RCMA Helps Kids Sleep in Heavenly Peace

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SHPWhen the Religious Conference Management Association held its annual conference in Chattanooga this January, participants in their Sleep in Heavenly Peace CSR program learned a whole new meaning for the phrase, “put heads in beds.”

The Religious Conference Management Association is always looking for corporate social responsibility (CSR) projects to provide even more meaningful interaction opportunities for its members. For its most recent annual convention, Emerge, held in Chattanooga, Tenn., in late January, RCMA heeded the suggestion of Chattanooga Tourism and partnered with Sleep in Heavenly Peace (SHP). SHP, a volunteer-driven nonprofit dedicated to building and delivering hand-made, fully furnished beds to children in need, sounded like a perfect fit for RCMA’s attendees, who go to Emerge to learn how to better plan meetings and events for religious organizations.

“They brought a trailer load of wood, tools supplies, plus several local volunteers who helped our attendees plug into a role,” said Dean Jones, CMP, CFMP, Director of Conferences & Events with RCMA, who added that 100 RCMA attendees participated in the SHP project. “They have it down to a science, with various workstations, templates and jigs designed to help unskilled laborers build beds. This was set up in one of the exhibit halls at the Chattanooga Convention Center — dust was flying! It was a beautiful sight.”

Jones said SHP volunteers also coordinated four to five smaller groups to go out into the greater Chattanooga area and deliver beds. “I talked with a couple of our attendees that were able to do this,” he said. “It was a very emotional experience for them. At one home, a 6-year-old boy got to help the team carry in his new bed.” In addition to the the solid-wood bed structure, beneficiaries of SHP projects also receive a new mattress, sheets and pillows for the beds.

“It was a great project and those who volunteered loved it,” said Jones. “It was such a natural connection with the hospitality community — who better to be tasked with putting heads in beds!”

With 326 chapters in 44 U.S. states and four countries, and more than 276,000 volunteers, SHP already has delivered more than 140,000 beds to kids who need a safe, comfortable place to sleep.

Jones said that, when RCMA found out SHP was a national organization, “We offered them a complimentary booth in our trade show, in hopes that many of our planner attendees would find a chapter in a city where they’re holding a future event, and partner with them at their own events.”

To learn more about SHP, visit shpbeds.org.

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