On Monday, Jim "Mattress Mack" McIngvale was honored with the Daily Point of Light Award from the Points of Light Foundation — founded by former President George H. W. Bush. and Barbara Bush — which is given for exceptional community service. The 62-year-old honoree is primarily known throughout Houston as the founder and face of Gallery Furniture and has been selling furniture in the city for more than 32 years.
Although the Point of Light Award has been given every day for years — McIngvale received the 5,115th award — this marked the first time in the 23-year history of the foundation that President Bush has personally nominated a candidate to receive it.
"As we Houstonians can well attest, Jim McIngvale doesn't do anything small or half-way," Neil Bush said.
The former president and first lady attended the ceremony in his west Houston office where McIngvale was presented with the award by son Neil Bush, the chairman of the foundation.
"As we Houstonians can well attest, Jim McIngvale doesn't do anything small or half-way," Neil Bush said. "He is known as 'Mattress Mack' for his furniture business, but it is his long-term dedication to education, to our military personnel, to natural disaster victims, to funding critical advances in health care, and to supporting those in need that has endeared him to his fellow Houstonians and Texans and earned him this richly deserved award today."
"I can think of nobody that deserves this more than Mack," said former President Bush. "He's done so much for this community and elsewhere so we're very proud to be a part of this day."
Among McIngvale's many volunteer efforts are Kickstart Kids, a program he founded in 1992 that uses martial arts training and personal guidance to help kids avoid drugs and gangs while also encouraging them to stay in school and has served more than 70,000 students throughout Texas. McIngvale also provided start-up funding for KIPP Academy, a national network of free, open-enrollment college preparatory public charter schools. Today more than 140 KIPP schools have served nearly 50,000 students.
"One final comment," McIngvale said. "If any of y'all need any furniture, we still deliver tonight."
McIngvale has furnished USO facilities around the world and provided furniture to thousands of veterans and victims of natural disasters. He has also bought and distributed 10,000 holiday toys for children in need and provided Thanksgiving dinners to thousands. And he has worked with some of the best cardiologists and surgeons from the Texas Medical Center to fund the Texas Heart Institute's effort to develop a life-saving artificial heart.
"I know he's suffering because he's the most modest man in America, but you deserve every bit of it and much, much more. All of Houston, Texas is grateful," former first lady Barbara Bush said.
The president said that he had been involved in the process of nominating McIngvale for quite a while because he "felt so strongly about him and all he's done."
McIngvale said his father was a significant influence when it came to serving others. "He left a generous legacy of giving and I'm just trying to live up to what he taught me."
The award winner was beaming and appeared truly moved to have been honored. But, always the jokester, he ended the serious presentation with a laugh. "One final comment," he said. "If any of y'all need any furniture, we still deliver tonight."