By Mollie LaSalle
WOODVILLE – A non-profit organization dedicated to ending childhood bedlessness is looking for a new home.
Brian Smith, who serves as the co-president for the Woodville chapter of Sleep in Heavenly Peace, said that he and his team of volunteers are facing a new challenge, as the shop where they are currently building beds has been sold, and they need to find a new space, ideally one with a bare minimum of 2,100 square feet, a smooth floor, electricity and a restroom.
Smith was the guest speaker at the noon meeting of the Rotary Club of Woodville last Wednesday, where he provided an overview of SHP and its mission, as well as its current challenge.
“We are a nationwide, 501c non-profit that does one thing, we build twin beds, singles, and bunks, and donate them to families whose children have no beds. We involve as many community volunteers as we can, then we donate. The number of beds we build is directly related to how many volunteers we have.”
Smith further explained “we’ve built anywhere from 10 beds to 32 beds at our monthly bed builds”.
He got emotional when he recalled the first SHP bed build in the Walmart parking lot. The organization then moved to the old McClure’s furniture building, where it was headquartered for 18 months.
Recently SHP moved south of town, across from Jerry’s saw shop, going from a 3,100 square foot space, with electricity and a restroom, to 2,100 square feet of space with no electricity or restroom. “We make do with what we have, and with two generators and a port-a-potty, plus a hand washing station; we were back in business,” Smith said.
Smith reported that, since the Woodville’s chapter inception, they have built 588 beds, that have been delivered to children in Tyler and Jasper counties. “We have an awesome delivery coordinator in Jasper; we rent a garage where they keep 20-25 beds at a time, when we get an inquiry, and it is approved, the beds get delivered.” He added that each bed costs approximately $250 to build.
Smith and his team of volunteers contact school districts, CPS, law enforcement, all the appropriate agencies to find children in need; “we put brochures in laundromats, apartment buildings, anywhere where we think low-income families might see them”. “If I honestly believe there is a need, and I take care of it, I’ve done my part, “he explained. “We have a website, SHP.org, there is a simple button you click to apply for a bed, answer a few very simple questions.” Smith gave a huge shout-out to Lowe’s, who is the non-profit’s largest national corporate sponsor. “We buy brand new mattresses, and most of our bedding comes from donations.” SHP Holds monthly bed builds the second Saturday of every month, usually from around 7:45 a.m. to noon.
The website for the Woodville chapter is: www.shpbeds.org/chapter/tx-woodville.