LOS ANGELES – Behind the scenes of their work in retail stores and factories, industry leaders support City of Hope throughout the year. A few long-time sponsors of the annual West Coast Golf & Tennis fundraising event have shared how and why they lend their support to inspire others.
City of Hope is one of the largest cancer research and treatment organizations in the United States and a leading center for research into diabetes and other life-threatening diseases. It has been the furniture industry’s philanthropic partner since 1965, when the International Home Furnishings Industry Group formed to support City of Hope, primarily through two events, the West Coast Golf & Tennis Tournament and the Spirit of Life® Award Dinner.
This year, the International Home Furnishings Industry will honor Roy Hester, senior vice president and general manager of Planned Furniture Promotions, with the Lifetime Achievement Award at the West Coast Golf & Tennis Tournament on Monday, June 13 in Coto de Caza, California.
“What City of Hope does is impacting the world with new discoveries, clinical trials, drug therapies and world-class healthcare. We will always actively support it,” said Martin Ploy, AICO President and 1989 Spirit of Life winner. “When it comes to City of Hope, we’re all in.”
AICO, one of City of Hope’s most prominent sponsors, has supported the golf tournament since the 1990s. Its support has extended to The Spirit of Life Award galas, Walk for Hope and the organization of the City of Hope Bloodmobile twice a year. Ploy said AICO founder and CEO Michael Amini “saw what the organization was capable of achieving and where it was going, and he believed in its mission.”
In 2009, the Michael Amini Transfusion Medicine Center in City of Hope opened as one of the nation’s largest hospital donor centers for apheresis, donor matching and bone marrow transplants.
For mattress retail giant Sit ‘n Sleep, the golf tournament kicked off 30 years of support when its president, Nelson Bercier, was invited by a salesperson to the Southern California event. He and CEO Larry Miller are strong supporters, and the philanthropic partnership with City of Hope is part of the company culture with 20 or more associates participating in the annual golf tournament in addition to other events.
“It’s not about golf. This is the mission. City of Hope is the number one item in our budget for charitable donations each year, and our sponsorship has extended beyond golf over the past 15 years,” said Bercier, who was honored for the entire of his accomplishments in 2006 and served on the fundraising committee for a few years.
He added, “We’ve had associates and family members affected (by cancer/diabetes), and we’ve seen that without the research, some of them might not be with us yet.”
Jerome’s Furniture, a family-owned Top 100 furniture retailer, has supported the golf and tennis tournament since the early 1990s. Jerome’s co-owner Ann Navarra was the first lifetime achievement winner in 2001 and twice battled breast cancer.
“The Navarra family has been touched by cancer and City of Hope is very important because of their personal relationships. We are proud to be part of an institution dedicated to helping make a difference in people’s lives,” said Brian Woods, CEO of Jerome.
Another Top 100 retailer, Southern California-based Living Spaces, supports City of Hope as part of its corporate values of social responsibility in its local communities. As the 2015 Lifetime Achievement Honoree, CEO Grover Geiselman led a major fundraising campaign.
“We hope that our continued contributions in support of our peers will provide the momentum needed to generate global participation,” said Luke Parker, executive vice president of merchandising and supply chain for Living Spaces.
Parker House, a seventy-six-year-old family furniture resource, has been a major sponsor of City of Hope for over a decade, beginning with the golf tournament and later adding support to The Spirit galas. of Life Award. Chris Lupo, CEO of Parker House, and Victor Zonni, Chief Financial Officer, were honored for their entire careers in 2017.
“We have all been touched in one way or another by cancer and diabetes,” Lupo said. “Victor and I have had several friends and family members directly affected by these illnesses. For those who have visited City of Hope, they have all shared the same experience. Not only does City of Hope offer the most advanced treatment, but City of Hope also welcomes everyone as if they were their own family the moment you walk through their door.
For Acme Furniture, its strong support for 15 years and the count started with one person. CFO Melvin Hui put it simply, “Rick Powell’s passion led us to participate in City of Hope.”
Powell is president of Ashjer LLC and devotes his time to helping nonprofits raise funds. He co-founded the Powell Company with his father, Larry Powell, and received the Spirit of Life award from City of Hope in 1992. Since then he has run the tournament, making it one of the tournaments City of Hope’s highest-grossing annuals. events.
“The West Coast Golf and Tennis Tournament is the seed, but the people in this industry are the sun and the water. We will always need more sun and water to grow something that changes people’s lives every day,” Powell said. “The tournament is also the West Coast’s networking event of the year, so if you’ve never attended or haven’t registered yet, I strongly encourage you to do so today.”
To learn more about the tournament and to register online, click here, contact Loren Boyko at 626-222-9764 or email [email protected]