Jocelyn Chumil-Bernardino will sleep soundly tonight.
“I finally have my own bed,” the 9-year-old said with a grin as she reclined on the freshly made mattress that had been delivered to her bedroom Saturday morning.
Jocelyn’s family was the recipient of three new beds, part of the 50 distributed in the Housing Authority of Bowling Green’s eighth annual “Build a Bed” event done in partnership with Independence Bank and Kentucky AmeriCorps.
The housing authority’s Envision Center saw a flurry of activity as volunteers packed bags full of pillows, books and other donated goodies and unloaded brand new mattresses and bed frames to be dispersed throughout the city to families in need.
HABG executive director Abraham Williams said TempurSealy has always donated the mattresses, which usually retail at around $800. Funding from entities like the Bowling Green Kiwanis Club and local Rotary clubs allows the housing authority to purchase bed frames.
The fluffy donations help sate a constant need for sleeping surfaces.
“The first year we did it we gave about 35 beds to public housing residents,” Williams said. “But during the year people still continued to come, moving from the Salvation Army, moving from BRASS, and we could always still use beds.”
Williams said it’s not unusual for families and individuals “with absolutely nothing” to come to the housing authority for aid.
Brent Austin, a senior lender with Independence Bank who first approached Williams about starting the program, said it’s a “fantastic thing” to give the gift of a secure sleeping situation, something folks may take for granted.
“We’ve seen everything,” he said, recalling homes with handfuls of kids squeezed onto one tiny bed, mattresses riddled with bedbugs and families resorting to piling up clothes to create spaces to sleep.
“If you don’t get a good night’s sleep you don’t feel so good the next day,” Austin said. “You do that every month and it’s no wonder some kids get in trouble or whatever else.”
Williams said he recalled seeing a middle schooler repeatedly fall asleep during a housing authority program at BGHS.
“He couldn’t sleep. He didn’t have a bed,” Williams said. “We know it hurts them. Just think, if you’re a parent and you can’t provide a bed for your kid, how do you feel?”
For Jocelyn, the donation will give her a little more room to rest.
“It was just a bed for us two,” she said, referring to the former mattress she used to share with her twin sister.
Her younger brothers expressed their excitement by crawling in and out from under the new frames and hopping on the mattresses to test them out.
“It’s a life-changer,” Williams said.
Originally published in Bowling Green Daily News
By Jake Moore
September 18, 2023