ELYRIA — An Elyria group is making sure no child in Lorain County has to sleep on the floor, by building wooden bunk beds for those in need.
Roger Dorsey, of Elyria, said he and his wife watched a video on Facebook about Sleep in Heavenly Peace, a nonprofit out of Idaho founded in 2012 to build beds for children. From there, the idea to bring the organization to Lorain County blossomed.
“We saw (the video), after my wife and I got done bawling for about half an hour — just at the thought of kids sleeping on the floor — that’s here,” he said. “With much thought, I got on a plane and went to Idaho and got the training to become a chapter president and come back and started putting together a team.”
The group was having its first team build Saturday in Dorsey’s garage, solidifying them as a “launched chapter.” The majority of those in attendance were members of Dorsey’s church, Midway Baptist Church in Elyria. Saturday’s build yielded one bunk bed, funded through donations from people and businesses throughout the city. Ridge Tool donated shop vacuums, drills and tape measurers, another man donated palm sanders and others donated money to purchase the two-by-fours.
Dorsey, who turned 48 years old Saturday, donated his birthday to the cause, putting up a fundraiser on Facebook for it. After a day and a half, it had reached the original $300 asked, prompting him to raise the goal to $600, which would allow the group to make two bunk beds.
“Somebody asked me what I wanted for my birthday, I said twin bunk beds and that’s what we’re getting,” he said “Can’t think of a better way to spend my day.”
Attendees only got one bunk bed done Saturday but plan to make more in future builds, which will be listed on the group’s Facebook page. Companies interested in hosting a build day or residents looking to get involved can contact the chapter via its Facebook page.
The only thing the group didn’t have on hand were mattresses, which it’s hoping to get as a donation or at reduced cost, Dorsey said. They also are looking for a place to store the frames as they build them.
The standard twin beds will be available via an application, which can be found on SHP’s website. Those interested can search by ZIP code to find specific chapters in their area. Families in need can request as many frames as they need, Dorsey said, and after vetting requests, they will do their best to fill the need in the county.
Brenda Watchorn, of Lorain and a member of Dorsey’s church, said she came to Saturday’s build because it seemed like an important thing to do.
“I didn’t realize there were so many kids in our area that were sleeping without (some) kind of bed frame,” she said. “So it seems really important for kids to be up off the floor, there’s all kinds of different things that can happen when they’re not in a bed — bug and rodent situations that you worry about.”
Joshua Smith, wife Rachel and daughter Samara, 9, of Wellington, also joined the chapter. Joshua Smith was in charge of sanding the boards, while his wife and daughter were using a jig he’d made where he worked to punch drill guides into them.
For Joshua Smith, joining the cause was a no-brainer.
“(Honestly) I think it should be second nature to Christians to do whatever they can to help people, and you see so many people who are in need,” he said. “We take it for granted, we think just because we live in Elyria or local towns you think, ‘Oh people in need are only in the big cities.’ It is in Elyria, it is in Grafton, it is in small towns (that) there are people who have absolutely nothing that need help.”
An important aspect of the build for Joshua and Rachel was they didn’t need to have a lot of skills with tools to participate.
“The company that organized it, they structured it all so it’s pretty much dummy-proof,” Joshua Smith said. “You can take people that have never even used a power tool and by the end of the day you can teach them not only how to do it but they’re actually accomplishing something with it. It not only helps other people but it can help the people doing it, you can learn some kind of a skill and see the end result … and it’s not just something that’s going to hang on the wall, this is actually for a good cause and help somebody. It’s very fulfilling.”
Also sanding the boards was Mary and Brittney Dorsey, Roger Dorsey’s daughters. Mary, who is majoring in social work, said it’s been inspiring to watch her father work to bring an SHP chapter to Elyria.
“I know he’s been very committed and he definitely wants to make a difference,” she said. “And I think a lot of it has to do with when he grew up, he didn’t always have a bed to sleep in. So being able to make a difference, it’s inspiring because I’m a social work student, I graduate in the spring with my bachelor’s, so being able to watch him get involved and do stuff in the community is really encouraging for me.”
For Roger Dorsey, SHP is a chance to give a kid a bed — something they can call their own — and he foresees the group having their hands full as word gets out.
“I know we’re going to be busy, there’s no doubt in my mind that we’re going to be busy,” he said. “I’m just hoping that we can make a dent and help get as many kids off the floor as we can. The SHP motto is ‘No kid sleeps on the floor in our town.’ Elyria and Lorain County is our town, and we intend to get folks off the floor as soon and as fast as we can.”