Every night thousands of Greater Boston children go to sleep without a bed of their own. They share with family members or sleep on couches or the floor. For many children no bed means a lack of a good night’s rest, which affects their self-esteem, overall development and ability to learn. As a public health issue, this is a critical and hidden problem. To address it, Boston Cares launched The Bed Project in January with a goal of building and distributing 500 high-quality beds in 2014 for children in need, with a focus on those who are transitioning out of homelessness or foster care. The project launched with toddler beds since toddlers sleep up to 14 hours every day.
For a child, a bed is more than a piece of furniture; it is a sanctuary and a symbol of stability in their lives. Going from a crib to a “big kid bed” is an important developmental step for toddlers. A child’s bed becomes a place for adventure, bed time stories, laughter, and, most importantly, security and refuge.
Boston Cares partnered on the Bed Project with skilled furniture makers to design the bed, the New England Regional Council of Carpenters to mill the wood, and other partners for distribution and support. Boston Cares has organized bed build days for the public as well as corporate volunteers and so far more than 200 beds have been made and distributed. Boston Cares is are on track to reach or exceed the 500 bed goal.
Using the same techniques and materials as they would in fine furniture making, skilled furniture makers Nick Roulleau and Eli Cleveland developed a bed design that is affordable, attractive, gender neutral, and easily portable.
The project has received great support from the community. Boston’s then newly inaugurated Mayor Martin J. Walsh, kicked off first bed build at the MLK National Day of Service in January, where 50 beds were made. Since then numerous companies have sponsored bed building days at the Carpenters’ two training facilities in Dorchester and Millbury or on site at their own offices.
Volunteer participants in the Bed Project have included Gates Millennium Scholars on Spring break, seniors at the AARP conference, regular Boston Cares volunteers, union apprentices and corporate volunteers from Target, EMC Corporation, EMD Millipore, Corporate Reimbursement Service, and more. Each has helped to make a good night’s sleep possible for hundreds of toddlers from Worcester to Southern New Hampshire to Greater Boston.
Boston Cares affiliates throughout the Hands On Network have shown great interest in rolling this project out nationally. Stay tuned as we take on that challenge!
The New England Regional Council of Carpenters and Boston Cares teamed up on a special bed build on April 26 that was filmed for the One Day in Boston project. Check out the video here on YouTube.
To learn more about how you or your company can support the Bed Project, please visit www.bostoncares.org/beds.