SWAP Bed Drop at U.S.VETS – Inglewood

This post originally appeared in the Sleep With a Purpose blog.

U.S. VETS in Inglewood Receive Donation
Monday, September 10, 2012

An official bed drop by Sleep With a Purpose [SWAP] delivered 15 beds to U.S. Vets in Inglewood. The August 30 donation was made possible through the efforts of SWAP, which is donating one bed for every bed sold since its Connecticut launch to organizations that help alleviate homelessness.

“We have heard a lot about all of the challenges that the vets have when they come back from combat. From psychological and mental and physical challenges, sometimes they [vets] are just forgotten about when they really need help,” Founder of Sleep with a Purpose Josh Helland said.

“U.S. Mattress is a great organization that really helps these guys and gals transition back into normal living. They help them get medical care, they help them get jobs and help them with housing. One of the big things that folks don’t realize is that someone transitioning out of homelessness, transitional homes or a shelter into a more stable and permanent home, most of those people can’t get beds.”

U.S. VETS is listed as the nation’s largest nonprofit provider of comprehensive services to homeless and at-risk veterans. Established in 1992, U.S.VETS has 11 facilities in six states, as well as in Washington, D.C., and they provide vital services for military veterans such as case management, employment assistance, job placement, counseling, and drug- and alcohol-free housing to more 2,000 veterans each day.

“It is important because they are veterans and gave to the cause by protecting our nation and its citizens,” Inglewood resident Jorge Perez said. “Plus, it [SWAP] shows that there is a great sense of humanity out there and that there are still people out there willing to help.”

The beds donated by SWAP will be given to veterans preparing to live independently in the community and transitioning in to permanent housing, through services provided by the U.S. VETS. SWAP is a for-profit company fully steeped in nonprofit ideals. Founder Helland describes himself as an entrepreneur by trade, but has never overlooked the social impact his company can have–so he designed SWAP to help reduce chronic homelessness throughout the United States and, eventually, the world. Through the use of the “one-for-one” sales model, SWAP is able to supply brand new beds, along with bedding accessories, to different projects and organizations that support the fight against homelessness, all while creating high-quality bed and bedding products for customers nationwide.

“We want to donate as many beds as we can, so we are getting the word out by setting up nontraditional partnerships with groups that have a lot of potential clients,” Helland said. “We would love to get into local retailers here in L.A. to help push forward the initiative. We don’t have a number goal since it is too hard tell what we are going to end up with before the end of the year, but our goal is to sell as many as we can so we can give that many more away.”

Living in Los Angeles County, which is known for its high rates of homelessness, Helland believed that he could make a difference in his own community. In 2010, he and his friend Jennifer Kenning launched a non-profit organization called A Good Night Sleep (AGNS) to curb the homelessness epidemic by delivering brand new beds to people making the transition from homelessness to permanent supportive housing.

Inspired in part by the philanthropic success made by TOMS Shoes, Helland decided to create SWAP and earlier this year their efforts went into full swing.

“We really wanted to give away more mattresses. There wasn’t really a company that was targeting the kind of mattress model and so we decided to launch the company,” Helland said. “We are a for-profit company, but for every bed that we sell we will donate one to someone in need–so if anybody is looking for a new bed, we would love to be their first choice. If they are looking to just make a donation, we have another nonprofit that takes donations as well.”

A report published by the National Alliance to End Homelessness (NAEH) from 20092011 indicated that chronic homelessness in the United States has decreased by three percent, and it linked the decrease with an increase in the availability of supportive housing beds. “We are happy to help. Permanent and sustainable housing has been the only proven sustainable solution to help alleviate and eventually end homelessness,” Helland said. “There have been business case studies and other case studies on how lack of sleep affects the psychology and the health of a person. That is kind of why we chose that as our big initiative. As we are tackling this need, we are not against working with transitional and emergency shelter and their needs.”

Helland conclude, “A lot of these guys and gals really need a good night’s sleep. I know how I operate on little or no sleep or even uncomfortable sleep. I can’t imagine if that was the norm. A lot of these people are sleeping on couches, if not on the floor. They deserve to have a bed.”

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