At Sleep in Heavenly Peace, we've been fortunate to be able to spread our mission across more than 125 different chapters. And within each of those chapters, you'll find inspiring and unique stories behind the why's and the how's of how their SHP journey got started.
In Missoula Valley, MT you'll find Chris Lunde; Chapter President and SHP Enthusiast. This is a treasured Chapter that we'd like to share with you to give you a glimpse of their unique contributions to the SHP family.
When asked what the inspiration was behind starting the chapter, she responded:
I wasn't actively searching for a cause, but I care deeply about children and understand the struggles that lower income and single-parent households face because I have gone through those struggles in the past. I have always had an interest in community service, but hadn't quite found a cause that really spoke to me, so my participation in the Missoula community was less than I wanted it to be.
In February of last year when Returning the Favor (RTF) happened, I'd seen a couple of social media posts from Jordan Allen (Chairman of the Board) and Jan Spackman (CP Spokane WA)- both of whom I had met over a decade ago while working for the local Lithia Dealership. Their posts were intriguing. It's funny because I didn't even take the time to watch the RTF episode, I just really had a lot of respect for and admired these two people professionally, and had taken notice of what they were doing to help kids. Because of our association, I immediately knew that this must be a very credible cause and reached out to Jordan to ask some questions. During that call, I agreed to start a Chapter. I came home and asked my Co-President (and better half), Ernie, what he thought, he said it sounded interesting, and I said: "good because we are going to training soon!" The rest is history.
Missoula Valley, MT Chapter's Current Numbers
Volunteers to-date: 6
Bunks Built: 4
Kids off the floor who now have beds: 8
Missoula Valley, MT Chapter's Most Memorable Build
When asked what the most memorable build has been and why, she responded:
Our one and only build thus far was certainly memorable and will be forever, I'm sure. We kind of made it happen on the fly, we hadn't really announced our presence in the community yet, but through some professional connections were lucky enough to win a grant from a local foundation in early December and then another business came through with a tool donation. Right before this, a school counselor found our info online and made contact, then spread the word to other area schools. As a result, a lot of our applications came from the schools in town. A lot of these kids were part of families just transitioning out of homelessness. We knew we had to do what we could to give these kids beds before Christmas, so we hustled, built them in our garage with our family and were able to deliver the beds the weekend before Christmas.
Missoula Valley, MT Chapter's Impact in the Community
When asked what impact she has seen in the community as a result of her Chapter's efforts, she responded:
So far, bringing awareness to others that this problem exists has been eye-opening for many. While people are "aware" of the less fortunate, it's something else to realize that their problems don't end at the food pantry.
Chapter Goals for the Coming Year
This year we hope to get to a place of not only taking care of the backlog of applications we have but to also have a surplus ready to go for steady deliveries as needed. If I could put a number on it, 100 beds would be pretty cool.
Why Missoula Valley Finds it Important to Continue the Mission of SHP
When asked why it's important to her Chapter to continue to spread the mission of SHP, she responded:
At a couple of our deliveries, we met children that finally had something to call their own. One little girl said to Ernie, "this is my bed? My pillow?" and was so excited when he said, "yes, this is yours." This little girl's brother piped in with how glad he was that his new bed had a rail because he fell off a bed at the shelter last week. These kids were just at a shelter; it was three days before Christmas, let that sink in... A bed is so simply taken for granted for many of us, ourselves included. We are very passionate about providing peace to these kids. We may never know the effect of the simple act of giving or the tangible gift of a bed but I sense it can change lives and to be able to show these kids, and our kids that there is good in the world, that's a gift, and because of that we'll continue to do what we can to spread the mission of SHP.