Posted by Bruce Wood

There are thousands of children in the United States who don’t have a bed at home in which to sleep. “Our mission is getting children off the floor,” said Gary Akin, co-president of Sleep in Heavenly Peace -  Houston-NW. SHP Houston-NW volunteers have built and delivered 1,591 bunk beds to Houston area families with children who need beds.
“No kid sleeps on the floor in our town” is the motto of Sleep in Heavenly Peace (SHP), said Gary Akin, co-president of the SHP chapter in Houston-Northwest to Lake Houston Rotarians on Wednesday, August 11 during their weekly luncheon meeting at the Lake Houston Family YMCA.
According to Mr. Akin there are thousands of children in the United States who don’t have a bed at home in which to sleep. “Our mission is getting children off the floor,” said Mr. Akin. SHP research estimates approximately 3% of the total population represents children sleeping on the floor.
SHP believes a bed should be considered a basic need for a child’s proper physical and mental health. Mr. Akin revealed all 275 of SHP chapters combined have built and delivered over 60,000 bunk beds for children 3-17 years old since the national non-profit was founded in 2012. SHP growth has exploded as more beds were built and delivered in 2019 than in the previous seven years combined.
The Houston chapter has built and delivered 1,591 bunk beds since it was founded in 2018, said Mr. Akin. Every bunk bed is funded by donations and built by local volunteers. Deliveries are also arranged by volunteers and are generally made within a 25-mile radius of SHP’s manufacturing site in northwest Houston.
“We try to make it as simple as possible for someone to get a bed,” said Mr. Akin. He explained there is a simple form on their national website which asks for the children’s name, and existing sleeping conditions. Requests are then routed by zip code to the appropriate SHP chapter.
Donations can be made through SHP’s website at and in-kind donations and gift cards can be donated directly to the Houston-NW chapter. Mr. Akin expressed his appreciation for Lowe’s Home Improvement as they are a major donor and supplier of lumber and materials to build these beds.
Individuals and companies can also sponsor “build days”. These individuals and/or companies provide funding and/or volunteers to build beds at a specified time and day. A work day to build beds typically lasts three hours and 30 volunteers can build 40 beds and 50 volunteers can build 60 beds on a “build day”, explained Mr. Akin.
No experience is necessary for volunteers. There are several steps in the build a bed process and while simple to do, like sanding for example, they are important to the completion of the beds.  Each bed is built from scratch and should last a life-time.
The Houston chapter is fortunate to have a fixed location for volunteers to build beds, Mr. Akin explained. Other chapters are mobile and their construction sites move around. Houston volunteers build beds in a workshop building provided by The MET Church in northwest Houston. .
Every bed is delivered and assembled and comes complete with mattress, pillow and bedding and is free to the family. There’s an average of three beds delivered per household, he said.
SHP also holds “Bedding Drives” where donors purchase a “Bed in a bag” from a company like Ross Dress for Less and donate it directly to SHP-Houston NW. These donation drives provide 70% of all the bedding used. Mr. Akin said SHP also has “Bedding Angels” that help supply bedding that is age appropriate for the child.
The cost of building beds has gone up due to the price of lumber increasing because of the Covid-19 pandemic. It costs approximately $300 for a single twin bed to $500 for a bunk bed and includes mattress and bedding.
Mr. Akin said the two most rewarding things he receives by volunteering with Sleep in Heavenly Peace are the smiles from kids receiving a bed and who may have never had a bed before and the number of people who get involved volunteering for these projects.
Mr. Akin believes there are opportunities here in Northeast Harris County for volunteers, especially delivery volunteers. If you’re interested in volunteering for a build day or deliveries, please contact SHP Houston NW on its website at
The Rotary Club of Lake Houston Area members and guests meet at 11:45 a.m. Wednesdays for their weekly lunch meeting at the Lake Houston Family YMCA, 2420 West Lake Houston Pkwy in Kingwood. The Summer Creek Satellite Club meets the 2nd and 4th Tuesdays of the month at 8:30 a.m., at Generation Park 2nd floor board room, 250 Assay St., Houston.
For more information about Rotary, visit .