Beaumont Elks take on a new community challenge: Heads Without Beds
Published 4:46 pm Tuesday, May 12, 2020
To The Leader
Did you know that one in five people in the Golden Triangle live below the poverty level? About one in ten struggles to make ends meet with less than half of the federal poverty level of income.
It is difficult to find the actual statistics, but too many boys and girls go without a bed or even a pillow to sleep on because their families cannot afford one. These children end up sleeping on couches, blankets, and even floors. This can affect their health as well as their happiness.
Sleep in Heavenly Peace (SHP) is a national non-profit with chapters spread across the country. They believe that a bed is a basic need for the proper physical, emotional, and mental support that every child needs. SHP is a volunteer organization that builds beds for kids who are sleeping on the floor.
The local chapter is led by Jack Seeley in Beaumont, a group of volunteers dedicated to building, assembling and delivering top-notch bunk beds to children and families in need throughout the Golden Triangle.
Seeley said, “We are so proud to start this relationship with the Beaumont Elks and with CASA, two organizations with such a strong history of helping children. And we expect that relationship will continue to grow as we move forward.”
The Beaumont Elks have been serving this community since 1895. The Elks Lodge is much more than just a building. It’s a place where neighbors come together, families share meals, and children grow up.
Today with the COVID-19 pandemic, like everyone else, the Elks are practicing social distancing and using Personal Protective Equipment (masks, gloves, etc.). In spite of COVID-19, the Elks continue to invest in our community through programs such as Sleep in Heavenly Peace that help children grow up healthy and drug-free.
Ella Johnston-Leger, the Exalted Ruler (president) of the Beaumont Elks, said, “It was a great discovery for us to find Sleep in Heavenly Peace here in Beaumont. The Elks commitment to children is well known and we are pleased to start up a relationship with them.”
She went on to say, “In addition to the donation for materials for new beds, the Elks are committing to staff at least one “Build Day” with 15-30 volunteers between the time Texas allows it and the end of this year. That alone could add another 30-40 beds to the supply.”
As a special side benefit of this donation, the Elks are asking that SHP reserve some of the new beds created at this Elks Build Day for sharing with the CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocates) groups that cover the Golden Triangle.
The two local CASA offices give voice to the abused and neglected children in Orange, Jefferson, Hardin, Jasper, Newton, Sabine and Tyler counties.
Codie Vasquez, Executive Director of CASA of the Sabine Neches Region, said, “When children are removed from their home, there is an urgency to get them placed in a safe environment. Often times, this can be a relative who may not have the immediate funds available to secure a bed for a child. Additionally, a family that has been involved with CPS that is working hard to put their life and family back together is usually working with a very limited income and does not have the funds to purchase a proper bed after paying for rent, utilities and groceries for the month.”
According to Vasquez, dedicating beds to kids served by CASA is expected to increase the capability of providing foster families to needy children.
She said, “Access to beds and cribs make it possible for siblings to stay together. A new bed or crib can be the difference between a child living with family members or with complete strangers while in foster care. And in other cases, can make it possible for children in foster care to go back home to their parents.”
The donation to SHP was enabled by a Gratitude Grant from the Elks National Foundation, part of the Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks.
Beaumont Elks Lodge #311 is extremely proud to have been able to make these connections happen.