Volunteers for Bed-making Nonprofit, Sleep in Heavenly Peace, Serve as Jesus’ Hands and Feet

Written by Paul R. Kopenkoskey on . Posted in Local

shp From left: Sid Sinnema, Sue Thompson and Aurene Sinnema display the SHP brand and a small version of a bunk bed Sid built. When it's time to call it a day, Jim and Sue Thompson do what many take for granted: They sleep in a bed.

But as Sue discovered early last year, not every child has a bed of their own to sleep in, a fact that motivated her into action when she became the Cedar Springs chapter president for the Twin Falls, Idaho-based, Sleep In Heavenly Peace (SHP).

With 115 chapters in 39 states, the nonprofit rallies volunteers like Jim and Sue to hand-make bunk beds for children ages 3 to 17 who have one of their own. Requests for beds are made through SHP's website, shpbeds.org.

No child sleeps on the floor

SHP's catchphrase is "no kid sleeps on the floor in our town."

It's a slogan the Thompsons have taken to heart. They've enlisted the help of their friends Sue and Aurene Sinnema in Rockford, who Sue calls her second in command. The Thompsons and Sinnemas attend Grace Evangelical Free Church in Rockford.

While SHP is not expressly a Christian nonprofit, the Thompsons and Sinnema's faith is what motivates them to make a difference.

"God has made me the hands and feet of Jesus to reach children who are in circumstances beyond their control," said Sue. "It's taking care of the children. They didn't ask for the circumstances they are in."

Wherever the Lord leads

While Sue is the Cedar Springs chapter president of SHP, she is determined not to allow geographical boundaries define whom she can help.


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"We are going to wherever the Lord leads," she said. "We know that our starting base is within 25 miles of (our) house. Jim has 20 plus years of woodworking experience and worked at Hekman Furniture."

SHP requires its volunteers to adhere to its strict guidelines. All materials used must be new, including the mattresses; beds made must follow the SHP-provided pattern; no one is paid for the work they do; all boards used to make the beds are to be cut, sanded and stained; boards must be 2x6, 2x4 and 1x4. The only letter marking allowed on the boards is the SHP brand that volunteers purchase.

Jim and Sid have woodworking experience, but carpentry skills are not necessary as long as a person is willing to learn. Practically, that means volunteers can be taught how to use woodworking tools, as well as how to measure, level and make woodcuts; sand and stain wood; and learn how to brand a bed.

Attention to detail is required in other ways as well so a child does not suffer a splinter.

"You can't have boards with any fringe edge," said Sid.


The majority of beds, which cost around $300 to make, are bunk beds. They are usually assembled on the site where the donation will be made.

"Typically children live in small rooms, so they don't have a lot of space," Sue said as the reason most are bunk beds. "So you try to conserve space because you don't have a lot of space."

"God tugs at your heart," added Sue. "You can help, you can provide this basic needs. I'm not rich. (But) I can get people to assist and take care of this. It's not their fault."

Married 52 years, Sid and Aurene raised four children during some lean times. It's that empathy for others that motivate them to their volunteer for SHP.

"We raised four kids when we didn't have a dime to our name," said Sid. "But we always had groceries. We always had a roof over our heads. God saw to it that our needs were not our wants. Now we have four children and they're all in the world as productive citizens making their mark. So we have to be the hands and the feet of Jesus. He says love the children. They're mine."

"How will the kids know if they don't receive love from somebody who truly cares?" added Sue. "I've been changed because of the examples of other Christians to love others in their circumstances."
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Author Information
Paul R. Kopenkoskey
Author: Paul R. KopenkoskeyWebsite:
Paul R. Kopenkoskey is a full-time freelance writer and editor for an assortment of publications including Grand Rapids Magazine, Grand Rapids Business Journal, and Faith Grand Rapids magazine. He has completed his first novel with the working title, Karl Beguiled. He and his wife, Barb, live in Wyoming, Michigan. They have three children and five grandchildren.

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