Sleep in Heavenly Peace - Scott Foster
It may be hard to believe that right here in Blue Springs and throughout Jackson County, there are children who sleep on floors and couches because they don’t have their own beds. Noticing this need as a cable installation technician, Scott Foster decided to take action. “Through my job I have had the opportunity on too many occasions to witness the poor conditions our children sleep in right here in our community,” Scott says. “This isn't a struggle our children should face in our country.” In May of 2018, Scott and his wife Lisa founded the Kansas City-Southeast chapter of Sleep in Heavenly Peace after learning about the organization located in Twin Falls, Idaho. “Sleep in Heavenly Peace is an organization that builds beds and delivers them, fully furnished, to children who don't have a bed to sleep in,” he states. “Many of the children we serve often times sleep on the floor, on an air mattress or couch cushions.”
Having his or her own comfortable bed to sleep in at night has a major impact on a child. “Children without beds often suffer from depression, lack of sleep and joint/muscle pain. These conditions lead to poor behavior, study habits and social skills,” says Scott. In addition to changing lives for children in their homes, the beds provided by Sleep in Heavenly Peace volunteers help fostering and adopting parents meet a requirement of taking in children, which helps get children out of the system and into loving homes in our community. The beds also help children who have been or may be displaced from their homes the opportunity to stay together as a family.
As a non-profit organization, SHP collects financial and in-kind donations from businesses and individuals to purchase necessary supplies and bedding, then coordinates build days. On build days, volunteers come together on an assembly line to cut and drill lumber for the bed frames. Scott explains, “We gather volunteers from the community and our team walks the volunteers through the build process. With no prior experience, our volunteers, starting with raw lumber, can complete 40 beds in about four hours ... Many people leave having learned new skills, having found a new purpose and met new people.” After the lumber is cut and drilled to the required specifications, the beds are then delivered to and assembled in the child’s home. Each bed is furnished with a new mattress, sheets, comforter, and pillow. “Deliveries are the best,” Scott exclaims. “The children's faces light up the minute we pull in the drive. They are always eager to help us carry stuff in and ask to assemble their own beds. They can't believe they are also getting new bedding and a pillow. Once the beds are made they love to climb in and mess it all up. It is the most exciting time for all involved.”
The opportunity to serve others is in itself a rewarding experience. After the most recent build day, Scott received the following thank-you note from a volunteer:
Today, you guys not only had 40 beds created to comfort 40 young souls — giving them the dignity and hope they probably need, but you also gave the opportunity for people to experience the good in the world. A battered woman that has been made to believe she is worthless had her worth proven! A family that has spent years running from one activity to another was allowed the opportunity to spend time with each other and focus on doing something positive for others. A child watched, learned, and created — that experience may inspire the rest of his life! A person who does not speak English was immersed in a group of people working side by side without the expectation or pressure — words weren't needed to experience the love. A company encouraged their employees to focus on community — instead of just the time clock or bottom dollar. A teenage girl that struggles with determining how she can make a difference in the world was shown a very concrete way — and she is still smiling.
Though the work completed thus far is incredibly impactful, there are still many needs waiting to be met. According to Scott, “Since our first build day, our organization has had more requests than we have beds. It is very challenging to try to prioritize needs and determine who will receive the available beds. We want to serve every child, but donations do not always allow. It will be exciting for us to reach the point that we can serve every request that comes in.” Between June and September 2018, SHP volunteers made 70 beds, and delivered and assembled 60 of them. With more deliveries scheduled and more build days coming up this fall, needs are being met, but requests (one per day, on average, with most requests being for two beds) continue to pour into the organization. Donations and volunteers are vital for this work.