FLUSHING, MI — The Flushing Chapter of the national volunteer organization Sleep In Heavenly Peace (SHP) will be holding its first public community bed build in an effort to help children in need.

The community build on Saturday, June 12, will gather volunteers from across Genesee, Shiawassee, and Tuscola Counties – the three counties that the Flushing chapter oversees – to partake in a national event called Bunks Across America.

“Our mission statement is no child sleeps on the floor in our town,” said Karen Gasperosky, co-president of the SHP Flushing Chapter. “Giving a child a bed to sleep in, a warm and safe place rather than curled up under a blanket and a pillow on the floor, is better for their health, better for their well-being and their self-esteem.”

The annual event, now in its third year, hosted by the national SHP organization, will seek to build about 7,500 beds with the help of 15,000 volunteers from at least 150 SHP chapters across the nation.

Last year, Bunks Across America was able to build 4,637 beds with the help of over 6,200 volunteers from 118 SHP chapters, according to the nonprofit organization’s website.

For Saturday’s community build, SHP-Flushing will be coming together from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at Millington High School, located at 8537 Gleason St. Building will take place within the high school’s shop class, according to Gasperosky.

“The school is letting us use their whole shop area, and they’ve cleaned it out for us so we can go in there and use the tools,” said Jody Dean, the co-president of the SHP-Flushing Chapter. “(We) had the wood dropped there today, and they’re going to let us store the heads and footboards and the wood there until we can get them delivered.

“We’ve had great community support and the community has gotten behind us, and we have tons of people that are volunteering.”

Although she doesn’t have an exact number of how many volunteers have already signed up, Gasperosky estimates there will be between 40 volunteers gathering to build beds on Saturday.

“I know that the masons out in Millington are going to help, and I also know that the Amish community out there is going to be involved, and there’s one church out there too, and I have volunteers coming from the Flushing area,” Gasperosky said.

The chapter aims to build 30 beds on Saturday, which is three times more than their previous build a couple months ago. The first two builds the Flushing chapter hosted were held within the group’s network and it was mostly to learn how beds are made. In their first build, the chapter put together two beds.

Gasperosky said families who’d like to qualify for a bed can apply at the SHP-Flushing website, and people can recommend someone to qualify for a bed as well.

“We don’t do a lot of investigation other than to talk to the family involved and try to get a sense of why they need the beds,” Gasperosky said. “Usually a lot of times they do come from organizations, so we feel that we can pretty much trust that the need is real.”

Sleep In Heavenly Peace was started back in 2012 by Luke Mickelson, a Twin Falls, Idaho resident who built a bed for a single parent during the holiday season.

Gasperosky learned about the nonprofit organization just last year when she came across a 2018 episode of the Facebook Watch web-series, “Returning the Favor,” hosted by Mike Rowe, in which SHP is featured.

After watching the episode, Gasperosky began finding ways to get involved with the organization, learning and training within the program, and eventually after four attempts, being invited to join. She then got Dean involved by telling her, “you know we can do this together,” and ever since, the pair have been working together and doing everything they can to grow SHP and get more people involved.

“We deliver them (beds) right to the house, and we set them up in the house – the headboard, the footboard, the side rails and we put them together once we’re there,” Gasperosky said. “They also get a mattress and a pillow and a new set of linings. If you went with us on one delivery to put up a bed in somebody’s home, and see those little kids climbing into their beds for the first time, it’s just amazing just to see it happen.”

Dean said their work and efforts are all going toward the children of Tuscola, Genesee and Shiawassee counties, adding that to her, it’s not good that kids, especially the coming generations, to be without beds as it can take an emotional toll.

“Sorry, I get very emotional about children,” said Dean, excusing herself for a moment. “If we can keep doing these builds, making these bunk-beds, we can get these delivered to kids that are sleeping on floors.”

To volunteer or donate, visit shpbeds.org and look for the Flushing-MI chapter under the “Find My Chapter” tab, or visit the chapter’s Facebook page.

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