Even before being elected to Huntington’s Town Board in November, Sal Ferro (R) strived to make his community and the surrounding areas a better place to live.
Ferro, president and CEO of Alure Home Improvements in Commack, also heads up the Ferro Foundation. The nonprofit organization is committed to helping those in need, especially students, seniors and veterans. The foundation offers an annual scholarship fund for Long Island students and assists local seniors and veterans with minor home improvements.
Seth Selesnow, director of marketing at Alure and a Ferro Foundation board member, said Ferro and the board members had been discussing starting a foundation for a while.
“Sal has always been incredibly philanthropic in the community, with his employees and family, and he always talked about starting his own charity one day,” Selesnow said. “We support a lot of endeavors, and year after year he would always say, ‘Eventually we have to start our own charity and do some of this stuff.’”
Selesnow said the scholarship program awards one four-year scholarship a year where a student receives $2,500 a year. One of the recipients, Cheyenna Bardsley of Freeport, graduated from high school in 2020. She is currently in her second year at Farmingdale State College SUNY studying law enforcement management and criminal justice.
She said she first heard about the scholarship through a family friend and said to be eligible she had to write two essays. Bardsley said when she heard there would only be one winner, she didn’t think she would have much of a chance and was surprised when she was notified that she was the winner. The college student said she was grateful for the scholarship that supplemented other financial aid she received.
“I don’t have to worry about where the money is coming from,” she said. “I’m not in any student debt or anything. So, it’s a real advantage.”
As for the home care arm of the foundation, Selesnow said it has helped seniors and veterans with minor home repairs such as wheelchair ramps, grab bars or roof repairs. The foundation also supports other charities and endeavors such as Farmingdale College Foundation, Nassau Community College and the United Way.
While working on homes for paid jobs enables the employees to see what repairs one may need, Alure Home Improvements gained widespread attention when Ferro and his team appeared a few times on the original “Extreme Makeover” series, which aired on ABC from 2003-12. The company’s appearance on the show led to many calling the company asking if Alure Home Improvements could work on their houses.
“It was overwhelming,” Selesnow said. “At least by creating a charity, it gave us somewhere to say, ‘Go fill out an application,’ and we at least have a board that can look at it and vote on those things.”
Selesnow said when the team worked on the episodes of “Extreme Makeover,” Ferro shut down the company and the workers were with the show for at least one week at a time per house. The marketing director added that some even volunteered to work extra hours on the homes. Ferro donated the labor to the show’s projects.
Selesnow said it was no surprise that the workers volunteered for extra time as Alure is a reflection of Ferro’s personality, who he described as “a unique individual” with so much compassion in his heart.
“I never in my life walked into a company like Alure where everybody was just so friendly and family oriented and actually was so helpful,” he said.
He said when he first started with the company he would tell his ex-wife that he couldn’t believe the work environment was real.
“I came to realize this is no accident,” Selesnow said. “This is from top down.”
When Ferro decided to run for town council, Selesnow supported him and was Ferro’s campaign finance chair despite, Selesnow said, the two of them being on different ends of the political spectrum.
“Even though we’re not aligned on some things politically, I do believe that he’s a very unique type of person who can listen to both sides and make a decision based on what makes the most sense and not party lines,” Selesnow said.
Ferro’s fellow councilman-elect, David Bennardo (R), agreed. He said Ferro “brings people together, and he makes them find their commonalities.” When Bennardo decided to run for office, he had a vision of a change regarding traditional party politics, and he said Ferro shared that vision.
“We wanted to demonstrate to people that you can work as ladies and gentlemen in politics, and I think that’s what excited me so much about working with Sal as he is truly a gentleman leader,” Bennardo said.
As a former school principal in the South Huntington school district, Bennardo has known Ferro for 20 years when the latter’s children were in school.
While Bennardo was a principal, he was able to see Ferro in action with his charitable projects, as he turned to him a couple of times to “quietly help out families who were in a jam.” He said each time Ferro responded with no questions asked.
“He feels people’s pain,” Bennardo said. “He really does. He’s got tremendous empathy. In fact, that’s probably his greatest strength.”