform necessary daily functions with ease.

 

A customized home for a wounded veteran

The Gary Sinise Foundation worked with Caleb to determine what challenges and obstacles he faced in his previous home, and custom designed a new home so that Caleb could function as independently as possible.

In the kitchen, a French door oven was placed at an accessible height so Caleb could roll up, open the doors, and use the oven as anyone else would; ditto the microwave.  The kitchen design included roll-under areas below the sink and cooktop and custom pull-down shelving in the cabinetry to give Caleb complete access to everything in the kitchen.

The master bath shower design was customized so Caleb could pull his wheelchair up and transfer onto a bench with accessible controls and a hand-held shower faucet.  Mourelatos Tile Pro constructed a large masonry bench in the shower and installed Sun Touch wire heating system, purchased from Emser Tile, to heat the top surface of the bench.

Caleb in the shower installed by NTCA member Mourelatos Tile Pro of Tucson.

Caleb in the shower installed by NTCA member Mourelatos Tile Pro of Tucson.

“We worked closely with him on the finished height of the bench so that he can transfer to the bench from his wheelchair,” Mourelatos said. “We installed his shampoo niche lower above the bench and his wife’s shampoo niche higher up on the opposite wall.” Plenty of space allowed Caleb to maneuver in his wheelchair in the bathroom, including a roll-under area below his sink.

A home gym and workshop areas were also incorporated into the design of the home for Caleb, so he could maintain a healthy lifestyle and work with others with disabilities in the community who are looking for innovative ways to stay in shape.  A workshop area was also incorporated into the design of the home so he had a dedicated area to pursue this hobby and passion.

A home automation package allows Caleb to control various functions of the home from an iPad or phone, such as: video surveillance, automated blinds/shades, security system, automatic door locks, climate control, audio, and video.

 

Tailoring tile for transitions

In addition to normal considerations such as wider hallways, doorways, zero clearance thresholds, and oversized rooms in general, it was key to make sure transitions between hardwood and tile were smooth. The durability and timelessness of the tile in the entries and bathrooms were important considerations in the home.  And this is where our NTCA contractors came in.

It was important that transitions - like this one in the the master bathroom -- were smooth between different floor coverings.

It was important that transitions – like this one in the the master bathroom — were smooth between different floor coverings.

Jim Olson, NTCA assistant executive director, contacted John Mourelatos of Mourelatos Tile Pro and the Gary Sinise Foundation contacted James Woelfel of Artcraft Granite, Marble and Tile to determine if they were both interested in the project. After an enthusiastic affirmation, builder Hayes Construction began working with Mourelatos and Woelfel on an estimate.

The contractors studied the plans and decided among themselves what areas of the home they would tackle: Mourelatos would install tile in the master bathroom, which included floor and shower;

Artcraft would take the kitchen, the laundry, Caleb’s training area restroom and his children’s bathroom. The builder, both contractors and Caleb met with Scott Kuzma at Arizona Tile to select the tile material; later on Mourelatos met with the Brewers to select grout colors for all the tiled areas.

John Mourelatos, being local in Tucson, helped out with planning and coordinating of material and selection to minimize the need for Woelfel to drive up from Mesa, and the companies communicated about details via phone and email. “I kept James updated about the progress of the build and sent him pictures along the way prior to our start date,” Mourelatos said. “Ed Siebern worked in the master bathroom while the three installers from Artcraft worked in the guest bath and kitchen.”   Siebern, a Certified Tile Installer, was at the job full time to complete prep work and tile installation.

The Mourelatos Tile Pro crew includes (L. to r.): Certified Tile Installer Ed Siebern, John Mourelatos, Caleb and Ashley Brewer and installer Cody Elmer.

The Mourelatos Tile Pro crew includes (L. to r.): Certified Tile Installer Ed Siebern, John Mourelatos, Caleb and Ashley Brewer and installer Cody Elmer.

Eager to serve

Both contractors were eager to donate their time on this project as a debt of gratitude.

