(ABC4 NEWS – SYRACUSE, UT) According to the U.S. Census, nearly 40 percent of single parents in Utah live below the poverty line. That translates into having to make hard decisions about stretching limited resources. Sometimes that means going without things that most people take for granted, things like a bed to sleep on.
Sara Ashworth was recently the recipient of bunk beds for her daughters. All because of the kindness of strangers.
She was excited to show me the new bunkbed. “They said it was handmade. When they brought it, it actually came with the mattresses, and the comforters and the sheets.”
Sara is a single Mom. She couldn’t afford a bed for her daughters. “I told them from the very beginning, when I first went homeless, don’t worry, because one day you are going to have a bunk bed. You’re going to have your own room and you are going to share it with your sister. And they finally got it. And I was see; “your dreams came true.”
Sleep in Heavenly Peace is an all-volunteer organization that believes that all children deserve a safe, comfortable place to lay their heads, including Sara’s children.
Jay Tucker is the co-chapter President of the Syracuse, Utah chapter of Sleep in Heavenly Peace.
He told me; “In the last year and a half, we have built over 200 beds, just in our chapter alone. We’ve delivered those beds to children who are sleeping on the floor, they are sleeping on the couch.”
Jay invited me to see how the beds were made during a recent bed build event in Syracuse.
When I arrived, a group of about 20 people were waiting for me. There were different stations put together with everything from sanding to staining ready to go. It was clear that these folks had done this before.
I asked Jay to walk me through the process and put me to work.
The build crew worked like a well-oiled machine. Mind you, we are not talking seasoned contractors here. I worked side-by-side with everything from teenagers to retired teachers. The enthusiasm was contagious.
Sleep in Heavenly Peace is a nationwide program with chapters all over the United States. Because of this, they all use the same universal assembly line model.
Jay explained; “We start with raw lumber, 2×4, 1×4, 1×2’s. We cut them to length and the go over to sanding. Each piece is sanded so we don’t get any slivers, we don’t have any sharp corners.”
I sanded a board that was destined to be part of a headboard and was instructed to take it to what Jay called a “tapping station”, a metal frame that had spikes from track shoes protruding up. As I positioned the board and gave it a couple taps with a rubber mallet, the boards were marked so the drills know where to drill the holes.
Jay continued; “Headboards are built. They go to stain. They are stained with a vinegar and steel wool mixture. They are set out to dry. Once they are dried, the headboards are all branded. (I admit it was fun to do some branding). And drilled for countersinking the lag bolts. From there they go to children’s homes, right here in Utah.”
When I think of “Sleep in Heavenly Peace” a Christmas song comes to my mind.
I asked Jay what “Sleep in Heavenly Peace” meant to him. “Adults problems aren’t kid’s problems. These kids are in positions that they have zero control over. Allowing them to have a bed where they can sleep in heavenly peace and get a good night sleep. That’s what that means to me,” he said with a tinge of emotion.
As I was leaving Sara Ashworth’s humble home, I asked her if she wanted me to share a message with the people from Sleep in Heavenly Peace. With a broad grin she replied; “Please tell them, Thank you so much for the beds. I love them. Above and beyond. Because without them, my girls wouldn’t have a bed.”
These stories deserve to be told. These are Utah Caring Stories. I’m Doug Jessop, ABC4 News.
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