In September 2019, the residents of Houston, Texas, faced the tropical storm, Imelda. Imelda wreaked havoc on the city – at least 1000 residents had to be evacuated and two people were killed.
This was the most catastrophic flooding since Hurricane Harvey which displaced over 30,000 people. Jim, MacIngvale, known as “Mattress-Mack”, owns the Gallery Furniture retail chain and as the case when Harvey hit, he once again showed his generosity by opening his furniture showroom as a shelter for victims of the flooding.
Helping victims of Imelda
MacIngvale sent his Gallery Furniture vans out to rescue stranded victims. On the first day, about 120 people were brought back to the showroom. They came from flooded homes, strip-mall parking lots and stranded vehicles.
When they arrived, they were given a warm sweatshirt, as well as food and drinks from the restaurant inside the store. The store’s mattresses, sofas and other furniture were made available to them and they could watch the local news on the big-screen televisions in the store. They even used the showers normally used by employees. McIngvale says about 20 victims stayed the night.
Opening the store to victims of Harvey
It wasn’t only on this occasion that McIngvale stepped in to help victims. For several nights while Hurricane Harvey was doing its damage, his store became a shelter. He says that when he saw other people helping victims, he knew that he had to help too.
He says that his daughter, who struggles with obsessive-compulsive disorder, has a favorite saying – “if not for my struggle I would not have my strength” and he has the same philosophy. He says Texans always band together and help each other through crises, including hurricanes and flooding.
McIngvale’s employees waded through the floodwaters to rescue victims. He says that about 400 people came into his stores in the two locations in Houston. People donated clothing and supplies and volunteered to help serve meals in the restaurant.
In October 2018, President Trump praised McIngvale publically for his efforts and said that he embodied the strength of the American spirit. Over 200,000 people signed a petition to ask the city of Houston to name a day after him for his generosity.
An icon in Houston
McIngvale is a powerhouse of tireless enthusiasm and is usually found greeting every customer at the Gallery Furniture store on North Freeway and overseeing the sales activities. Everyone who comes in contact with this Houston icon finds his energy infectious.
His philanthropy is legendary and when there’s a need, Mack and Gallery Furniture are often first to respond, if not spearhead the effort. He performs his acts of charity for the community and not for the recognition.
He has a huge heart and has touched the lives of many Houstonians in a positive way. If disaster strikes, his first reaction is to lend a helping hand and let victims know there are those who care about them.