Volunteers with the nonprofit organization Sleep in Heavenly Peace have a soft spot for kids, helping provide comfortable beds for children in need.
Susie Brown, who started a local SHP chapter, called it “an amazing movement” in which volunteers with the nonprofit work with other organizations and individuals to build and deliver beds to families in Eastern Oregon, who have children sleeping on a couch or the floor.
She said that since the John Day chapter became official on May 22, volunteers have been gathering monetary donations as well as supplies and tools to build beds and provide bedding.
Brown and her husband, Mark, and their daughter Natosha McLeod first learned of SHP in March while watching an episode of “Returning the Favor,” hosted by Mike Rowe, also known for his TV show “Dirty Jobs.”
“We all had tears in our eyes,” Susie said, adding it weighed on their minds for several days.
Susie filled out paperwork to start a local chapter, and the family has attended “build days” in Twin Falls, Idaho, where they’ve seen the process.
SHP had nine chapters when the program featuring the nonprofit aired, and now there are 88 chapters in 32 states, and it’s still growing.
The Browns work with a core set of volunteers. They will gather for an inaugural build day Aug. 11 in Dayville, in honor of the late Jake Streeter, who was a longtime resident and volunteer firefighter.
“Once Mark and I saw this, we knew we could help our communities,” she said, adding that no matter what a family’s situation is “we are there to help the children.”
“Children do better emotionally, mentally and physically when they have a space of their own and are able to get a good night of sleep,” she said. “This carries over to their studies and education.”
She said she enjoyed building and delivering beds with the Twin Falls chapter.
“This is such a great experience, and you get to see how it affects the families firsthand,” she said. “There are usually many tears of gratitude from the parents, which makes me pretty emotional also, and the kids are so excited and happy — this is the reward for all our efforts.”
She said the local nonprofit will serve children ages 3-17 who live in Grant, Harney, Baker and Malheur counties with builds happening in various places. The beds and bedding are given to the families free of charge.
“We have a core team of volunteers who are taking on assignments, but we are always looking for more volunteers to help with this,” she said. “This is a community project and something that we want the community involved in.”
For more information, email Susie Brown at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit the Facebook page shpjohnday or the main website shpbeds.org.