Farragut Rotary, SHP build beds for 51 kids

Tom KingFarragut

What a “Build Day” it was! Beautiful weather. More than 70 adults and kids working hard. And when the dust settled, literally, 51 new beds for children without beds in our communities are ready for delivery on Saturday, April 20.

The partnership between the Rotary Club of Farragut (RCF) and Sleep in Heavenly Peace (SHP) clicked again. The professional volunteers set up the work stations in the parking lot at Faith Lutheran Church in Farragut – cutting the lumber, sanding it smooth, drilling holes in all the right places, assembling the headboards, branding the beds and then putting the pieces together.

SHP is a wonderful non-profit led by Bill Thompson of Lake City. There are more kids sleeping on floors, in sleeping bags or on mattresses, that you probably think. And SHP’s motto and goal are the same: “No Kid Sleeps on the Floor in Our Town.”

And they mean it, literally, assembling beds and setting them up wherever the kid lives. After the 51 made last weekend, Thompson has a waiting list for 147 beds, he told us.

So, who makes the ask for a bed? His reply: “Grandparents who become parents again. Single women coming out of addiction with kids, and a lot of foster families. Plus, families having financial problems who can’t afford beds.”

Bill and his East Tennessee cadre of volunteers serve kids in 37 East Tennessee zip codes in six counties and recently added five more zip codes in Blount County. Everybody in SHP – 100% of them – is a volunteer.

Each bed costs $250 and that includes the bedding, sheets, quilts, pillows and pillowcases. Farragut Rotary donated $11,500 to SHP to foot the bill and Lowe’s is a major backer of SHP with donated items and discounts.

The work began around 9 a.m. and was done by noon. “Again, we were overachievers as we finished before noon. Completing 51 beds in three hours is impressive,” said RCF president Val Privett. “We had approximately 70 volunteers from the ages of 6 to 83. Pellissippi State Community College’s Rotaract club had six members who volunteered along with members of the Rotary Club of Tellico, which donated enough money to build five beds ($1,250).

“This year’s Sleep in Heavenly Peace service project was by far hands down the best I have seen or experienced,” Teri Jo Fox said. “I was so honored to be a part of it and our Rotary Club. I had the joy of working with the kiddos and Farragut Mayor Ron Williams for the majority of the time. I feel confident I became an expert on branding. Huxley (Rotarian Kristen Otto’s daughter), Jewls (Val’s granddaughter) and Ella Jett stuck with me for a while. I had such a great day.”

We’re not quite finished, though. The beds still must be delivered and on Saturday, April 20, we’ll help SHP deliver and set up 40 of the beds.

And our president-elect Fox summed it up: “I will say it again – this service project and the impact we are having in our community is what Rotary is all about. Service Above Self at its best.”


Tom King is a career journalist and a past president of the Rotary Club of Farragut, which meets each Wednesday at 12:15 p.m. at the Farragut Community Center, 239 Jamestown Blvd. If you want more information about Rotary or are interested in attending a meeting or joining, please email Tom or text him at 865-659-3562.


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