PITTSFIELD – What started as a generous donation to a local group in need of help following the economic disruption caused by COVID-19 has evolved into a global partnership between Annie Selke Cos. and Habitat for Humanity.
The Pittsfield-based furniture company has partnered with Habitat for Humanity International to provide materials for the nonprofit that supports affordable housing projects around the world.
Founded in 1976, Habitat currently operates chapters in all 50 states and more than 70 countries, and has helped more than 35 million people achieve stability through affordable housing, according to its website. It has two Berkshire chapters, in Pittsfield and North Adams.
The catalyst for the international partnership came late last spring, when companies donated $ 1 million worth of equipment to Central Berkshire Habitat for Humanity in Pittsfield, which was grappling with rising costs of building materials and supply chain disruptions caused by the pandemic.
“It was a super wonderful thing for them to do,” said Carolyn Valli, CEO of the Central Berkshire chapter. The donation helped the chapter complete six projects. “The owners love him and his home starts off for them in a personalized way.… The families who heard about it were blown away.”
In a letter sent to businesses after the donation last spring, Valli said Central Berkshire Habitat for Humanity was “eternally grateful” for the donation.
“Habitat needed a miracle,” she wrote. “Your call was the miracle we needed.”
Annie Selke Cos., Which includes Dash & Albert and Pine Cone Hill, recently began the international partnership by donating 4,000 fleece bathrobes, valued at $ 100,000, to the numerous Habitat ReStore stores for the humanity. ReStores are independent home improvement / donation centers run by Habitat locals that provide items at discounted prices to families looking to furnish their homes.
“We have supported the local in a number of ways,” said CEO Annie Selke. “They were working on a house for one of our employees, so we learned a little bit more than before. We really wanted to support them in any way we could. Then we realized we could do it on a large scale. .. “
Habitat for Humanity International appreciates the gesture.
“We are grateful for the support and are delighted to embark on this partnership,” said Julie Laird Davis, vice president of corporate and foundation relations for Habitat for Humanity International, located in Atlanta. “Annie Selke and Habitat have a common goal of safe and decent housing for all.”
Owner and founder Annie Selke said the new partnership is aligned with the “core values” of her businesses.
“We made the initial donation in May and that’s what really intrigued us,” said Selke. “We always donated locally, but not to the extent that we did with donation, but then we started doing more research.”
The rugs and other materials that the Selke Companies donated are “premium products,” according to Selke, which stick around when the company changes its seasonal product lines.
“We have showrooms in Atlanta, Laguna Beach, California, and Dallas,” Selke said. “Our product changes every season. Instead of bringing it back (to Pittsfield) for our outlet store, we can send it to a (ReStore) in that area. … It’s a great product, it’s so a good place for that to go. “
Selke provided four or five trailers full of material to the Central Berkshire Chapter this spring, Valli said, and those donated items covered the group’s ReStore showroom on Hubbard Avenue in Pittsfield.
A lot of those items “flew off the shelves,” Valli said, though some of the material remains.
“When we started saying we had this stuff on Facebook, people walked into the store like they never did before,” Valli said. “It was very good quality. We had indoor rugs. People wouldn’t buy just one, but four – they were so beautiful.”
Selke said efforts will continue.
“I am sure we will continue to support the local in many ways, both through volunteering and through product donations,” she said.