Lending a Helping Hand is the Heart and Soul of AFR Furniture Rental

March 20, 2019

Charity is an obligation, not an option, according to Jerry Hellmann, co-CEO of AFR Furniture Rental, a national furniture rental company that provides furnishings for homes, offices, special events and trade shows, while also making corporate social responsibility a top company-wide initiative.

“Working charitably in our communities and within our industry is a part of the woven tapestry that is AFR Furniture Rental,” Hellmann says. “It’s not just words – it’s action.”

Exemplifying the company’s dedication to giving back to those in need in the communities it serves, Together We Can is AFR’s robust CSR program providing employees with myriad opportunities to participate in a wide range of local and regional charitable initiatives at each of the company’s 23 locations.

Volunteerism activities have ranged from helping families in need, pitching in at animal shelters, organizing charity walks, participating in toy and food drives, packing groceries at local food banks, and helping to rebuild homes after natural disasters, including major hurricanes.

“AFR has always given back to the community, as our owners have always been generous and philanthropic in nature,” explains Tricia Schmitt, chief revenue officer of AFR Furniture Rental.

She continues, “Whether it’s helping at a dog shelter, serving meals at the local Ronald McDonald House, putting together a team for a breast cancer walk or troop support, AFR people have ties to all different kinds of causes that are heart strings for them.”


AFRThe company has also partnered with organizations at the local and national level including St. Bernard’s Project, Event Pros Take Action and Friends of Rockaway, to change the lives of people stricken by Hurricanes Katrina and Sandy by helping them to rebuild and get back in their homes.

According to Schmitt, AFR’s hurricane relief efforts began progressively by collecting donations; adding a large financial donation to it in lieu of client Christmas gifts; and finally, making donations of money, furnishings, time, labor and an on-site team to help rebuild several houses.

“Each year for six or seven years we expanded our efforts,” Schmitt says. “Our last year in New Orleans, we were able to help build, complete and furnish two homes working with SBP and EPTA. We also did the same in Rockaway for a few years.”

Choosing which organizations to support and which volunteer activities to engage in also comes down to group consensus, with employees encouraged to bring their ideas forward and ask for company support.

“Our teams at each location make suggestions for what is needed most in their communities at any given time,” Schmitt says. “They love being hands-on, and we are out in the trenches and on the front lines. There is always something to do for hands willing to help.”

Fighting child hunger in the U.S. has become AFR’s most recent CSR focus in the last couple of years, with the company launching a national campaign consisting of donating food and resources in 14 cities across the country.

Although the service-oriented company hasn’t had the opportunity to carry out any charitable activities at any of the trade shows it works with yet, AFR actively supports the SEARCH Foundation and the EDPA Foundation, which are both dedicated to helping industry professionals and their families in times of crisis. The company is also amenable to suggestions of where it can help in creating impactful fundraising events in the future.

“As humans, we are at our very best when we are helping one another and showing compassion – life is just better when you are helping someone or involved in something that is bigger than self,” Schmitt says. “It’s one of the things that I love most about AFR – we love helping others – and I’m so grateful to work for a company that instills that in every employee that works for them.”


Don’t miss any event-related news: Sign up for our weekly e-newsletter HERE and engage with us on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and Instagram!

