UMC Member Built 60 Beds for Needy Children Last Month: 100 on Wait List
By Lindsay Peyton
Jack Seeley was looking for a new project, when he discovered Sleep in Heavenly Peace, a nonprofit that builds and delivers beds to children who otherwise would not have a place to sleep. Members of his church, First UMC in Beaumont, volunteered to help, and Seeley remodeled a church building to serve as their shop. Now the effort is underway, and there is already a waiting list for 100 beds.
Seeley, owner of Specialized Construction, has been working on commercial and residential projects for as long as he can remember. He even builds in his spare time. When he lived in Houston, he volunteered with Habitat for Humanity.
Now, at age of 74, he admitted that his wife Charlotte wants him to retire. “I’ve got to find something to do,” he remembers thinking.
Seeley is the type who likes to stay busy. He grew up on a farm and always worked. When he learned a friend had started a chapter of Sleep in Heavenly Peace in northwest Houston, his curiosity was sparked.
“I started to research it,” he said. “Of course, I had a million questions. I knew I could build the beds, but I had no idea how people would find out about them.”
He discovered the nonprofit’s history — that it started in a garage in Idaho in 2012, when Luke and Heidi Mickelson learned about children who had to sleep on the floor.
The more Seeley learned about the organization, the more he felt called to join in the effort. Luckily, Charlotte was on board.
“My wife was sold,” Seeley recalled. “She said, ‘This is a great idea. Let’s do it.’”
By January, they were training in Idaho, learning how to build the beds.
First UMC Beaumont also stepped up, offering to rent a building on campus to Seeley at no cost.
Seeley explained that a prior car rental facility was on the church’s property, a two-bay garage with offices. The structure was sitting unused for decades.
Seeley spent December through February remodeling the space. The church also provided the funding to complete the project.
They delivered bed number 60 last month and estimate that they can add about 25 each month.
In March, Seeley invited a few church members to get started. On a couple of practice days, they completed five beds. By the end of the month, they had 17 and delivered them.
The crew met again in April and built 20 beds. They added 25 more in May. They plan to meet again on June 15 and are aiming to complete 30 beds.
“As word spreads, we get more churches and organizations involved,” Seeley said.
More volunteers show up on each build day. Most come from the church but lately a few are also coming form the community and area churches. Seeley hopes to add to the roster – so that more beds can be completed and delivered.
“Some people are afraid that they won’t know how to help, but if you can walk and chew gum, we have something for you,” Seeley said with a laugh. “We’ll even take people with two left thumbs.”
They break the work up into an assembly line of stations – marking wood, cutting, sanding and drilling. Volunteers can even simply transport items between each group.
Upon completion, Seeley brands each bed with a logo for Sleep in Heavenly Peace. He said he’s not one to practice his faith by preaching to others. Instead, he shows by doing and immerses himself in needed work.
“This is how I practice my religion,” he said. “This is how I choose to be religious.”
He hopes Beaumont residents to roll up their sleeves and join him in a heavenly cause.