The Western Wayne County chapter of Sleep in Heavenly Peace held its build and bedding drive Nov. 5 at the Southfield’s Department of Public Works.

The Western Wayne County chapter of Sleep in Heavenly Peace held its build and bedding drive Nov. 5 at the Southfield’s Department of Public Works.

Photo by Patricia O’Blenes


Volunteer group in Southfield changes lives one bed at a time

By: Jonathan Szczepaniak | Southfield Sun | Published November 10, 2022

 The more than 150 volunteers at the build Nov. 5 were split into groups to perform certain tasks, such as sanding.

The more than 150 volunteers at the build Nov. 5 were split into groups to perform certain tasks, such as sanding.

Photo by Patricia O’Blenes

 The chapter holds five builds a year, and volunteers are always welcome.

The chapter holds five builds a year, and volunteers are always welcome.

Photo by Patricia O’Blenes

SOUTHFIELD — A local group has vowed to make a difference in the lives of young children.

The Western Wayne County chapter of Sleep in Heavenly Peace, founded in 2018, is a 501(c)(3) organization that has dedicated itself to making sure that every child in metro Detroit has a bed to sleep in.

The chapter held its annual Bunk Bed Build and bedding drive Nov. 5 at the Southfield Department of Public Works.

“When we did our first build, we did 10 beds,” chapter president Wendell Gramlich said. “Then we did 20, and now we’re doing 50.”

Since its founding, the chapter, which holds five bed-builds a year, has built and delivered over 700 beds and amassed almost 1,000 volunteers to assist in the process.

The chapter has team leaders who train the volunteers on how to build the beds, and from there other volunteers can assist in loading and unloading trucks.

“I’ve enjoyed doing it, and I’ve seen the need firsthand,” Jeff Lauffer said. “It really hit home with me.”

Lauffer, a Northville resident, is a team leader for the chapter and has been a part of the efforts since February 2020.

Lauffer said he saw a news story on the chapter’s bed build and bedding drive.

Lauffer said it surprises him how many volunteers help out at each build.

“It really does amaze me that you can get 150 people to show up and build beds, especially when they don’t even know what they’re doing when they show up,” Lauffer said.

The twin-size beds come fully furnished with pillows, comforters, sheets and mattresses, with the twin-size bed-in-a-bag sets coming through the bedding drive.

Gramlich said there’s one thing that reminds him why they do it when they deliver the beds.

“It’s very rewarding knowing that we’ve helped so many children,” Gramlich said. “To me, the best part is doing the delivery and seeing that child’s face light up.”

When Gramlich’s wife worked as a paraprofessional for Wayne Westland Schools, he said, there was a student who struggled because he was tired during school.

“She found out that over the break he had lost his mattress and his bed,” Gramlich said. “His family had moved, but for some reason it got discarded.”

Gramlich said he later saw a Facebook show with Mike Rowe called “Returning the Favor” that highlighted Sleep in Heavenly Peace and their efforts in the community.

Inspired by the organization, Gramlich said he knew he wanted to start his own chapter in the community.

“I knew if there was one kid at one school, there had to be dozens in the western Wayne area,” Gramlich said.

Now the chapter has grown in every aspect, with sponsors including Lowe’s, Stor-N-Lock Self Storage in Westland, Absopure Water in Plymouth, Men on the Move and the Looney Baker in Livonia, Prince of Peace Catholic Church in West Bloomfield, and more.

Gramlich said the biggest improvement has been with the surrounding chapters.

“We were chapter No. 23 with Sleep in Heavenly Peace back in 2018, and now I think there’s over 300 chapters in North America,” Gramlich said. “That’s pretty awesome to see that growth.”

The hope is that local chapters will continue to grow with more and more people feeling inspired by the organization.

There are currently 10 chapters in Michigan, with Auburn, Cedar Springs, Flushing, Holland, Kelloggsville, Lansing, Muskegon, Plainwell, Wayne and Wexford all having chapters.

“I’m really hoping someone will create a chapter; we really need more chapters,” Gramlich said.

Anyone interested in starting a chapter, looking to volunteer for a chapter, or hoping to apply for a bed can visit shpbeds.org. Applicants for the beds must be the legal guardian of a child or children from ages 3 to 17.