Happy Birthday!

Local birthday wish gives 10 local children their own beds; more to come

Shane and Laura Quick. (Photo courtesy of Laura Quick)

CULLMAN, Ala. – Laura Quick had a birthday wish that did not involve getting any gifts, but giving them instead. Thanks to her idea and help from local businesses and groups, 10 area children are, or will soon be, sleeping in beds of their own. 

On Thursday, following weeks of preparation, Laura Quick and husband Shane Quick publicly launched their Dream Different Project to “ensure that every child in Cullman County has a safe place to dream about their future.” 

“I used to serve on a board a couple of years ago, based up in Tennessee, an organization called Beds for Kids, and their sole mission was to give beds to children that had never had them before or didn’t have them,” said Laura Quick. “And so, the end of last year, Shane and I just started talking about what are some needs that we see or that could exist in Cullman, and how could we just figure out if they’re really there. And so, we started asking a lot of questions, called the United Way, reached out to DHR, reached out to Desperation Church, and just said, ‘Hey, we’re wondering: are there children in Cullman, Alabama that do not have beds?’ And very, very, very quickly we learned that that is a real thing. We saw that there was a need. We quickly started hearing from DHR; a lot of school counselors were letting us know.” 

“And really, there’s two big initiatives just for our marriage, the things that we love to give back, and one of them is childhood poverty, and the other one is mental wellness, mental health. And so, we kind of filter everything that we’re giving to, personally, back to that. So this will really fit into that. We know what happens when a child is, maybe they’re in a poverty situation, maybe they just have a single mom and she’s barely making ends meet, or whatever the case may be; I mean, there’s lots of different situations. Maybe someone’s just got custody of a child and they just don’t have a bed, yet. But we knew that there was a need, and so we started to work very quickly. 

“We’ve kind of rallied the troops. Honestly, quietly, a lot of different for-profit companies have come together to make it work. We’ve done about six bed deliveries so far, and we’ve amassed a list that actually has 10 families on it, but I think it has a little more than 10 beds. But we have calls coming in weekly for children that are sleeping without a bed right now in Cullman County.” 

Quick partnered with Desperation Church to set up the organization as a nonprofit whose donations are tax-deductible, and to make use of the church’s active volunteer base. 

Said Quick, “They’re going to help us mobilize volunteers, and making sure that we source the right bedding, because the whole goal is to make sure that we find out from the mom or the dad or the caregiver what the child is interested in. And not only are we giving them a Tempurpedic twin mattress with box spring and rails, and their bedding of choice and new pillows, but we’re also having a really meaningful interaction with them. 

“What studies show is that it only takes one voice to say, ‘Hey, you can dream a really bold, audacious dream, and do something amazing with your life; you can start that now.’ And so we hope that, maybe, we can be that catalyst and that voice. And so the volunteers will be trained that way.” 

Dream Different Project’s partners, in addition to Desperation Church, include United Way of Cullman County, Rock the South and Beds Express. 

Meeting the need 

Shane Quick shared that the first 10 beds were already spoken for and added, “It’s mind blowing to realize how many children in our community are sleeping on the floor at night, sleeping on a pallet or sleeping on a couch. Sometimes you have multiple kids in one bed. Sometimes you have kids sleeping with their parents later in their pre-adolescence. 

“We figured that that problem probably existed in our neighborhood. And to go out on some of these bed deliveries, to be able to spend time with these children, and see them be able to help make up their bed for the first time, and it be the kind of bed that they would want — with the Ninja Turtles, or Barbie, or Minecraft or whatever bedding, you know, it’s a real special thing, knowing these kids will get better sleep and have a bed of their own. A lot of us take it for granted having our own bed and what that means. 

“Just like always in Cullman, all you have to do is mention the need and people line up to be a part of the solution.” 

Laura Quick concluded, “Today we have received so many calls, so many texts, literally, organizations, for-profit companies reaching out, saying they want to be a part, signing up for sponsorships. Leaders of R.E. Garrison running competitions, like managers saying, ‘I’ll match everything that my team raises.’ It’s just a really special thing to know that we’re just laying groundwork to not only, if we hit the goal — which my goal was like ‘I just want to make sure that all these babies have beds by my birthday, which is Saturday — but then to say anything above that just means that there is a fund sitting there; the moment a need arises, we can fill the need, which is really special. 

“And I just love that about Cullman. I think it’s what’s special about a small community: it can be a small community, but it has such a big heart.” 

For more information on Dream Different Project, including how to volunteer or donate, visit https://dreamdifferentproject.com

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W.C. Mann