“We as a nation cannot do enough for our veterans, especially our wounded heroes,” said Woelfel, who added that he was gratified by “the look on [Caleb’s] and his family’s face when they saw the finished product.”

James Woelfel, of NTCA Five-Star Contractor Artcraft Granite Marble and Tile Co., Mesa, Ariz., speaking at the home dedication

James Woelfel, of NTCA Five-Star Contractor Artcraft Granite Marble and Tile Co., Mesa, Ariz., speaking at the home dedication

Mourelatos said over the years, he’d watched the work done on the R.I.S.E. program homes; so when he discovered one was being built “less than five miles from my house, I became excited about the opportunity,” he said.

“After meeting the Brewers, and learning about their story of service, family, and faith, I knew this was a project I wanted to be a part of,” Mourelatos continued. “We have donated our time for tile installation in the past (Extreme Makeover House here in Tucson), but this project meant so much more. My installer [Ed Siebern] has a son that is in a wheelchair, born with Cerebral Palsy, and he was very passionate about being involved in this installation. This was an opportunity to do something for a family that has given so much, and continues to give back to the community.”

 

Donated products include:

Arizona Tile

  • 12” x 24” Cemento Cassero Grigio Porcelain Tile
  • 3” x 12” Bullnose tile
  • 12” x 12” Flat Pebble Cool Blend Stone Mosaic
  • 16” x 24” Regis Porcelain Tile
  • 12” x 24” WF Jog Porcelain Tile
  • 1”x 4” Shimmer Abalone Glass Tile
  • 8”x 8” Marrakesh Grey Matte Porcelain Tile

 

MAPEI

  • Aquadefense waterproofing membrane
  • LFT Mortar
  • Flexcolor CQ grout
  • Mapesil T silicone
  • Linear drain
  • Adesilex P10 White Mortar
  • 4 to 1 Mud Bed Mix
  • Planitop 330 Fast
  • Mapelastic CI

NSI Completes 17th Home with Gary Sinise Foundation

Oberlin, OH, November 13, 2018—The Natural Stone Institute has provided natural stone and fabrication services for its seventeenth home with the Gary Sinise Foundation’s R.I.S.E. program (Restoring Independence Supporting Empowerment). The R.I.S.E. program builds specially adapted smart homes for severely wounded veterans and first responders. Natural stone, fabrication, and installation for US Army Sergeant Legrand Strickland in Missouri were provided by Global Granite & Marble, Murphy Marble, Ford Marble, and Earthworks.

U.S. Army Sergeant Legrand Strickland (Ret) with wife Carrie and new specially-adapted smart home.

Born in Minnesota and raised in Missouri, United States Army Sergeant Legrand Strickland (Ret.) joined the Army two years out of high school. After his first enlistment, he entered the National Guard as an Infantry Rifleman. He then graduated college while in the Guard with a degree in graphic design. Upon re-enlistment, Legrand was a part of the 82nd Airborne Division. Returning from a mission in Zabul, Afghanistan on February 2, 2010, Legrand witnessed an improvised explosive device (IED) strike his Commander’s vehicle ahead of him. His Commander survived the blast and joined Legrand in his vehicle. As they drove away, Legrand’s last memory is being struck by another large explosive. Legrand survived, but his Commander and the driver did not. In critical condition, Legrand was flown to the nearest hospital, then to Germany, then to Ft. Sam Houston Brooke Army Medical Center. He sustained many injuries, including bilateral above-knee amputations and traumatic brain injury (TBI).

Laura Grandlienard (ROCKin’teriors), chair of the Natural Stone Institute R.I.S.E. committee said: “Being involved with the R.I.S.E. program enables our industry to take a leadership role in supporting these veterans and their families who have endured so much to protect our freedoms. We feel tremendous pride in sharing our talents for such an important cause. It’s a beautiful feeling to say ‘welcome home’ to these heroes.”

