At CCA Global Partners and our Carpet One Floor & Home division, we understands the value of community and the importance to give back at a local level. We examine the question of: how can our local businesses help feed their success back into the community? Since joining forces with the Stephen Sillers Tunnel to Towers Foundation, we’ve been able to do exactly that, honoring veterans and first responders who have dedicated their lives to keeping us safe. The Tunnel to Towers Foundation has raised $250 million with various events across the United States, and continues to aid military and front-line heroes, only upping their efforts during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Through our involvement with the Tunnel to Towers foundation, we’ve been lucky enough to participate not only in their annual Tunnel to Towers 5K Run and Walk in New York City but also their Smart Home program. This program builds mortgage-free smart homes for the nation’s most catastrophically injured veterans.
When Carpet One Floor & Home began its relationship with the Stephen Siller Foundation six years ago, we provided the missing link to the smart home program. While the Stephen Siller Foundation already had the building supplies, landscaping and electronics needed for the smart homes, they did not have a reliable relationship with a company for flooring or window treatment supplies.
Alongside Mohawk —and their brand Daltile—we provide all of the flooring for these homes. Previously, the smart home program had been using carpet flooring solutions throughout the houses, which was occasionally hard for residents in wheelchairs who often ran into issues such as snagging or getting caught on cracks in the floors. Now, with the relationship formed between Carpet One Floor & Home and Mohawk, we provide the smart homes with hardwood floors and resilient flooring that will last a lifetime. Depending on where the veteran’s smart home is located throughout the country, local Carpet One Floor & Home members provide all of the labor and installation to complete the floors.
Additionally, through our relationship with Hunter Douglas, we donate Hunter Douglass window products to finish the smart homes and use our contacts at Ace Hardware to help with other furnishings.
Since the beginning of our relationship with the Stephen Siller Tunnel to Towers Foundation, Carpet One Floor & Home has provided flooring and installation to more than 60 smart homes across the country.
“It feels so good to give something back to these wounded heroes for what they have sacrificed for our freedom, even if it's just a home,” CCA’s Vice President of Member Services and Operations Frank Santaniello explained. “It gives the wounded veterans back their independence…the freedom and the identity to live on their own again and to provide for themselves. The smart homes allow the wounded veterans to be able to open up their cupboards on their own, to turn the water on to wash the dishes, to turn the lights on and off when needed…simple everyday things that are taken for granted by everyone were challenging for some of the wounded veterans due to their injuries until they got their smart home.”
Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, staff from CCA Global Partners and Carpet One Floor & Home as well as the local members who installed the flooring often traveled to the smart home dedications all over the country to personally welcome the veterans and their families home.
“The deeply emotional feelings you get when you are making a difference for these veterans, you cannot put a price on that,” Frank said. “Seeing them smile, seeing their families and kids smile when they see their new home for the first time, it makes all the difference in the world and we work harder for that.”
The last Sunday in September each year, the Tunnel to Towers Foundation organizes an annual 5K race in downtown New York City to honor Stephen Siller’s sacrifice as well as all of the other brave men, women and children that died on 9/11 back in 2001 . Our Carpet One Floor & Home members travel from all over the country and Canada to participate in the race and both CCA offices in St. Louis and Manchester send busloads of staff to the event. At the most recent race back in 2019, CCA was the top fundraiser for the event raising over $326,000!
Unfortunately, due to the pandemic, the annual 5K race was cancelled for September 2020. Some CCA staff and members still participated in the program via a virtual race and walk that encouraged employees to explore local memorials, monuments and firehouses within their own town. Even though CCA staff and members were not in NYC for the 5K, we were there in spirit and continue to find ways to contribute to the Tunnel to Towers Foundation during these times.
“This last year in dealing with Covid, it really hurt our momentum regarding fundraising for Tunnel to Towers because we really didn't have opportunities to get out their and spread the word about Tunnel to Towers and donate as much to the Foundation,” Frank said. “With COVID, the smart homes temporarily stopped in production due to travel bans out of state and social distancing protocols and essentially almost a year went by with not much progress. The lack of involvement with Tunnel to Towers this past year weighs heavy on our members and I know that as things start to get back to normal that our members will once again come out and support Tunnel to Towers as they have in the past .”
Director of Operations at CCA Cathy Salvaggio agrees, and after the race was cancelled this year, she began making a monthly donation to the Stephen Siller foundation which gives 93% of donations directly to the programs.
“For $11 a month, you're helping with building homes for [veterans],” she said. “It gives back to the communities at a local level. [The Siller family] is dealing with it first hand with the loss of their brother, so they're taking care of [veterans] in each respective community.”
From organizing bake sales to pizza nights to managing the tent at the annual race, Cathy has been a part of the Tunnel to Towers program since it’s beginning at Carpet One Floor & Home. Cathy has a huge responsibility, coordinating staff housing and logo wear for the event. She says that nothing beats the feeling of delirious exhaustion on the days following the race.
“That whole weekend, I am just one hundred percent in the race,” Cathy said. “It's probably the most rewarding. It's exhausting but it's a good exhaustion.”
In past years, more than 400 people from CCA Global Partners and Carpet One Floor & Home member stores have participated in the New York City-based race. Frank says it’s an unbeatable feeling when you actively engage in the race very year.
“There's nothing like experiencing it because you feel good doing it, you're making a difference and then when you go to the event, it's one of the most uplifting events and weekends you could experience,” Frank explained. “And it makes it even better that it’s the whole company and our members experiencing it together.”
As a cooperative, we have a fighting entrepreneurial spirit that keeps our members engaged in not only their own success, but the success of those around them.
“There's a sense of just giving back that's really nice,” Frank said. “Our cooperative is very unique...I think we know what it's like to fight. Our members fight every day to gain customers, to stay open to provide for their families.”
As the 20th Anniversary of 9/11 approaches, members and staff at CCA are holding out hope that the September race will happen once again, as they hope to out-do their last fundraising goal. Cathy acknowledges that even if CCA and Carpet One members are unable to attend the race this year, she knows they will hold many other fundraising events in its place like silent auctions, golf tournaments and pizza nights, because CCA understands the importance of community support more than ever before.
“I just think that CCA as a whole is different than any company I've ever worked for,” Cathy noted. “I look forward to spending my [years] until I retire here because I wouldn't want to be anywhere else.”