Add new comment

Partner Voices
Less than six months ago, Lisa Messina joined the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority (LVCVA) as the first-ever chief sales officer after leading the sales team at Caesars Entertainment. A 12-year Las Vegas resident, Messina is a graduate of Cornell University’s School of Hotel Administration and serves on MPI International’s board of directors. TSNN had a chance to catch up with this dynamic leader and talk to her about her vision for the new role, current shifts in the trade show industry, creating more diversity and equity within the organization, and advice to future female leaders. Lisa Messina, Chief Sales Officer, LVCVA With Las Vegas becoming The Greatest Arena on EarthTM, what are some of the things you’re most excited about in your role? Our team was at The Big Game’s handoff ceremony earlier this month, and I couldn’t help but think, “We’re going to crush it next year!”  These high-profile events and venues not only drive excitement, but also provide unmatched opportunities for event planners. Allegiant Stadium hosts events from 10 to 65,000 people and offers on-field experiences. Formula 1 Grand Prix will take place in Las Vegas in November, after the year-one F1 race, the four-story paddock building will be available for buyouts and will also offer daily ride-along experiences that will be available for groups. And, of course, the MSG Sphere officially announced that it will open in September, ahead of schedule, with a U2 residency. It’s going to be the most technologically advanced venue as far as lighting, sound, feel, and even scent, and it will be available for buyouts and next-level sponsorships inside and outside. There’s no ceiling to what you can do when you’re doing events in Las Vegas.  Allegiant Stadium As the trade show and convention business returns to the pre-pandemic levels, what shifts are you noticing and how do you think they will impact the industry going forward? Our trade show organizers are very focused on driving customer experience. Most of our organizers are reporting stronger exhibitor numbers and increased numbers of new exhibitors, with trade shows proving to be almost or above 2019 levels. Now our organizers are really doubling down on driving attendance and focusing on the data to provide that individualized, customized experience to help attendees meet their goals and get the best value. Some companies continue to be cautiously optimistic with their organizational spend when it comes to sending attendees, but I think it will continue to improve. As the U.S. Travel Association makes more progress on the U.S. visa situation, we also expect a growing influx of international attendees. What are some innovative ways the LVCVA helps trade show and convention organizers deliver the most value for their events? We focus on customer experience in the same way that trade show organizers are thinking about it. We got rave reviews with the West Hall Expansion of the Las Vegas Convention Center (LVCC), so over the next two years, we will be renovating the North and the Central halls, which will include not just the same look and feel, but also the digital experiences that can be leveraged for branding and sponsorship opportunities.  Vegas Loop, the underground transportation system designed by The Boring Company, is also a way we have enhanced the customer experience. Vegas Loop at the LVCC has transported more than 900,000 convention attendees across the campus since its 2021 launch. Last summer, Resorts World and The Boring Company opened the first resort stop at the Resorts World Las Vegas , with plans to expand throughout the resort corridor, including downtown Las Vegas, Allegiant Stadium and Harry Reid International Airport. The LVCVA also purchased the Las Vegas Monorail in 2020, the 3.9-mile-long elevated transportation system that connects eight resorts directly to the convention center campus. This is the only rail system in the world that integrates fares directly into show badges and registration. For trade show organizers, these transportation options mean saving time, money and effort when it comes to moving groups from the hotels to LVCC and around the city. Also, the more we can focus on building the infrastructure around the convention center, the more it supports the customer experience and ultimately supports our trade show organizers. Scheduled to debut in Q4, Fontainebleau Las Vegas will offer 3,700 hotel rooms and 550,000 square feet of meeting and convention space next to LVCC.  What are some of the plans for advancing DEI (diversity, equity and inclusion) within your organization? We’re currently partnering with instead of working with a leading consulting firm, to lay the foundation and create a solid DEI plan and be the leader when it comes to DEI initiatives. The heart of that journey with the consulting firm is also talking to our customers about their strategic approaches to DEI and driving innovation in this space.  What are your favorite ways to recharge? My husband and I have an RV and we’re outdoorsy people. So, while we have over 150,000 world-class hotel rooms and renowned restaurants right outside our doorstep, one of my favorite things to do is get out to Red Rock Canyon, the Valley of Fire, and Lake Mead. Five of the top national parks are within a three-hour drive from Las Vegas, so there’s a lot you can do. We love balancing the energy of Las Vegas with nature, and we’re noticing that a lot of attendees add activities off the Strip when they come here.  Valley of Fire What advice would you give to women following leadership paths in destination marketing? I think it’s about being laser-focused on what you want to accomplish; building a team around you that lifts you and helps you achieve your goals; and being humble and realizing that you do it as a group. No one gets this done alone. Thankfully, there are a lot of women in leadership in this organization, in our customers’ organizations, and in this city that we can be really proud of. We’re a formidable force that is making things happen.   This interview has been edited and condensed. This article is exclusively sponsored by the Las Vegas Convention & Visitors Authority. For more information, visit HERE.