44 Natural Stone Institute members have donated their time, products, and services to this cause since 2016. A list of all donors can be found at www.naturalstoneinstitute.org/RISE. Stone companies interested in getting involved with future projects are encouraged to contact Pam Hammond at [email protected].

Emser Tile Supports Hurricane Michael Disaster Relief

This is the company’s second Red Cross contribution this year, dedicated to Southeastern rebuilding

 

LOS ANGELES – In the aftermath of Hurricane Michael, Emser Tile (www.emser.com) has made a $10,000 donation to the American Red Cross. This donation supports local humanitarian services and programs in the Florida Panhandle area.

The Los Angeles-based tile and stone company operates six showrooms and service centers. It recently opened a Florida distribution center to service thousands of valued customers and partners in the Florida region.

This marks the company’s second American Red Cross donation this year. Its first donation was following Hurricane Florence in September.

“The resilience of these communities shines in this time of devastation,” shared Carl Delia, president of Emser Tile. “Emser Tile is dedicated to supporting the families who have been impacted as they begin to rebuild.”

 

NTCA member Evergreen Tile & Stone suffers huge loss: how to help

On September 11, Pavlo (aka Pasha) Starykov of Star Tile & Stone, LLC reported on the “NTCA Members Only” Facebook group that his good friend and NTCA member 39-year old Andrey Zelenko suffered a terrible tragedy. Zelenko went on a boat trip on the Columbia River with his wife, 41-year old Natalia (aka Natasha), on Sunday, September 2. Unfortunately their boat collided with another boat beneath the Camas Slough bridge and Natasha was killed. Andrey sustained serious injuries.   (https://youtu.be/QwfNeQGaqJk).

 

Starykov said that currently, Andrey is in stable condition as he is slowly recovering, and has learned of the loss of his wife, who “who was his best friend on earth.” Starykov said, “He doesn’t know yet how he will live without her. His friends and relatives are with him all the time at the hospital. The full physical recovery will take at least 3-4 months. If you could say a few words of support, I will read it to Andrey.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Andrey’s friends and relatives have set up a fundraiser to aid with funeral costs, and all the costs that will incur with medical treatment and time away from work for him, Starykov said. Monetary gifts are very much appreciated but they are asking for everyone to please pray for Andrey to recover and for God to carry him through this the most difficult time in his life. To donate to the fundraiser, visit:

https://www.gofundme.com/memorial-fund-for-natasha-zelenko

Andrey is the owner of Evergreen Tile & Stone, LLC (Gladstone, Ore.), with wife Natasha. The company joined NTCA in April during a workshop hosted by Robb Roderick in Portland. He had been considering taking the CTI test.

Roderick recently visited Andrey in Portland where he is undergoing physical therapy for recovery from broken leg and ribs, shoulder dislocation, punctured lung and several lacerations.

Roderick said, “Andrey has a deep faith which is sustaining him during this dark and terrible time. He is unable to install tile in his present condition. So If any of you have extra money and would like to help support Andrey during this time of recovery there is a gofundme page set up for that very purpose (link above). The NTCA has already donated to this cause. But, more important than financial support, continue to support Andrey with your thoughts and prayers, which could be the greatest gift and the best medicine he could receive during this time of healing.”

Support requested for family of Julio Cesar Leiva of The Tile & Grout King

The Tile & Grout King employee suffered a fatal stroke at age 30 while on the job

NTCA member The Tile & Grout King, Inc., (T&GK) recently suffered a sad and sudden loss with the untimely passing of one of the company employees, Julio Cesar Leiva, at age 30.

Julio Cesar Leiva with his wife and young daughter

Hany Louis of The Tile & Grout King in Santa Clara, Calif., wrote, “It’s been a sad week for The Tile & Grout King Family. Julio Cesar Leiva was not only one of my most kind-hearted and hard-working employees, but he was like a brother to all of us. I am sad to say that a stroke took his life on Tuesday morning [June 12] while he was working. He was in his early 30s and had so much life left to live. He left behind a wonderful wife and a beautiful 10-month old daughter. We are all heartbroken over his loss. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family and everyone that had the honor of calling him a friend.

