Group Provides beds for local kids
By: Amelia Harper
Staff Writer, Rocky Mount Telegram
Dozens of children in the Rocky Mount area will be able to nestle all snug in their new beds this Christmas Eve, thanks to the efforts of a local nonprofit group and some hospital employees.
The local chapter of Sleep in Heavenly Peace on Saturday donated about 30 beds to children in the area that had no bed of their own. Two departments of Nash UNC Health Care also held a bedding drive to collect twin comforters, pillows, sheets and bed-in-a-bags for children and young people receiving these beds.
Frank Hernandez worked with David Gardner to set up the local chapter of Sleep in Heavenly Peace a little over a year ago.
“We built our first bed on Jan. 1,” Hernandez said. “So far this year, we have built about 230 beds for kids in the Rocky Mount area.”
Hernandez said he read about the work of the Idaho-based organization a while ago and felt drawn to the mission of providing beds to children who need them.
“This just makes sense to me,” Hernandez said. “Unlike clothing and book bags, this is something the kids can use for years and take with them when they move out. Beds are important to people. When they are traveling, most people say ‘I can’t wait to get home and sleep in my own bed.’ But many kids in our area are sleeping on the floor or the sofa or are sleeping with multiple people in a bed.”
Michael Sohn, manager of Cardiopulmonary Rehabilitation Center at Nash UNC Health Care, also serves on the board of the local chapter of Sleep in a Heavenly Place, which is located behind the Ultimate Backyard Warrior site at 2550 North Church St. Sohn said he is excited be part of this effort.
“I’m big on community service, putting spiritual gifts to use, asking where I am being led to help — especially in a missional aspect in the community. I enjoyed woodworking for years, heard about SHP on the internet and contacted the local chapter president, who is Frank Hernandez. We hit it off — and next thing you know, I’m on the board,” Sohn said.
Sohn said he did not realize the need for beds in the community until he learned of the efforts of Sleep in Heavenly Peace.
“Currently, we have about 50 requests open and that could easily equate to about 120 beds that need to be delivered. The biggest difference in the community is just getting these kids off the floor. I’ve seen certain situations with kids literally sleeping on the kitchen floor with a blanket and a pillow,” Sohn said.
Sohn said a good bed can make a real impact in a child’s life.
“I mean, you’re talking a good day at school, walking around with smiles and not being late to school because they got a good night’s sleep,” Sohn said.
Sohn said he is glad to see other Nash UNC Health Care employees participate in the effort.
“I have been very excited seeing the Nash employees jump on board and help out, especially my fellow co-workers. There are really two stages, building the beds and delivering the beds, so we have events where people can volunteer to do either,” Sohn said.
At Saturday’s event, employees from the Cardiopulmonary Rehabilitation Center and the fifth floor of Nash UNC Health Care helped deliver about 30 beds and about 70 bed-in-a-bags and other bed linens they had collected, Sohn said.
Sohn said the hospital has been supportive of this mission in other ways as well.
“Some members of the hospital administration have come out on a delivery day with me and a bunch of other people on our team. This Christmas season has been phenomenal. I work for the Heart Center division line and several people from cardiology, the cath lab, some of the physical therapists that work with me came out on Dec. 7. They collected and donated linens and did about 15 bed deliveries,” Sohn said.
The impact of these bed deliveries on families is priceless, Sohn said.
“It’s pretty amazing to see firsthand the smile on their face. That’s the biggest impact I love to see — and it’s not just the kids. It’s how grateful the parents are. I have yet to come across a parent who wasn’t appreciative of what we are doing, especially this time of year around Christmas,” Sohn said.
The local chapter of Sleep in Heavenly Peace runs on donations and volunteer help. Anyone wishing to donate or volunteer should contact Hernandez at Frank.Hernandez@shpbeds.org. Anyone in need of a bed for their child can apply at the organization’s website at https://www.shpbeds.org.