“Beds for Kids”! Their mission is to provide beds and other furniture essentials, specifically furniture to children and their families that are in need. In 2010, there was a group of individuals led by Tim Rowley, delivered a few furniture pieces to a family who had recently moved out of a shelter in Charlotte, and into a home. I think for the most part, this particular organization realized, there was somewhat of not necessarily a market, but that there are thousands who were moving into housing and were in need of beds and other essential furniture. Initially operating out of a 30’x10′ storage unit off South Blvd., Beds for Kids provided 282 beds to children and families in need. As of today, Beds for Kids serves almost five times that number of beds and essential furniture to families all over Charlotte, NC, (http://bedsforkids.org/how-we-serve/how-it-works/).
Not only does the need for beds and furniture increase each year, but so does the number of people that are being turned down in this specific organization, due to a massive waiting list. Without the support of the community, it would literally be impossible for “Beds for Kids” to continue providing beds and essential furniture to children and their families in need. I’m sure many of us could not imagine not having decent furniture in our homes, to support more than anyone else our children. Which is why it is vital that we, as human service professionals understand there is a need to afford or access basic furniture and furnishings. Having decent furniture, not only provides a household with a decent quality of life, but also having the ability to participate in the norms of society.
There are 3 ways to donate furniture. Pick up, drop off and bed kits. Beds for Kids picks up from most of the Charlotte and Lake Norman areas. There is also an option to drop off, due to having time conflicts. Lastly, bed kits. Many times when furniture is delivered, linens and pillowcases are items that still may be needed,(http://bedsforkids.org/how-we-serve/how-it-works/. Which is why, bed kits are essential. In this particular organization. For example; twin size Bed Kits are needed the most (typically for those ages 5-18 and for both boys and girls). However, Beds for Kids also attempts to provide for parents as well, which is why full and queen size bed kits are always accepted. I’ve chosen furniture poverty, because I think it’s definitely a that is not talked about as much. I also think, this particular market is often a silent issue, for the most part because its prevalence is hidden behind the front door. However, furniture poverty affects a growing number of low income households in communities across the world. It’s something that exists behind closed doors, no one sees or hears about it. Many of us understand the role that food, clothing and shelter play in our lives, but we often take furniture for granted until we no longer have access to it.
Being able to furnish homes, and the community is one of the many current trends Bed’s for Kids has that impacts social change. Their organization’s overall goal, is to provide furniture at little or no cost to families and individuals living in poverty and with other severe life crises. By doing this service, the program hypothesis would be that the mission for Bed’s for Kids is to continuously furnish homes across the world. Hopefully, by furnishing communities, it not only encourages but also guides more cities to establish furniture banks, and/or non-profit organization for low-income communities. Not being able to afford basics such as a bed and a good quality mattress can have an extreme consequence for an individual’s quality of life. Returning home from a potentially stressful day’s work in a low-paid job and being unable to get a good night’s sleep due to having to sleep on a thin, poor quality mattress can definitely lead to an increased level of stress.
For most families with young children the effects of furniture poverty can be extremely severe. Especially when it comes to getting enough sleep. For children this is a must! Especially at this early stage of their development, sleep is of vital importance to their health and growth, and missing out on proper rest is known to result in poor attention, lower grades, school absences, social interaction issues and irritability. General health is also affected, with studies linking lack of sleep to hormonal disorders, diabetes, obesity and high blood pressure. Many of these physical and psychological problems can also apply to adults who are suffering from poor quality or a lack of sleep, and it’s the people living in poverty and low-income housing who are suffering the most.
14 per cent of people living on a low income (less than 15,000 per year) say their bed is the reason for poor sleep quality. Unfortunately, many of these individuals aren’t able to access new mattresses. Having a good night’s sleep is essential to one’s living. And having an excellent quality mattresses and/or bed should not be restricted to only those with high levels of disposable income. We should all be aware and mindful, especially when there are pieces of furniture and items that can be broken down and used to create brand new, superior quality products. It should never be ok, for families to resort to sleeping on floors and uncomfortable surfaces when they could be sleeping on a comfortable bed. Rather than just getting rid of unwanted furniture, as human service professionals, we must raise awareness of furniture banks, and possible recycling opportunities available to us and how the resulting products can be put to good use by someone in need.
The overall goal is to identify and partner with more companies, charities, and housing associations to source good quality, affordable mattresses and beds for children and families living in furniture poverty. In doing so, we can help give families the good night’s sleep they deserve. Affording to live has become increasingly harder, for all families. With debt, comes stress and relationships commonly breakdown due to the added pressure of financial crisis, which is why if furniture is something we can all eliminate, and why we should invest as much as possible.