As an industry, we should recognize and be proud of the public service activities that dealers nationwide commit to each year, from contributing time and resources to local charities and non-profit groups to participating in our strong state, regional, and national LBM organizations. And as a voice of the industry, PROSALES should take a leading role in promoting and taking part in these efforts. I think we are doing a good job in these areas, but there's always room for improvement.

Taking this stance has prompted us to increase our coverage of philanthropic efforts, and in this issue we are proud to present our first annual “Public Service Leader” award. Our 2004 honor goes to Al Torrisi, president and CEO of third-generation Lawrence, Mass.–based Jackson Lumber & Millwork, who has an unending enthusiasm for giving back to the industry and his local community, and a steadfast commitment to actively serve every post he assumes (see page 64).

So many dealers I meet have this same drive and dedication, and they donate to countless causes on a regular basis. While we can't recognize every one individually in the pages of PROSALES, there is a way that the LBM industry can work as a group to raise the visibility of its charitable donations and public service: the Homebuilding Community Foundation (HCF). Founded in 2001 by a group of industry leaders—including James Pugash, chairman and CEO of Hearthstone, the largest U.S. institutional investor in residential development; David Hill, chairman and CEO of Kimball Hill Homes; and David Welles, chairman of Therma-Tru, among others—the organization offers an easy-to-use framework that allows participants from the construction industry to administer donations to the charities of their choice at any time through the Greater Houston Community Foundation, which manages investment pools that grow the value of funds tax-free and then handles the administrative aspects of the donations. To date, HCF has received total contributions of $20.5 million and made more than $4.4 million in grants to 170 charities.

Taking part in the charitable foundation has other benefits, as well. At a local level, being recognized as a part of HCF can raise the awareness of your community service efforts in the eyes of builders and suppliers, while nationally, the promotional efforts of HCF are helping to generate positive publicity for the home building industry.

As the first dealer-member to join HCF and to sit on its board of directors, Paul Hylbert, president and CEO of Redmond, Wash.–based Lanoga, is personally promoting a campaign to get dealers actively involved in this organization. “HCF is a channel for us to promote all of the good work that is being done in the industry and to encourage others to do the same,” he recently told me. “As local suppliers, we benefit from the communities that we operate in and most of us already are giving back. Why not focus that and get credit and recognition for those efforts, particularly with the home builders who are our customers? It is also a way to show the outside world that we care about the communities in which we do business and that we are contributing to their spiritual and educational development.”

I certainly would like to see the industry get more credit where credit is due, and at PROSALES we plan to help make that happen by promoting the good work of HCF and dealers like Jackson Lumber and Lanoga. I hope you'll do your part too and serve as a spokesperson for and supporter of community service.

Editor's note: For more information on HCF, contact executive director Julie Wheeler at 202.729. 3575 or [email protected].

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