When I go to bed at night, I sleep on a nice, queen-sized bed in a cool bedroom with privacy and plenty of room to myself. Like most of us, we don’t typically give “going to bed” a second thought. We rarely think that others may not have the same luxury that we have. I however, remember my first ASP trip and how many of the youth at the Kirk of Kildaire Presbyterian, Cary NC learned first-hand that there are many people who don’t have a bed to sleep on.

This year’s ASP trip, with the theme “Complete, but not Finished”, as well as other youth summer trips (to Montreat and Massanetta) were cancelled because of COVID-19. We struggled as to how we could give our high school youth some of the same ASP experiences, without actually going to ASP. We began thinking, “Are there ASP-like builds that we can do here in the Piedmont of North Carolina?”

Our Mission team asked our neighborhood community what are some of your most urgent needs, we got the answer, “We need beds for our children.” Many of our neighbors in lower income housing do not have enough beds and space for their children to sleep. Many children, here in our affluent community of Cary, are sleeping on the floor or couches or together with siblings or parents (in twin beds). The cost for beds – particularly bunk beds- can be greater than $400 per bed, which is beyond the budget of many of our neighbors.

As a way to keep the ASP spirit alive in our youth, the Kirk High School Youth took on a project to build 15 low-cost, strong bunk beds – which can be stacked or separated as need.  Each bunk bed cost about $120 in materials, which were donated from church members. The Kirk Youth built the beds over 3 days (June 23-25) – under great heat and threats of storms (we really missed the cool mountain summer in Appalachia). Working in these conditions, but also under COVID-19 health concerns was a challenge, but our church youth leader, Associate Pastor Jordan Davis, did a great job making sure we were safe and secure.

The first day – we got the “full ASP experience” we had some minor logistics problems and materials were delivered late – thus delaying the start. No problem, we adjusted and did some work around the Kirk and some basic tool safety and training. By the end of day 1 we had at least one bed built and ready for delivery. Day 2 was better as we had worked out most of the kinks in our design and process and our three teams of youth and adults finished 4 more beds. On day 3 we completed 9 beds and ran out of some materials.

The beds are made of construction-grade pine, with pocket hole screws to make a better-looking finish. The upper and lower beds are held together with dowels allowing the owners to take them a part if they need to have them separated.  The pine is painted with a clear polyurethane to provide protection and wood sealing. We provided twin mattress to those who needed them too.

Our youth had a great experience building these beds for our neighbors. We learned some good skills, worked hard, and had great fellowship. Our youth truly enjoyed the ASP joy of working hard for others. Though we got only 14 of our 15 beds done, we all felt that we were “Complete, but not Finished” with the work we need to do to help our communities – both in Cary and in Appalachia. The Kirk is considering doing follow-on bed building projects for more neighbors or other communities. If there are others who want our plans and experiences, we are more than willing to share.  Please contact our Associate Pastor, Jordan Davis jdavis@kirkofkildaire.org.

Rich Woynicz is a former Kirk of Kildaire youth advisor and ASP adult volunteer, and presently is a Kirk AmeriCorps Member responsible for the Kirk’s produce distribution of over 1000 boxes of fresh food to the Western Wake County community.