Beds4Kids was founded on this thought – “If I die today, where did I leave my mark? How will I be remembered?” A little harsh, right? But it is a thought that we should all try to process. I was only 18 at the time this thought began to haunt me. I couldn’t shake it. So, I did the only thing I knew to do. Pray.
A few weeks later, I went to see a movie with some friends, “The Blindside.” You may have seen, or heard of it. Little did I know walking in to the theater that my life was about to be changed. Forever. The whole movie is very moving, makes you want to help, be a better person, etc, etc. But, there was one particular part that hit me like a ton of bricks! This is just a brief breakdown of the scene, but the well to do Tuohy family in the movie adopts the less fortunate Michael Oher. They prepared a bedroom for him in their home. Full of stuff that most all kids today have. TV’s, game systems, desk, bed, etc. Normal stuff right? When they show him his new room he says to them, “I’ve never had one of these before.” They ask him, “A room?” And Michael says, “No. A bed.”
At that moment I felt the tears begin to fall, and I knew that I was supposed to ensure that many kids as humanly possible had a bed to sleep in.
I won’t bore you with all the details, but let’s just say thanks to God, my family, and mentors, who began Beds4Kids. A nonprofit organization providing beds to kids and teens in need.
This is how my story began, and this is how I plan to leave my mark on our world. Where will YOURS start?
We provide beds to kids and teens in need. Hundreds of kids in our own communities have never had a bed of their own. We know this through community outreach, churches, schools and DFACS workers. To date, we have provided 400 beds to kids in need with hundreds more still on the waiting list.
The number of kids in the United States who will sleep tonight on a cold, concrete floor or other inadequate bedding is not even documented. Without Beds4Kids, who will address this issue? So far, we haven’t found any organized group who can quantify the number in need. We want to solve this problem for every child who needs it and for the community providers who struggle to meet these needs for those they serve.
We serve low to middle class families, group homes & shelters in East Tennessee, the Greater Atlanta area, and Birmingham.
Our research indicates that not only low-income families, but also group homes, foster care homes and shelters, are all in need of beds on a regular basis. No one in the non-profit industry is serving this need and it is a major expense to those who need it in a timely manner. We also know that shelter services can’t be provided at times, simply because there are not enough beds. This is not only a state mandate in group homes and shelters, in other programs; it’s simply a requirement because they understand the importance and benefit of a clean, safe, comfortable place for a child to sleep.
Research shows that children who get adequate, restful sleep at night do better in school, have fewer behavior problems, and are overall physically healthier. Getting enough quality sleep at the right times helps you function throughout the day. People who are sleep deficient are less productive at work and school. They take longer to finish tasks, have a slower reaction time, and make more mistakes.
After several nights of losing sleep—even a loss of just 1–2 hours per night—your ability to function suffers as if you haven’t slept at all for a day or two. Providing children with beds now will improve their mental and cognitive health on a daily basis. If this is continually improving, when these children reach adulthood they will be more stable in life. The future belongs to the children of …now. If we can give them a better today, it will in return give everyone a better tomorrow.
Without this program over 400 kids that we have already helped would still be sleeping on floors or other inadequate bedding. School performance would be lower for these deprived children, subsequently funding would have to increase to address the academic issues. Over time, children who do poorly academically and are sleep deprived are likely to be overweight, causing a burden on the health care system. Additionally, those whose self-esteem suffer from poor academics or obesity, may turn to gangs or other negative influences for acceptance, thereby increasing violence and other crimes in our neighborhoods.