“If you have something burning inside of you that you want to accomplish, don’t wait for permission, don’t wait until you feel ‘qualified’ and don’t wait for someone else to do it.” – Lauren Glass
Sleep. It’s one of my most favorite things to do. Especially naps. They are my favorite.
However, thanks to Lauren Glass, founder of THROW and bed4kids, I’ve learned what I take for granted daily is something thousands of kids wish for. Every night, thousands of children (and adults) go to sleep without an actual bed. Through her organization, beds4Kids, Lauren has provided over 400 beds for kids and teens of East Tennessee, the Greater Atlanta area, and Birmingham in just the last two years.
As this week’s #WCW Spotlight, Lauren shares how something as simple as not having a bed to sleep at night inspired her to create a community where providing something as seemingly ordinary as a be life changing.
Me: How did you learn that approximately 300 kids go “to bed” every night without an actual bed?
Lauren: We have partnered with Lee University in Cleveland, TN, to conduct a nationwide study to find actual stats on how many kids actually do not have beds. This is an issue that has NEVER been researched before. Right now its safe to say that in each city we serve there are AT LEAST 500 kids per city that do not have beds! I had never even thought about the fact that there could be kids that didn’t have a proper bed to sleep in until I watched the movie the The Blind Side. There was a scene in the movie that after the Tuohy family adopts Michael Oher (who went on to play in the NFL) they prepare a room for him full of all the things most of us have always had in our rooms. Bed, furniture, TV, Game System etc. He looks at them and says “I’ve never had one of these before.” They say “what a room of your own?” and he says “No a bed.” From the moment I watched that scene I knew I had to see if this was a real things children were facing! After researching and talking with several Social workers/Teachers I discovered that this is a very real problem that kids EVERYWHERE face!!
Me: What is it about the fact that so many people “go to bed” without a bed at all that spoke to you and resonated so deeply?
Lauren: I just think about myself and how I feel at the end of each day. Life is crazy and only getting crazier. As I go through the day and start to become tired, the only thing I can think is “I cant wait to crawl in MY bed and rest!!” Or when I travel. After a couple of days I catch myself saying “I miss my bed!” But, what if I didn’t have a bed to miss? What if you didn’t have a bed to miss? Or what if the only place you or I had to run to at the end of each day to rest and recharge was the floor? That is a reality for these children. Another thing I think about is some of my favorite childhood memories are of my parents tucking me in at night and reading bedtime stories. Laying together and talking about life and my dreams. Every child deserves a chance to make those memories.
Me: Starting a non-profit is a big undertaking and not something anyone does without careful consideration. Do you recall a specific moment where you realized getting beds to people who need them most was something you compelled to take on?
Lauren: As soon as I watched the scene in the The Blind Side and realized it was truly a problem kids were facing. I knew this was my calling. And that from that point on it was my responsibility to make it happen. Whatever it took.
Me: Has giving back been something that has always been a major part of your life? Or something that developed later?
Lauren: I was raised in church and always very active in my youth group. So I would always volunteer when something came up within our group, but was giving something I was just always super passionate about? Truthfully, not really. I was like every other teenager, focusing on myself, school, sports, friends etc. Sadly. But, once I decided to get myself out of the way, I began to see issues all around me that I could help to improve. And now giving back is literally an addiction! It is truly the happiest, most fulfilling, and brightest spot in my life!!
Me: When you donate a bed to a family, what does that include? Is it just a mattress? Or are you able to provide more?
Lauren: We provide everything! Mattress, Box springs, Frame, bedding & pillows! All brand new
Me: As part of Bed4Kids mission, you partner with organizations that work closely with families in the different states you have a presence. How do you go about selecting the organizations you partner with?
Lauren: We research, research, and do more research—to ensure we are working with credible sources.
Me: You’ve managed to find great success with growth through an ambassador program, enabling you to expand into Georgia, Tennessee, Alabama, and Florida in just two short years. What does it mean to be a Beds4Kids ambassador? And why do you think this program has taken off so quickly?
Lauren: Our Ambassador program is fairly new and we are still working on all of the processes, but it is going really well! To be an ambassador means you work closely with me to head up a chapter of Beds4Kids in your area! We walk you through all of the steps and keep you equipped with all of the tools to make all new chapters successful! To anyone interested in becoming an ambassador please feel free to email me: email@example.com. I think it has taken off so quickly because each person on our team shares the same burning passion. And that is to make sure every child in the US has a bed to sleep in. EVERY child deserves a bed!!
Me: Recently you’ve launched THROW, a bedding company that merges your passion for home décor and giving back. What inspired you to launch THROW in tandem with beds4kids?
Lauren: I am a HUGE follower of TOMS, The Giving Keys, and Krochet Kids. And I have watched for years how they use items they love to create funding for amazing causes! So, I decided I wanted to do the same for beds4kids! Take products we all use and put a new purpose with them. So far, so good!
Me: What is the most popular THROW item? Do you have a personal favorite?
Lauren: We have so many cute items! So, picking a favorite is a tough one!! But, I would have to go with our world changer pillow cases. Right now we are working on several different dog themed pillows which happened on accident, but has been so fun! Our most popular item right now is our goldendoodle inspired pillow—“Home is where the doodle is.”
Me: Running an organization is a tough job – especially one that deals so closely with so many needy, qualified families. What keeps you motivated to keep going?
Lauren: The kids. If I start to feel defeated or really just tired I go back and watch videos of past deliveries and look at pictures! Once I see those smiling faces and hear the laughs, I’m like ok. I can do this.
Me: You started beds4kids at a very early age and have defied the odds by how quickly you’ve grown and how many families you’ve helped. What is an accomplishment you’ve achieved that you never imagined possible when you first began?
Lauren: Being in more states than just TN my home state! To see so many people from all over SO incredibly passionate about beds4kids is a dream come true.
Me: What is the one piece of advice you would want to share with someone who wants to follow in your footsteps of using their own unique talents and life experiences to give back?
Lauren: JUST DO IT! If you have something burning inside of you that you want to accomplish, don’t wait for permission, don’t wait until you feel “qualified” and don’t wait for someone else to do it. If you just step out and faith, God will work out the details of your dream. I’ve learned on this journey that God doesn’t care if you are “qualified” he only needs you to be willing. I am living proof! AKA I’m the biggest goof ball around!