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Thursday, November 15, 2018

City

Mattress Mack continues community outreach a year after Hurricane Harvey


Gallery Furniture will open community outreach centers this fall. | Alana Howard/The Cougar

Gallery Furniture will open community outreach centers this fall. | Alana Howard/The Cougar

During Hurricane Harvey, Gallery Furniture owner Jim McIngvale opened the doors to his North Freeway and Grand Parkway locations to serve as refuge shelters, housing individuals displaced by the storm.

According to the Huffington Post, McIngvale, better known as “Mattress Mack,” not only provided shelter for storm victims but also helped to rescue evacuees.

Seeing a need for resources in the greater Houston community after Hurricane Harvey, McIngvale partnered with The WorkFaith Connection.

A Christ-centered organization, The WorkFaith Connection “exists to encourage disadvantaged job seekers in their hope for a better future and to equip them with the skills and beliefs to gain employment and lead healthy, productive and spiritually rich lives,” according to their website. 

To combat the increase in unemployment due to damages caused by Harvey, The WorkFaith Connection aims to bridge the unemployment gap by preparing individuals for their next job.

With Gallery Furniture’s implementation of a community center in its stores, The WorkFaith Connection will be even more accessible and successful than it was before.

“What Mack is doing is expanding our reach,” said CEO of the WorkFaith Connection Sandy Schultz. “We’ve already helped 5,000 job seekers return to work, but this will be an opportunity for us to work on a larger scale.”

When asked about his motivation for incorporating community centers into his retail stores, McIngvale said he began to realize that there are a lot of people in this city that need help and access to certain resources, including opportunities for employment, Schultz said.

“We equip them to be successful in their job search, find a coach to work with them one on one and additionally, we try to keep them motivated,” Schultz said.

Most people that come to the WorkFaith Connection receive a job within 90 days.

Half of the people that come to the WorkFaith Connection organization are people that are just being released from prison, and the other half face difficulties with life, whether it be after a divorce, low work experience, displaced individuals and more, she said.

“I think that was what Mack was very sensitive to. There’s a lot of people that have barriers, and that is going to make it harder for them to become employed,” Schultz said.

“As Mack would talk to them, he began to be aware that there were a lot of people in his store whose homes were flooded, but also were either unemployed or underemployed,” Schultz said. “So, what Harvey did was (bring) a problem into light that already existed in our city, and it just brought it to the forefront so that our city could band together to find a way to address the problem.”

As part of a continued partnership with the WorkFaith Connection, Gallery Furniture will begin providing access to community outreach programs at the North Freeway location in mid-September. The program is expected to branch out to the West Houston location, but the exact date has not been confirmed, Schultz said.

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