Editor’s note: Bill Feinberg, chief executive of Allied Kitchen & Bath in Fort Lauderdale, was among four South Florida business leaders honored Thursday night as winners of the Sun Sentinel Co.’s 2013 Excalibur awards (full story, http://bit.ly/1kQomFl). The awards, presented during a ceremony at the Boca Raton Resort & Club, recognize executives who blend business success with community involvement across South Florida. We first told the story behind Feinberg’s charitable work – in concert with his brother, Joe – in February 2012, and followed up later that year in our annual Powers for Good series. We are proud to reprise both stories here, and to offer our congratulations as well.
The story behind Allied Kitchen & Bath’s charitable work
By Charlyne Varkonyi Schaub
When Bill Feinberg’s father, Nate, died from leukemia in 2003, he had an epiphany.
“My parents were great,” said Feinberg, who owns Allied Kitchen & Bath in Fort Lauderdale with his brother, Joe. “We didn’t have a lot of money. My father was a hairdresser [in Philadelphia] and I worked in his beauty shop. We would get up at 6 a.m. on a cold winter day and my dad would pick up the ladies who couldn’t drive. He got only $5 for a wash and set, but he wanted to help them.”
To honor his dad’s giving spirit, Feinberg joined the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society South Florida and founded the Decorate, Dine & Donate Gala. The event, which Allied sponsored for four years, raised more than $1 million.
“It was like a drug,” he said. “I thought: Oh my God, I raised $100,000 in the first event for a cause that affected someone I care about. Since then, the challenge has been how much can I raise and how can I give more.”
When the Feinbergs were building their new 15,000-square-foot showroom that was completed in September 2008, the brothers designed it with charity events in mind. In the past three years, Feinberg has hosted more than 25 charities and small business groups. Allied underwrites all the event costs – food, wine, music – and has donated auction items. The events have raised more than $250,000 in the past year and one half. Among them are Kids in Distress, American Heart Association, Boys and Girls Club, Habitat for Humanity, American Lung Association, American Red Cross and Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation of America.
Although Feinberg has sponsored large charities, it is the smaller local ones that touch his heart such as Brookwood Florida, a Coral Springs residence for troubled teens that helps educate and prepare them for self sufficiency or going back to their families.
A young woman, tearing up as she spoke at the Brookwood fundraiser in December, told how she had been abused and could not return home. Brookwood took her in and sent her to college. She is now a social worker.
“How could you not be touched by this story?” Feinberg asked. “I asked people to just reach into their pockets and give $5, $10, whatever they could. We raised $8,000.”
Habitat for Humanity also has been benefiting from Allied’s charity contributions for the past 12 years. Every week two truckloads of used cabinets and appliances are given to the Habitat ReStore for resale and homeowners are given a receipt for the contributions. Habitat estimates donations over the past decade have supported building about a dozen Habitat Homes in Broward County.
“Why should I take good quality products to a dump?” Feinberg asked. “Some of the cabinets were only 10 years old. It takes a little more time and we have to send trucks to pick up the items, but it is worth it. We help save the environment and raise money for an organization. It’s fabulous. There is nothing better.”
Powers for Good, 2012
By Robyn A. Friedman
It’s unusual for a business to design its headquarters around its charitable endeavors. But that’s exactly what Bill and Joe Feinberg did when they planned for the two-year, $2 million renovation of their Allied Kitchen & Bath showroom on Oakland Park Boulevard in Fort Lauderdale.
“My vision was to have a showroom with a staircase where people could gather around, and we could have 100 people or so come to fundraising events,” says Bill Feinberg, president of Allied Kitchen & Bath. “We created a great environment to be able to do that.”
Allied’s showroom actually can hold about 200 people, and the Feinbergs capitalize on that ability by hosting about 25 fundraising events per year there on behalf of numerous organizations. “Some may raise $10,000, some $15,000 and some only $2,000 or $5,000,” he says. “Many of the small charities in our backyard are really struggling, so every little bit we help raise goes right back into the hands of the people who need it.”
Although Bill was involved with larger charities in the past — he served as President of the Board of Trustees for the Southern Chapter of the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society for four years — he now prefers to support smaller organizations. “With some of the small, local charities that I work with here, we could be raising money today, and next week it’s going to help a family in need,” he says.
Some of his favorite local charities are the Jessica June Children’s Cancer Foundation, Habitat for Humanity, Starlight Children’s Foundation, Children’s Diagnostic & Treatment Center and Broward Children’s Center. He also supports Junior Achievement, the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation, Broward Women’s Alliance and the Boys & Girls Clubs of Broward County.
The Feinbergs encourage their employees to give of themselves as well. Many participate in the events held at Allied, serving as bartenders or hosts. “When you’re doing charity work, it’s not always about giving money,” Bill says. “Sometimes you can just give your time. It makes a huge difference.”
When asked why he’s so involved, Bill quotes two popular sayings: “You have to give to get” and “pay it forward.”
“If you own a business, and you’re lucky enough to be able to make money and survive, it’s your duty to give back to our community,” he explains. “Each of us has to give a little bit. It makes for a better place, and it makes you a better person. For me, the greatest satisfaction in the world is to be able to share myself and my knowledge.”