By mid-2018, Gary and Nikki Akin launched the Northwest Houston chapter, and Trey McWilliams, Datra Quin and Sarah Moss launched the Spring Cypress chapter.
Between the two groups, nearly 1,500 beds have since been built and delivered to local families in various situations, including children who lost their furniture to a natural disaster, foster families and teenagers sleeping on couches.
“For the most part, it’s just families that are down on their luck for some reason. We don’t dig a lot in our vetting process—[although] we try to make sure that the need is real,” McWilliams said.
Leaders of both chapters said most of their deliveries are to single-parent households, but criteria to receive a bed is minimal. The only information requested is the children’s ages, genders and their current sleeping situation.
“We just want to know that your kids don’t have a bed of their own,” Gary said. “They’re either sleeping with grandma, sleeping on the floor, or they may be sleeping on a mattress on the floor, but they still don’t have a bed of their own.”
The global organization is driven by donations and partnerships with local churches, businesses, charitable organizations and individuals. Employees from Mack Haik Automotive, David Weekley Homes and Refined Technologies, among other businesses, have volunteered for build-day events, and numerous churches have hosted bedding drives.
It costs $400 to purchase all the supplies needed for a bunk bed and $200 for a single bed, from the nuts and bolts to the mattresses and bedding. Volunteers build the beds in an assembly line process with table captains overseeing the various stations from sanding lumber to branding each bed with the Sleep in Heavenly Peace logo.
“We have a [trained] captain at each station, so you can come in with no experience, and we’ll show you what to do,” said Mark Proegler, the development manager for the Northwest Houston chapter. “It’s a great team-building activity for organizations, and then they can also help deliver [beds].”
Ten percent of funds raised go back to Sleep in Heavenly Peace’s headquarters, which covers liability insurance costs for each chapter, and the rest of the money goes directly toward supplies, tools, mattresses and bedding to provide beds for local children, McWilliams said.
While many of the other nearly 250 national chapters of Sleep in Heavenly Peace do not have a permanent location to host build events, The MET Church in Cy-Fair has offered a space for the Northwest Houston chapter to house their workshop, and React Power Solutions has done the same for the Spring Cypress chapter.
Gary said his goal is to build and deliver 100 beds across two build events every month. The Spring Cypress chapter holds about nine build events annually, and while chapters are already serving the portion of northwest Houston from I-45 to I-10, McWilliams said there is always a need for more chapters.
“There’s been several times when I pull up to a home and think, ‘There’s no way these folks need a bed.’ It’s a relatively nice home, and you walk in, and they have nothing,” McWilliams said. “The issue of kids sleeping on the floor is more widespread than you’d assume.”
How to help
- Volunteer: Bed build events are taking place monthly in the Cy-Fair area. Contact your local chapter for more information.
- Give financially: While a complete bunk bed costs $400, smaller donations of $5-$75 can cover a pillow, sheet set, comforter or mattress.
- Donate bedding: New twin-sized sheets and comforters, pillows and pillowcases are always needed to complete beds for children.
- Spread the word: Awareness about Sleep in Heavenly Peace and the services they offer is often driven by word-of-mouth and social media.
Sleep in Heavenly Peace—Spring Cypress
ZIP codes served: 77064, 77065, 77066, 77069, 77070, 77084, 77086, 77095, 77410, 77429, 77433, 77447, 77449, 77493
844-432-2337 ext. 5725. www.shpbeds.org/chapter/tx-spring-cypress
Sleep in Heavenly Peace—Northwest Houston
ZIP codes served: 77014, 77018, 77022, 77032, 77038, 77039, 77040, 77060, 77068, 77073, 77076, 77088, 77090, 77091, 77092, 77093, 77375, 77377, 77379, 77380, 77381, 77382, 77386, 77388, 77389
844-432-2337 ext. 5721. www.shpbeds.org/chapter/tx-houston-nw