“Today the awesome crew of the T&GK team put together $2,318 from their own pockets to help his family with all the unexpected expenses that they will surely have to deal with. The T&GK matched that amount, but any additional contributions would help his family out tremendously during these hard times that they’re going through.” A GoFundMe account has been set up to support the family at https://www.gofundme.com/julio-cesar-leiva.

Louis added, “Life is mysterious and no one knows when it’s their time to go. We hope that Julio knows that while he was taken from us so unexpectedly and at such a young age, he will always be a member of our family. We also hope that he will rest assured knowing that his family will be taken care of, because they are now permanently a part of our family.”

DAL-TILE PROVIDES JOBS FOR CHARITY WORK-STUDY PROGRAM

Dallas, TX – April 20, 2018 – Dal-Tile Corporation is a founding member of the Dallas Cristo Rey High School and most recently hosted a luncheon to celebrate several of its students, who also work at Dal-Tile headquarters as part of an innovative corporate work-study program.

“Cristo Rey self-describes as the only network of high schools in the country that integrates four years of rigorous college preparatory academics with four years of professional work experience through their Corporate Work Study Program,” said Tena Boyd, HR support services manager, Dal-Tile.  “The Cristo Rey Network delivers a powerful and innovative approach to inner-city education that equips students from economically-disadvantaged families with the knowledge, character, and skills to transform their lives. Dal-Tile is so pleased to get to be a part of this program.”

Students generally work one day per week at Dal-Tile and the company pays the school for the student worker’s time, to help fund their tuition.  During the celebratory luncheon, each of Dal-Tile’s student workers presented the key things they have learned during their year on the job with Dal-Tile.

 

DAL-TILE EMPLOYEES READ TO LOCAL SCHOOL CHILDREN IN CELEBRATION OF DR. SUESS’ BIRTHDAY

Dallas, TX – April 3, 2018 – As part of its “Legacy of Giving” program, Dal-Tile employees recently conducted another installment of their ongoing reading program at Julius Dorsey elementary school in southeast Dallas.  This latest reading day was held as a birthday celebration for the iconic children’s book author, Dr. Suess whose talent for delighting children with stories that are clever, rhythmically rhyming, and delightfully silly knows no generational bounds.

“Giving is a core part of our Dal-Tile culture,” said Tena Boyd, HR support services manager, Dal-Tile Corporation.  “On an ongoing basis, we have many different ways in which our employees interact with the local schools to help make a difference in these young lives.  I don’t know who enjoyed the event more, the children or me!”

“Dorsey Elementary is always so appreciative of what Dal-Tile does to help make their students successful,” said Paula Calame, senior talent development specialist, Dal-Tile Corporation.  “It is always exciting to see what great things are taking place in our schools! I am so thankful that I work for an organization that values contributing to the community!”

“The kids really look forward to having us in the class, and reading was a lot of fun,” said Nellson Burns, vice president of information systems, Dal-Tile Corporation.  “I’m definitely going again.”

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About Dal-Tile

Dal-Tile is the largest manufacturer and marketer of ceramic tile, natural stone, and countertop products used in residential and commercial spaces across North America. Under its four powerhouse brands — Daltile, American Olean, Marazzi, and Ragno — Dal-Tile leads the industry in both design and product innovation, and is committed to incorporating environmentally-friendly materials, processes, and products throughout its organization.

Dal-Tile has more than 9,000 employees in North America and sells its products through a network of more than 300 company-owned sales service centers, stone slabyards, design galleries, and design studios, as well as through independent distributors and leading home center retailers nationwide.

Founded in 1947 and headquartered in Dallas, Dal-Tile is a division of Mohawk Industries, the leading global flooring manufacturer that creates products to enhance residential and commercial spaces around the world.  For more information on Dal-Tile and Mohawk Industries, please visit mohawkind.com.

