After seeing a nonprofit organization that builds beds for children in need featured on Mike Rowe’s “Returning the Favor,” Tim Zydek began a journey that would bring Sleep in Heavenly Peace to Kankakee.
Now serving as chapter president, Zydek and his team of volunteers have made hundreds of beds to serve children in the Kankakee area — including Kankakee, Manteno, Peotone, St. Anne, Bradley and Bourbonnais.
“We’ve made 590 beds over the last few years,” said Zydek who began the chapter in 2018. “Our next build should put us over 600.”
The most recent build on Dec. 19 created 30 beds with the help of Project Headspace and Timing, a nonprofit with veterans who collaborate with organizations in their communities. Project Headspace founder Eric Peterson had brainstormed with Zydek the concept of a veteran bed build which recently came to fruition despite the challenges of COVID-19.
“Tim reached out to me about doing a scaled-down version of a bed build to fit within all of the standards and Tier 1 regulations,” Peterson said.
Zydek noted that while Sleep in Heavenly Peace has been well-versed in taking safety precautions during all of the builds since the beginning of the Kankakee chapter’s existence, taking health precautions was new territory. The national organization and its chapters were forced to slow down for about six months due to the pandemic, but are now back to doing events with proper face coverings and distancing protocols in effect.
For Project Headspace and Timing, the pandemic has posed the issue of veterans not being able to be as active in their communities due to health restrictions. Finally getting to collaborate with the program was a win-win.
“I thought it was a good idea for a lot of the veterans because I think a lot of them were missing that community feel,” Peterson said. “And by doing something that’s goal-oriented like building beds, it’s a cause that anyone can get behind.”
Once all of the materials and volunteers are in place, a standard bed build operation takes about three hours. Families in the area with children in need of beds are able to fill out a registration form on the nonprofit’s website. Zydek expressed that without the volunteers and donations from the community, providing beds for the area’s children would not be possible.
“It shows me the hope in the community, the willingness of the community and certainly the generosity of the community,” said Zydek.
With the help of volunteers, the beds were delivered in the days before the end of the year.