By: Kayla McCloud
Sleep in Heavenly Peace (SHP) is an American nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization that builds and delivers beds to children without beds. Their organization is dedicated to building, assembling, and providing top-notch beds to children and families in need. “No kid sleeps on the floor in our town” is what they stand behind.
Sleep in Heavenly Peace gives brothers the opportunity to do handson service that benefits their local community. They get to take part in the fun of cutting the wood, sanding it, and building the beds, and they also get to see the joy on the children’s faces from their own community when they deliver the bed to a local family in need. We have various SAE chapters across the country involved with SHP in some way, shape, or form. The Massachusetts Delta chapter at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) is heavily involved and did great, collaborative work with them this past semester.
The brothers at WPI were unfamiliar with Sleep in Heavenly Peace until they attended SAE’s 84th National Leadership School in August of 2022. Throughout the event’s four days, there was a table in the exhibitor hall dedicated to Sleep in Heavenly Peace. This table stood out to the brothers on the first day, intriguing them to speak with a representative at the table. They learned about their cause, the bedmaking process, and how they could help. “We followed our motivations and exchanged contacts with the SHP representative. After this encounter, we hoped to meet with the regional delegate near our chapter in Massachusetts,” Dylan Phillips (2024), the philanthropy chairman.
Sleep in Heavenly Peace appeared on the third day of Leadership School to teach the attendees how to assemble the beds. Over 200 SAEs banded together to build beds for children in the local Chicago area. It took approximately two hours to build the parts for around 20 beds, each providing a life-changing experience for a family. From that service, the WPI brothers enjoyed their time collaborating on such a rewarding project and knew they needed to find out how to get involved immediately.
After Leadership School ended, only a few weeks were left until the start of the 2022-2023 school year. During the last few weeks of summer, the brothers did not wait to reach out to contact the representative they met from Sleep in Heavenly Peace. Dylan initiated these conversations with former Eminent Archon Evan MacGregor. They exchanged a few words with the Sleep in Heavenly Peace ambassador through email. They described their interests, emphasizing their chapter never being philanthropy-motivated. They made it very clear they wanted to change this moving forward. After a successful conversation, they were given the contact information of the Sleep in Heavenly Peace chapter President, Christopher Alphen, near their school in Middlesex County, Massachusetts.
A phone call was exchanged between the representative and Dylan. It was clear that everyone was thrilled to collaborate and get the ball rolling. Within the first two weeks of school starting back up, three dedicated brothers made a 40-minute trip from Worcester to visit the Sleep in Heavenly Peace warehouse in Littleton, Massachusetts. From this trip, they learned a few things; the Massachusetts Sleep in Heavenly Peace chapter had the transportation and funding resources to make the service simple and easy, and the Sleep in Heavenly Peace chapter President was highly organized and intensely driven, someone who they could learn a lot from.
In order to make this happen, they needed to figure out how to be more helpful toward their SHP Massachusetts chapter. Their biggest priorities were fundraising and assisting with bed deliveries in the Worcester area. They immediately began fundraising since they had high aspirations for their 2022-2023 philanthropic efforts. The chapter started out with tabling in the school campus center, but after three days, they hardly raised enough money for a single bed. After no progress, they shifted gears and set up tables at Shaw’s, a local grocery store. After seeing the success of the change of location, they added a banner to the table to grab more attention. The banner entailed an SHP logo surrounded by pictures from bed deliveries. Each image presented reactions from children seeing their new bed for the first time; the amount of excitement and pure joy that the pictures captured was truly profound.
“The banner was a great reminder of how meaningful our service is and how meaningful our service can be for a child who has not been fortunate enough in their short life to have had a bed,” Dylan said.
In addition to fundraising, the brothers joined Christopher Alphen to make weekly bed deliveries in Worcester. A typical bed delivery entails driving to the household, often in low-income housing units, carrying the pre-built parts into the bedroom, assembling the beds while conversing with the family, and finally, witnessing pure joy as the children see their beds for the first time. The Massachusetts Delta brothers shared that it is truly an eye-opening experience to learn that there are children within a few miles of them who lack the fundamental comfort of a good night’s rest.
After acquiring donations to fund bed materials, they were finally ready to plan a big bed-build at the chapter house. With the purchase of the wood frame, mattress, bedding, and pillow, costs were to come out to around $250. October 8, 2022, was the day they had set up to get to work. They had enough products to make a total of 15 beds.
The bed-build was a huge success. It was the perfect day of weather and the last Saturday before the term ended. Not only were they working tirelessly and efficiently on bed building, but they were also working on growing their brotherhood in the midst of it all. It was exciting for them to bring back service since they had suffered in service hours during the pandemic and hadn’t wanted to pick back up on it.
They grilled hamburgers and hot dogs to celebrate their four hours on the 15 beds. They had 75% of their chapter in attendance, making it easier for them to get done in a timely manner. After completing the bed building, they would assemble the beds weekly into whichever home Chris assigned. These decisions were based on working closely with social workers and SHP.
“The most important outcome from these service experiences for our chapter and brotherhood was that we changed our culture and reset the precedent for future SAEs at Massachusetts Delta.”
If you want to find ways to get involved with Sleep in Heavenly Peace, more information and helpful tips can be found on the SAE landing page https://shpbeds.org/sae/. There are many ways to work with Sleep in Heavenly Peace to help their chapter through Brotherhood, Philanthropy, Alumni, Greek Life, and Campus Life.