 

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DAL-TILE EMPLOYEES SEND EASTER BASKETS TO CRITICALLY ILL CHILDREN FOR 27TH YEAR

Dallas, TX – March 20, 2018 – As part of its “Legacy of Giving” program, Dal-Tile employees recently conducted an internal fundraiser to send Easter baskets to critically ill children for the 27th year in a row.  The donations are annually given to the local charity “The Real Easter Bunny” that creates baskets filled with items for the “Special Needs” patients at Children’s Medical Center in Dallas, Texas.  Special Needs patients are those children who have been hospitalized for longer than 60 days for reasons such as cancer or bone marrow transplants, heart transplants, severe brain trauma, or loss of limbs.

“Our hope is to bring some Easter cheer to these children,” said Tena Boyd, HR support services manager, Dal-Tile.  “Each basket is filled with items that will provide activities for the children to enjoy while ill or recovering from surgeries.  This particular charity has touched the heart of many of our employees and every year the employees rally around this cause with their donations.”

About Dal-Tile

Dal-Tile is the largest manufacturer and marketer of ceramic tile, natural stone, and countertop products used in residential and commercial spaces across North America. Under its four powerhouse brands — Daltile, American Olean, Marazzi, and Ragno — Dal-Tile leads the industry in both design and product innovation, and is committed to incorporating environmentally-friendly materials, processes, and products throughout its organization.

Dal-Tile has more than 9,000 employees in North America and sells its products through a network of more than 300 company-owned sales service centers, stone slabyards, design galleries, and design studios, as well as through independent distributors and leading home center retailers nationwide.

Founded in 1947 and headquartered in Dallas, Dal-Tile is a division of Mohawk Industries, the leading global flooring manufacturer that creates products to enhance residential and commercial spaces around the world.  For more information on Dal-Tile and Mohawk Industries, please visit mohawkind.com.

 

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Warming Hearts: Warmup’s Focus and Commitment to the Connecticut Food Bank

Corporate Social Responsibility describes efforts made by companies to improve our society. By embracing social responsibilities in the workplace, companies can inspire and empower their employees in new ways every day. Warmup® believes in giving back to the community where it lives and works, and is proud to announce a partnership with the Connecticut Food Bank.

In September, Warmup® made a commitment to have employees volunteer at the Connecticut Food Bank every month. Since this time, the Warmup® team has donated goods as well as hundreds of hours of service to the organization’s main distribution center in Wallingford, Connecticut.

Working Together to Help Neighbors in Need

 Warmup is pleased to join forces with the Connecticut Food Bank to help fight hunger in the state of Connecticut where 1 in 8 people struggle with hunger (CT Food Bank, 2018).

Warmup employees are encouraged to participate in open volunteer sessions at the Connecticut Food Bank the first Thursday of each month. Willing individuals rotate attendance to participate in a volunteer session, sorting food for our neighbors in need instead of spending time in the office on their regular responsibilities. Food sorted by volunteers is regularly distributed across the state through a network of community-based programs.

 

About the Connecticut Food Bank

The Connecticut Food Bank is the largest source of emergency food in Connecticut. Last year the Connecticut Food Bank distributed enough food to prepare more than 21 million meals to people in need. Through mission-driven programs, the Connecticut Food Bank is able to reach the nearly half a million Connecticut residents that struggle with hunger across the state (CT Food Bank, 2018).

Volunteers are needed at the main distribution center on a weekly basis. Shifts are from 9am- 12pm, Monday through Friday and 1:00 pm to 3:00 pm, Monday through Thursday.

 

About Warmup

According to the company, Warmup is the world’s best-selling underfloor heating brand. The North American Warmup headquarters is located in Danbury, Connecticut and serves the United States, Canada, and Mexico. Warmup products are sold through retail locations and Warmup actively supports our partners in promoting and installing our heating products for comfort, primary heating, and snow melting purposes.

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