“It’s Mike Rowe’s fault,” said Skip Sevier as he wiped a tear from his eye.
When Sevier and his wife, Veronica, sat down one February day to watch Mike Rowe’s Facebook series, “Returning the Favor,” their hearts were broken as they watched volunteers building beds for children who were sleeping on the floor.
Rowe, of Dirty Jobs fame, began a web series highlighting people who give back to their communities in August 2017. It wasn’t until an episode featuring Sleep in Heavenly Peace that debuted Feb. 13 caught the Sevier’s attention and changed their lives.
Sleep in Heavenly Peace began in December 2017 in a garage in Twin Falls, Idaho as a way to provide one family with a bed for children in need, and grew into a network of volunteers who sought to provide free beds for children who don’t have beds of their own.
“We saw the show and we were both in tears by the time it was over, and I said ‘I’ve got to get ahold of those people,’” said Skip Sevier, who was so touched by the episode that he decided to begin a local chapter in Dawsonville.
On Sept. 8, Sevier opened his home to nine fellow volunteers for the SHP Dawsonville chapter’s inaugural bed build with the goal of completing the components for 10 beds, or five bunks, by the end of the day.
Under the cover of the Appalachian forest, sounds of palm sanders and saws filled the air as Sevier’s dream came to life. By the end of the day, the team had created five beautiful wooden bunk beds ready to be assembled for local children.
“I felt great about what we accomplished,” Sevier said. “Aside from not being able to stain our beds today, we did produce the components to build our 10-bed goal so a short work session will get us ready for delivery.”
After the handcrafted beds were stained, each was branded with the SHP logo. Once a request comes in for a bed, Sevier and his team will deliver the components and assemble the bunk bed at the delivery site, complete with a mattress, sheets, pillows and comforters.
While Sevier was receiving his training at the SHP headquarters in Twin Falls in June he had the opportunity to deliver his first bed, an unforgettable experience that reinforced Sevier’s commitment as chapter president.
“We met this young man. He had fought for months to have custody of his own children and won custody. At what cost, who knows. But we walked into this apartment and his clothes and his kids’ clothes were on the floor in grocery bags. He was still unloading his car,” Sevier said. “The kids weren’t there but we brought in the pieces and we put that bed together with its beautiful colored sheets, pillows and comforter. That was the first stick of furniture in his new home, and that was the day before Father’s Day.”
The memory from that day stays with Sevier as he looks toward the future when the Dawsonville chapter begins delivering its own beds.
“The impact of that on my heart – I have to believe the impact on the hearts of any who delivers a bed will be changed forever,” Sevier said.
After the episode featuring SHP aired, there was an explosion of interest from people like Sevier who wanted to help provide for their communities.
At the end of 2017, there were nine chapters of the nonprofit that built 784 beds, or 392 bunks.
As of Aug. 31, 2018, there were 99 SHP chapters in 36 states and 1,734 beds, or 867 bunks, have been built.
Each bunk bed, including materials and bedding, only costs $350 to build and is suitable for children aged three to 17.
Children either sleeping on the floor or sharing beds with siblings isn’t an issue that is only found in the ghetto or in rural areas, according to Sevier. Suburban and urban communities are also affected.
The Seviers, who moved to Dawsonville in September 2017, saw the need for children’s beds in the community and have begun reaching out to local nonprofit organizations such as KARE for Kids, Dawson County Family Connection and the Lumpkin County Habitat for Humanity to help increase their impact.
“We are so excited about ministering in this community,” Sevier said. “Our goal is to bless the kids.”
The Dawsonville chapter currently serves Dawsonville and Dahlonega, but Sevier hopes as the word continues to spread and more volunteers get involved, they will be able to expand their reach into Hall, Forsyth and Pickens counties.
Requesting a bed is a simple process that is done through the SHP website. The only requirement is having a child, or children, who do not have their own bed. For more information on Sleep in Heavenly Peace or to request a bed, visit shpbeds.org.