(Editor’s Note: The following was submitted toNFTfrom the Floor Covering Industry Foundation, an organization that assists people in the flooring industry who experience life-altering hardships. For more information on the FCIF or to learn how you can help visit www.fcif.org or call (714) 634-0302.)
They call it “the blues” or feeling “down in the dumps.” But
clinical depression is more than just experiencing temporary feelings of
sadness. It’s a serious medical condition that affects a person’s mind and
body. It impacts all aspects of everyday life from eating and sleeping to
working, relationships and self-esteem. People who are clinically depressed
cannot just “snap out of it.” Without proper treatment, the symptoms can
continue for weeks, months, even years -doing irreparable damage to their
careers, their families and their lives.
Such is the story of Don Berman, who was just 40 years old
when depression struck. As the vp of a successful carpet wholesaler in the
Midwest, Berman produced millions of dollars in sales each year and was honored
with awards. His clients enjoyed working with him so much that they threw him a
surprise party. But Berman was so humble, he never told his family.
Friends say that’s the kind of man he was - kind, friendly,
outgoing, a caring husband and father and capable of juggling a career in the
floor covering industry. By all accounts, Berman was at the top of his game.
But then, something terrible occurred. Family and friends were
concerned as he became isolated and non-communicative, refusing to speak on the
telephone or even leave his home. He developed an eating disorder and his
performance at work suffered and sales dropped. His employer had little choice
but to fire him. Although he found new employment he quickly isolated himself
again. He lost touch with his parents. His marriage suffered and his wife left
him when she became incapable of coping with his illness. His live savings went
to support his family and he was left with almost nothing.
With the help of a friend and former client, Berman settled
into a boarding house but for two years Berman had no job and earned no money.
He often refused to speak - communicating only through facial expressions. He
That’s when the Floor Covering Industry Foundation stepped in.
Founded in 1980 by several prominent industry figures, led by the late Walter
Guinan, the FCIF is dedicated to financially assisting floor covering industry
professionals who experience catastrophic illness, severe disabilities or other
Berman’s friend researched hospitals, spoke to doctors and
ultimately discovered Project Transition - a well-respected transitional
program that seemed to be exactly what his friend needed. With financial
assistance from the FCIF, Berman joined the program and received the personal
care and medical attention that he needed. His medication was administered on a
consistent basis and he had access to a social worker and a psychologist. Over
a 2 1/2 year period, the dark cloud that Don Berman had been living under
He reconnected with his children and lived independently
within the larger Project Transition complex. He even ventured outdoors for the
first time in years. The program helped him control his chronic condition with
medication and cognitive therapy. Berman had been given a second chance at
Today, Berman has his own apartment and works for a friend. He
communicates effectively and manages his own finances. While the FCIF works
confidentially, Berman asked that his story be made public. He wanted to show
his appreciation to the organization so that others may be aware of the
organization’s extraordinary efforts.
In a letter to the FCIF, Berman wrote: “There are simply no
proper words for me to express to you my appreciation for your financial
support during my critical bout with depression. The progress I have made at
Project Transition in the past two years has been amazing. Even some of the
staff members are calling it a miracle. Although I am still associated with the
program and receiving some help from the staff, I have been living in my own
apartment since last August and have been employed. Without your help, none of
this would have been possible. Thank you very, very much! I hope that sometime
I will be able to support your program in some positive manner.”
Depression affects approximately 19 million Americans or 9.5%
of the population in any given one-year period. It is estimated that depression
exacts an economic cost of over $30 billion each year, but the cost of human
suffering cannot be measured. As Berman and his family learned, depression not
only causes suffering to those who are depressed, but it also causes great
difficulty for their family and friends who often do not know how to help.
Since its founding, the
FCIF has granted more than $1.5 million to help those in need. Beneficiaries
include retailers, installers, retail salespeople, distributor personnel, mill
employees and executives. The Foundation ensures that these philanthropic
efforts are accomplished with compassion, confidentiality and preservation of
dignity for the individuals concerned. Financial help is viewed as an
opportunity to say, “We care” to those in our industry.
The Floor Covering Industry Foundation: Helping Our Own
September 16, 2008