Sounds of buzzing, drilling and jovial laughter filled the air in downtown Dawsonville Saturday morning as a few dozen volunteers all gathered wood to build beds for local children.
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Local nonprofit Sleep in Heavenly Peace hosted its first bed build of the year on Feb. 25 at the Dawsonville Farmers Market Pavilion.
The nonprofit is a nationwide organization with the mission of providing beds for children who do not have one. The Dawsonville chapter serves children in Dawson, Lumpkin and North Forsyth counties, according to a previous DCN article.
Volunteers ended up building 26 beds and delivering six of them to two different homes that day, said Chapter Co-President Patty Kurz.
The Dawson County Women's Club presented Sleep in Heavenly Peace with a $1,000 check Saturday morning, and the nonprofit also hosted a linen drive. Attendees donated about 20 sets of new twin sheets, pillows and blankets to go to children.
During Saturday’s bed build, Dawsonville chapter President Skip Sevier said he got the idea from watching American television host Mike Rowe’s online show, “Returning the Favor” several years ago.
“I saw the video, and it made me cry,” he said of the generosity shown.
That experience sparked the desire for him and his wife to visit Sleep in Heavenly Peace in Twin Falls, Idaho, just like Mike Rowe did, and become trained on how to run a chapter.
The Dawsonville chapter started its bed-building efforts five years ago in Sevier’s driveway. Just like with Saturday’s build, volunteers started with raw lumber and then helped sand, saw and drill it so the bed parts could be ready to deliver to children.
Wooden sections are then loaded for transport and the beds, whether single-level or bunk styles, are assembled at recipients’ houses.
“We try to get the kids to do as much as they can,” Kurz said of the process. “It teaches skills [since] they get to put their own beds together.”
The children often enjoy using tools like the impact gun or mallet during the bed-building process, she added.
“Deliveries are impactful for the families and the volunteers,” Kurz said. “It’s a nice feeling to take some stress off a family.”
It takes several smaller groups doing their parts to help the whole endeavor come together.
Mike and Cara Becker from Fred’s Beds “consistently keep us supplied with mattresses,” Kurz said.
Kurz added that the women’s club gave what she called a “trifecta” of support–the money, the linens and their time.
Women’s club member Debbie Borobitcky explained she learned about Sleep in Heavenly Peace in the middle of the pandemic, when she was helping donate some freezers to The Place of Dawson at RIC-Rack.
She struck up a conversation with Kurz, who was also there at the time and proposed the women’s club help with the bed build as a project.
“We’re very happy to be involved…and then to have us actually get our hands in it is fun,” said Marjorie Jones with the Dawson County Women’s Club.”
The women’s group similarly volunteered to sponsor a linen drive for Sleep in Heavenly Peace later this year.
The Place of Dawson also had two employees and five volunteers helping build beds at Saturday’s event, Kurz added.
Multiple people from the Savannah area also attended and volunteered at the bed build. Bonnie Scurry said she and several others are looking to start Georgia’s ninth chapter of Sleep in Heavenly Peace.
She initially heard about the nonprofit from friends in Chattanooga chapters and wanted to start one in her own area. As it so happened, Dawsonville was hosting the closest bed build that she and other volunteers could visit.
After Saturday’s event, there’s still more beds to be delivered, some of which have been stored since the last build, Kurz said.
The Dawsonville chapter’s next build/delivery will be March 11 at Lumpkin County High School, and Kurz anticipates that event to also be “a big day.” Her chapter already has applications for 28 beds, she said.
With a smile on his face, Sevier reveled in the Dawsonville chapter’s progress since the nonprofit’s first build and their expanded potential at the farmer’s market location. He noted volunteers’ consistent efforts around the builds and estimated they’ve delivered 350 beds to area children.
“We’re so grateful. The community support has been amazing,” he said.
Kurz also thanked locals for their efforts during the chapter’s time in Dawsonville and surrounding areas.
“I’m always amazed at how much people want to help their neighbors,” Kurz said.