For the past four months, Plano West Rotary Club (PWRC) members have supported Bed Start in its mission to provide beds, mattresses and other large home furnishings to local families experiencing great financial need.
Bed Start is a North Texas-based nonprofit that helps individuals in poverty, crisis and/or financial need by providing household furnishings at no cost. Individuals helped by Bed Start have included veterans, single parents, domestic violence victims, refugees, child protective service cases and more. Bed Start volunteers go out twice a week year-round to pick up donated furnishings and deliver those items to households in Plano and surrounding cities. Since November PWRC has committed to helping one Saturday a month, inviting 10 volunteers to roll up their sleeves to work on just one of the multiple crews that go out. From December through February, PWRC sent 22 volunteers that put in 85 collective hours of work on just three Saturdays! Volunteers are only asked to stay until 10 a.m. but many of them generously stay until 11 a.m. or noon to complete the job. The crew picks up and delivers on average $2,000 worth of gently used home furnishings to two or three households per Saturday. Jennifer Shertzer is the PWRC lead for this service project, and she has been joined by Rotarians Isabel Segovia, John Stafford, Julia Stafford, Tara Bidwell and Kelley Crimmins alongside community volunteers in the past three months. Laura Johnson has arrived early multiple Saturdays to assist with registration as well. PWRC is directly serving Rotary’s focus on providing better sanitation and hygiene as well as helping save mothers and children. Every household served so far included families with multiple small children and sometimes also grandparents, all who have been sleeping on the floor, on air mattresses, on soiled mattresses or with multiple individuals sharing one bed for many months. In addition these families rarely have any other furnishings, and have been eating, doing homework and spending all their time together on the floor. Consistently PWRC has served families who said they’ve fled the economic and political crisis in Venezuela. These individuals arrive in Texas with nothing except their clothing and whatever sentimental items they can fit in suitcases. Bed Start and PWRC provide these families with beds, clean mattresses, sofas, dressers, dining room tables, chairs and more. In December the PWRC crew was able to provide one family with a Christmas tree and decorations. The children busied themselves by assembling and decorating it while volunteers worked. Volunteers also work together to move heavy furniture which would be nearly impossible for some of these families to do alone. Often the recipients are right there carrying items alongside volunteers. The impact of this project is immediately seen and deeply felt by all volunteers who assist. “We are greatly improving these residents’ quality of life by providing furniture, but we are also helping to restore their confidence. For the residents who have come from other countries, we make them feel welcome here. The gratitude and love just pours out of them. There are always hugs all around when we leave a home,” said project lead Jennifer Shertzer.