A publication of the Kentucky Center for Public Service Journalism

Build A Dream: Safety Net Alliance making 101 beds for 101 kids at Gateway Metro on Saturday 9-noon

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On Saturday, Build A Dream Northern Kentucky will build and deliver 101 beds for 101 kids. This is the third year the event is taking place.

Build A Dream, a project of the Safety Net Alliance of Northern Kentucky, was created to shine a light on the hundreds of children in our community sleeping without beds and to increase awareness of the need for bed donations.

The beds will be built from pre-cut lumber, and come with new, twin-sized mattresses and bedding.

Turfway Build A Dream, 2017

The bed-build will take place at Gateway Community and Technical College’s Urban Metro Campus in the Two Rivers gym in Covington, 525 Scott Street, on Saturday March 10 from 9 a.m. to noon.

More than 90 volunteers working in teams will help build the beds.

Volunteer teams include staff from St. Elizabeth Physicians, UPS, Cengage Learning, Pivot Realty, and Turfway Park.

Applications for the beds were taken from low-income families in Boone, Campbell and Kenton counties through Northern Kentucky social service agencies working with those families. Families with children ages 3-17 were eligible to apply. The 101 bed winners were then chosen by lottery.

The beds will be delivered to families compete with a mattress, sheets, pillow, comforter, book, and hygiene items.

How did this idea come about?

Build A Dream Northern Kentucky is a project of the Safety Net Alliance (SNA) of Northern Kentucky. 

SNA was founded in 2007 after a group of concerned safety net providers came together in response to diminishing resources and increasing demand. The mission of the SNA is to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of safety net services provided to Northern Kentuckians in need.

Volunteers building beds (Photos provided)

The Safety Net Alliance works to achieve its mission through committees including Food, Housing, Work Supports, and Furniture. There are over 130 SNA partner agencies.

The SNA’s Furniture Committee (Be Concerned, Covington Housing Authority, Department of Community Based Services, Kenton County Schools, Center for Independent Living Options, Northern Kentucky Health Department, Brighton Center, People Working Cooperatively, Aetna, Passport, CareSource, etc.) was formed in 2014 after a group of safety net providers identified a need for families to have access to beds. The Furniture Committee tried a couple initiatives but nothing really stuck until the group heard about Morehead State’s Build-A-Bed Program.

After conferring with the team at Morehead State, the SNA Furniture Committee decided to launch Build A Dream in 2016. In 2016, the group built 50 beds, for 50 Northern Kentucky kids in 50 minutes and in 2017 the group built 100 beds for 100 kids. The beds came with a brand new mattress, pillow, sheets, comforter, night light, hygiene kit, and book. The beds were delivered to the homes of each child that day. A child who slept on the floor Friday night slept in their very own bed on Saturday night. Over 150 volunteers made this possible last year.

Why is this an important project to undertake?

Nearly 50% of children in our region live below federal poverty level according to the Cincinnati Child Poverty Collaborative. The need for beds and furniture for families has been a long identified barrier for families on their path to stabilization and self-sufficiency. There is often a six month waiting list for families in Northern Kentucky seeking beds for their children from Safety Net Alliance furniture provider agencies. 

“To thrive academically, kids of all ages—preschool through high school—need to have energy, the ability to focus, concentrate, retain information, and be creative problem solvers. Success at school also requires kids to control impulses and manage emotions and behavior to keep on track. All of these skills depend heavily on healthy, consistent sleep.” – Talia Frye, Brighton Center Workforce Innovation Director & Safety Net Alliance Committee Member

Lovin’ their new beds

Build A Dream will increase the number of beds distributed to children in our region along with increasing the health, wellness, and educational gains of the children who receive a bed. This initiative shines a light on the need for beds/furniture in our community. 

What are the requirements for recipients?

Children ages 3-17
Reside in Kenton, Campbell, or Boone Counties
Not currently have their own bed

“All children desire to feel safe, wanted, and valued. Having the community’s support sends a message to children in our region that they live in a place where people care about them, their well-being, and their future. This project is an investment in the future citizens, workforce, and neighbors of our community. Nothing feels better than people coming together with their time, talent, and treasure to achieve a goal that benefits others,” said Talia Frye, Brighton Center Workforce Innovation Director & Safety Net Alliance Committee Member

“I get emotional when I think about what these children are living without. A bed is such a basic necessity but to these kids, it’s a luxury. When I saw that they were sleeping on a metal or wooden frame every night and heard that they would wake up with back pain at only 8 or 10 years old, it really affected me. I didn’t expect that,” said Christina Wisher of Covington.

“The effort is so well organized that making 100 beds only ends up taking a couple hours of your time. If you cannot make it that day, any monetary donation helps since the children also receive pillows, sheets, toiletries, and other basic items we take for granted,” said Christina Wisher of Covington.

What was it like to deliver the bed to the child?

“During this process I think delivering the beds and putting them together at the child’s home had the most impact on me and my 13 year old son who was also volunteering. We delivered one to a child who was also 13 and my son and he just hit it off instantly. They had so much fun putting the final pieces of the bed together all while discussing Minecraft, video games, and playing instruments. The child that received the bed was so proud to be chosen to receive a bed. It was amazing to see two kids who never met before give each other a hug after knowing each other for about 20 minutes,” said Cathy Wisher of Alexandria.

See the Build A Dream Facebook page.

This project was possible by generous donations and in-kind support from:
Gateway Community & Technical College
Home Depot Foundation
Elsa Heisel Sule Charitable Foundation
The Butler Foundation
R.C. Durr Foundation
Humana CareSource
Turfway Park
Pivot Realty
Huff Realty

From the Safety Net Alliance

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