On December 3, 2022, YMCA of Coastal Georgia’s A Place to Dream program will make a delivery of 10 beds for children without their own dedicated place to sleep. With a delivery scheduled for this month, the YMCA of Coastal has a goal of delivering at least 250 beds by the end of 2022 in the entire Savannah Area. In Bulloch County, the 2023 goal is to double the number of beds to 20 beds donated in the community.
Every night, many Coastal Georgia children sleep on floors, couches, chairs or in shared beds with siblings or other family members. Many of these children are not getting the recommended amount of sleep per night, putting them at risk for cognitive and developmental delays. According to GEEARS (Georgia Early Education Alliance for Ready Students), the most rapid period of brain development happens between birth and age 8, where sleep is most essential to this growth. “When we really looked at the level of need, we knew we had to react,” says YMCA of Coastal Georgia President & CEO Joel Smoker of the program’s initial development. “Research continually demonstrates the effects a good night’s sleep has on a child’s mental, emotional and intellectual development. If we can provide the tools to help children thrive, we’re going to act.”
In partnership with the Housing Authority of Statesboro, L.A. Waters Furniture, and Emergency Training, the Y’s A Place to Dream program provides a twin-size bed frame, mattress and pillow, complete linen set and a gift bag with a story book, bible, and a stuffed animal. Thanks to the Bulloch County food pantry are also provided with one bag of groceries. In December of 2021, the program expanded to Statesboro with the delivery of 10 bed sets, gift bags, and a bag of food items from Statesboro’s TMT Farms.
Heading the program up is YMCA Pastor Herb Hubbard. Pastor Hubbard was himself a foster child and understands the strain that not getting a good night’s sleep can place on children. “When I was a child, I often felt insecure in foster housing, and not sleeping well made it extra tough on me in school,” he explains. “I was also afraid of the dark—that’s why I think it’s important that we include a small flashlight in all our gift bags. So that the children don’t ever have to be afraid of the dark and can rest easy.”
All funds raised for A Place to Dream go directly to the support of the program, offsetting the cost per bed of around $300, and expense of purchasing and filling the gift bags with books and other supplies. L.A. Waters Furniture generously provides a truck and loading/unloading help for delivery days, and a bevy of volunteers assemble the beds inside homes.
To learn more about the program or to make a gift, visit YMCAofCoastalGA.org/APlacetoDream.