A scene of a social worker going into a home to conduct a wellness check of a single mom has always stuck with Williams Lake resident Barb Charboneau, who is now collecting and delivering beds for the needy.
Charboneau watched the documentary during an online social work course through Thompson Rivers University in Kamloops several years ago and did not forget one particular moment.
“She [social worker] went and toured the house, and what stood out to me was in the children’s room there were few toys, but worse than that there were little sheets, pillows and blankets on the floor,” Charboneau said of the makeshift beds.
“They were literally on the ground, and that stayed with me because it was something that never occurred to me that somebody would be without a bed.”
Charboneau said she realized that very situation was likely occurring within her community, which became all too real when she recently listed a queen-size foam mattress on Facebook’s Marketplace.
She had an excellent response to her ad, and quickly found a buyer.
“When I delivered it, I asked her if she was going to use it as a bed or as a spare, and she said it was for her and she told me about her circumstance, so I just gave her the bed,” Charboneau said. “That just sort of cemented my thought that there’s a need for this.”
Charboneau jumped on Facebook posting ads asking anyone in need of a bed for either themselves or someone they knew, as well as anyone getting rid of used mattresses that are in good, clean condition.
Within 24 hours, Charboneau received 17 responses from individuals in need of a bed, five of which she has been able to secure a mattress.
As Charboneau picks up unwanted mattresses and delivers them to those in need across the region one at a time, she is torn between happiness by the community’s support and sadness by the real local need.
“I’ve never been without a bed, and I’m gobsmacked that this is happening,” she said, noting sleep has been scientifically linked to one’s mental and physical well-being.
“A lot of these people have other struggles, and I think having a bed to sleep in would be one step in the right direction toward a better life, and it’s something that hopefully I can do,” she said.
For further information about The Bed Project, Charboneau can be reached by Facebook or e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.