Charity Spotlight – Sleep in Heavenly Peace
Sleep is said to greatly affect overall health and well-being. This is especially true for children, as quality of sleep dramatically impacts their mental, physical, social, and emotional development.
Countless charities provide clothing, meals, and toys to hurting families, but sadly, the need for suitable beds and bedding is often overlooked.
National nonprofit, Sleep in Heavenly Peace, recognizes that many children go without a bed or a pillow, spending their nights on couches, blanket pallets, or even directly on cold, hard floors.
This is true for Cookeville children, as well.
Sleep in Heavenly Peace is now addressing the well-being of youth in our community through a local chapter established by Trevor and Madie Larsen.
Since their launch in March of 2022, these retired newcomers with a purpose-seeking wood shop, report that demand for the services provided by the Cookeville chapter has outgrown expectations and volunteer capacity. Along the way, more than 220 beds have been built for area children to date.
This life-altering success is due to partnerships with area churches, civic clubs, businesses, individuals, and quilt groups. Through an outpouring of community support, supplies such as lumber, mattresses, bedding, and pillows are in sufficient supply.
“We rely on community partnerships and can do as much as the community has faith for,” says Madie. “It’s truly a community effort.”
Local businesses like Lowes and CrossFit Mayhem have contributed significantly, providing tools as well as workspace and manpower.
Outlets like the Department of Children’s Services connect beds with deserving youth, but anyone in need, with children ages 3 to 17 years old, can apply for a bed. For clarity when applying, a bed includes a headboard, side rails, mattress, sheets, comforter, and pillow.
Upon receiving a bed, the child can choose to be part of the process by helping dress it before use.
“It’s rewarding, yet heartbreaking, these places we go,” notes Madie in reference to delivering the beds.
“These people are so grateful, and that bed is super-critical in the success and the confidence of that child.”
The Larsens additionally credit the consistency of approximately 15 core volunteers in the nonprofit’s success but note that the effort requires many more hands to continue meeting the needs of those in the area. While donations have fulfilled supplies and necessary tools, the challenge for this local charity is volunteer recruitment.
Hosting four bed-builds per year, Sleep in Heavenly Peace requires 84 volunteers at every event to meet their 50 bed goal. Each of these builds offer volunteers a chance to give back along with an opportunity to learn.
“Volunteering is win-win, in that we are able to build the beds needed and also teach a skill set to volunteers,” says Madie.
Learn more about Sleep in Heavenly Peace and how you can volunteer for an upcoming build by visiting https://shpbeds.org/chapter/tn-cookeville/.
– by Molly Brown, photos by Abby Weeden