Southold volunteers gather to build 20 beds for kids in need

Last fall, John Succoso was reading a real estate magazine his wife, Cindy, gave him and noticed a story about a group called Sleep in Heavenly Peace. Its motto was straightforward: “No kid sleeps on the floor in our town!”

Mr. Succoso read more about the group and learned it began in 2012 in Idaho and had branches around the country. There were none on Long Island. That is, until he started one.

Sleep in Heavenly Peace is an all-volunteer organization with one purpose: to build children’s beds, bunk beds and single beds, and get them to families who need them. The volunteers acquire the wood, build the beds and — along with mattresses, sheets, blankets and pillows — get them to children.

“When I saw the story, I knew I wanted to get involved,” Mr. Succoso said. “I wanted to give back.”

On a recent afternoon, Mr. Succoso, the local branch president, sat in a diner along with his wife and Southold jeweler Roger Satnick, who is the group’s fundraising manager. Ms. Succoso handles social media and marketing.

“It is amazing how getting a child in need a bed, with everything included, can be so life changing and can really help that child in every way,” Ms. Succoso said. 

“The kits are assembled and along with everything else will go to the houses that need them and be fully assembled on the spot,” Mr. Satnick said. “It’s all brand-new. It’s truly wonderful.”

In keeping with its core mission, Southold Rotary is deeply involved with the group. Longtime Rotarian Walter Krupski said club members will join forces with volunteers from Sleep in Heavenly Peace on Saturday, May 18 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the American Legion Hall in Southold for what the group calls the first “build” of 20 beds.

“Each year, Rotary International selects a day where its clubs and club members select a community project in which to participate in a ‘hands on’ way,” Mr. Krupski said.  “The Rotary Club of Southold has selected to participate in SIHP’s first build …  About 18 members of our club, under the leadership of our president, Emily Franchina, in addition to other volunteers, will participate in this build. The public is more than welcome to come down to see us in action.”

As Mr. Succoso explained it at the diner, this first build is 20 beds, but much more will be done as the group moves forward. This is just the start. And, he and the others added, requests are already coming in for the new beds even without widespread publicity.

“We know there is a need,” said Mr. Satnick. Ms. Succoso concurred: “We think the need will be great.”

The construction will take place on the lawn on the east side of the Legion Hall  by the flagpole and adjacent to the Civil War Monument that faces Main Road. Long tables will be set up as beds are assembled into easier to carry kits, which will then be delivered to families.

All three said there are no “typical” families with children who need beds, but they expect requests from single-parent households and families who have lost a place to live due to rising rents.

Southold Supervisor Al Krupski — who is related to Walter if you trace  back a few generations —  said in an interview that he has told the group they are welcome to use the town-owned Peconic Recreation Center if Saturday brings rain.

“They can certainly have the rec center if it’s needed,” he said, adding that he heard about the group through Rotary, which he characterized as a “wonderful organization.”

“This is a lovely thing to do,” the supervisor said. “It’s a wonderful thing to help each other. Small acts of kindness add up. It’s wonderful.”