With the tagline, “No kid sleeps on the floor in our town,” the nonprofit Sleep in Heavenly Peace (SHP) and its countless volunteers put words into action across the country. SHP was founded seven years ago in Twin Falls, Idaho, and now has more than 150 chapters across the country.
Launched in October 2018 by Ijamsville resident Lou Stavely, the Frederick County chapter of SHP this summer alone built and delivered 50 bunkbeds, ensuring 100 Frederick County area children a good night’s sleep.
“We delivered a bed in June,” said chapter volunteer Karl Rathvon, “where the kids had been sleeping on the floor for three years.” Later in the summer, the group delivered beds to a divorced father. “He wanted visitation with his children, but he couldn’t have it because he didn’t have beds for the kids. Now he does, and he gets visitation,” added Rathvon.
Stavely, president of SHP Frederick, coordinated all year with the Frederick and North Frederick branches of Lowe’s to jointly host a build on Sept. 21. Gary Shanholtz, manager of the Frederick branch, and Zach Terwilliger, manager of the North Frederick branch, pooled the majority of their individual $2,500 “Lowe’s Heroes” budgets so that together they could make a larger impact in the community.
This is the first time Shanholtz and Terwilliger have worked on a large project together.
“It’s really about people helping people,” said Shanholtz.
“This project is nice,” said Terwilliger, “because it helps such a wide community of kids.”
“Lowe’s has been really good to us for this build,” said Rathvon. Early in the week, the stores donated lumber to SHP Frederick. SHP volunteers cut the wood to size, then returned it to the Frederick Lowe’s parking lot where Lowe’s had roped off an area for the build. “Almost everything you see,” Rathvon said, “was provided by Lowe’s.”
In addition to the lumber, Lowe’s provided tools, tables and labor for the day. About 20 Lowe’s employee volunteers, dressed in red Lowe’s Heroes t-shirts, worked alongside SHP volunteers. Les Utz, who arrived on-site to volunteer in his first build with the SHP group, said, “It looks like a factory out here!”
Shanholtz and Terwilliger provided water and cookies to get volunteers through the morning as they worked in the sun. The stores also provided lunch for the volunteers.
“It’s a beautiful day for it,” said Rathvon, who was overseeing the layout of the stations and the flow of materials.
Over a period of about four hours, the team built 10 bunkbeds, providing beds for 20 Frederick County children.
After completing setup, Stavely walked all of the volunteers through the assembly line. He explained each station and demonstrated processes like sanding, drilling and dunking. Rathvon had posted instructions at each table, as well as reminders about which station the wood would go to next. SHP volunteers stood alongside each station to assist Lowe’s volunteers.
Rathvon said that the chapter has been receiving a lot of support from throughout the community. “Murphy’s Farm in Ijamsville has provided us space for builds and for storing tools,” he said. “Black & Decker in Baltimore donated thousands of dollars in tools, and we receive blankets and quilts from (the Frederick Chapter of) Project Linus,” a group that donates blankets to organizations that benefit children in the county.
“We are always looking for new sponsors (for Sleep in Heavenly Peace),” Rathvon added. “Once you see the looks on the kids’ faces, that’s what makes it all worthwhile.” To find out how to sponsor “build days” or materials, visit store.shpbeds.org/collections/sponsorship.
To request a bed or refer a family in need, people can visit www.shpbeds.org/request-free-twin-bunk-bed. “If people enter a Frederick County zip code,” said Stavely, “we’ll get the request.”
To follow the Frederick Chapter on Facebook, visit @SHPFrederickCo (Sleep in Heavenly Peace – MD, Frederick Co).