Monteagle-Sewanee Rotary Club and Sleep in Heavenly Peace

Last month, a mother of five boys, ages 4-14, completed her court-ordered drug rehabilitation class. She appeared in front of a judge on the Tuesday after the Monteagle-Sewanee Rotary Club had assembled and delivered beds for her sons. She informed the judge that she was rebuilding her sober life and now all five of her sons have beds and are no longer sleeping on blankets or clothes on the floor.

It is too soon to gauge the long-term economic, social, and emotional effects of the Monteagle-Sewanee Rotary’s involvement in Sleep in Heavenly Peace (SHP) volunteering initiative on the Mountain. But at least for that mother, the effect was monumental. The Club joined this national organization in February when it pledged to support the local chapter by setting up a satellite team.

Sleep in Heavenly Peace is an American nonprofit organization founded in 2012 in Idaho. It is dedicated to building and delivering beds to children so that “no kid sleeps on the floor in our town©” as the organization’s motto states. As of February 2022, the organization had 200 chapters in the U.S. and had built more than 100,000 beds. The South Pittsburg Chapter was founded by Norm Flake, a Rotarian, and his wife in May 2021, at the beginning of the COVID pandemic. Thirty percent of the requests the South Pittsburg chapter receives are from our area on the mountain. In response to this need, the Monteagle-Sewanee Rotary Club created a team to support this effort. This has now become a community project. Volunteers from the Monteagle-Sewanee Rotary Club, The Grundy County Rotary Club, and Morton Memorial United Methodist Church received training on client screening and vetting, bed building and delivery. Volunteers from other organizations like the Sewanee Woman’s Club provided bedding. Eleven beds, complete with their bedding, have been delivered on the mountain so far. Additionally, the Grundy County Rotary Foundation supported the effort with a sizable grant and the American Legion Sewanee is providing space, rent free, for storage of bed frames and mattresses . Many other community members have generously donated through the website at <;.

All beds are hand-made by volunteers from donated lumber. Single beds can be assembled within 12-15 minutes, while bunk beds may take twice that long. But the clients’ screening process is probably the most time-consuming segment of the process. The request for beds may come from a family member, a government agency, or a foster parent online or by phone. A meeting is then scheduled, and a trained chapter screener evaluates the legitimacy of the request and works out the logistics of delivery and placement of beds.

The goal of the Monteagle-Sewanee Rotary Club is to continue supporting the South Pittsburg chapter of SHP by training more Rotarians and other community members to build beds, screen recipients, transport the sturdy and permanent beds for children who now sleep on floors, or blankets or clothes. Additionally, the new Isaiah 117 House in Monteagle will receive six beds whose cost has been paid by a generous donor from Morton Memorial Methodist Church.

Although the ultimate effects of the Rotary involvement in SHP SP are yet to be felt and measured in our communities, the immediate “happiness and pure joy of the children is what makes this project so rewarding and worth the effort,” as one volunteer said.

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