By Heather Bennett
A Bed 4 Me Foundation is a nonprofit organization that provides beds for children ages 2-18 from low to middle income families on the Emerald Coast . The basis for the foundation started in 2016. Diane Freeman, Executive Director of A Bed 4 Me Foundation, was inspired by the story of an 18-year-old woman who started a nonprofit after watching “The Blind Side,” where Michael Oher was seeing his room at the Tuohy home for the first time, where he had a bed of his own for the first time. Diane called the young woman to partner with her and start a chapter in Okaloosa County. “We thought it was a necessary mission,” stated Diane.
In 2018, Diane felt they weren’t able to move as quickly as she had hoped, and decided to dissolve the chapter into its own nonprofit. In January 2018, A Bed 4 Me Foundation was started, carrying on the mission of providing beds for children. “We knew at that time that there was a need for beds in our community. We knew there were plenty of children that were not sleeping in beds of their own. They were sleeping on the floor, air mattresses, couches, or paired up with parents and/or siblings,” said Diane. This March, they delivered their 1,000th bed.
Diane and the foundation are grateful for the community helping them succeed along their journey. “There’s no possible way we could have done this without this community and people getting involved,” said Diane. “We feel really blessed. We feel really grateful that people believed in us, supported us, and dreamed with us. We just hope that everybody keeps dreaming with us so we can get children into beds of their own.
A Bed 4 Me Foundation finds families in need through social service agencies, schools, church organizations and also word of mouth. It’s an anonymous process, and families don’t have to be involved with a social service agency to receive assistance from them. “We’re not going in [their home] to judge them. We go in to only evaluate the space, evaluate the need, and make sure we are providing where we should be providing,” stated Diane.
Many of the families the foundation assists are working families that are just not able to make ends meet. Diane stated that the average cost of a brand new twin bed is $400. “That’s not feasible for families living at the poverty level.” Although the Emerald Coast is a thriving area, the poverty level in Okaloosa has staggering high numbers. “They’re larger than anybody expects,” said Diane.
Right now A Bed 4 Me Foundation is just providing beds for those in Okaloosa County. They hope to expand in the future, but don’t want to rush growth when there is so much need so close to home. “We want to make sure to take care of the need right here in Okaloosa County before we branch off into a neighboring county,” said Diane.
This year they are hosting their 4th annual Dinner of Dreams fundraiser. Diane describes it as an outdoor culinary experience unlike any other. Held at 3rd Planet Brewery, guests will sit at one large dining table, long enough to accommodate over 100 people, where they will be served a 4-course meal prepared by several local restaurants. There is wine tasting, an auction and live jazz performed by the Roman Street Trio from Mobile, Alabama. It’s a way for them to share their mission with a fellowship concept that “everyone is at the same table.”
If you are interested in learning more about A Bed 4 Me Foundation, donating or would like to purchase tickets to the Dinner of Dreams, visit their Website at www.abed4me.org.
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