Earlier this week the Leesa team had the privilege of visiting the Bowery Mission to donate more than 300 Leesa mattresses to the historic, results-oriented NYC shelter.
In the last month alone, the Bowery Mission provided 30,000 meals and a collective 9,000 nights of sleep to people in need in four locations around NYC. The Bowery is currently wrapping up a two-year renovation of its men’s facility, and the shelter will use the Leesa mattresses to provide a better place to sleep for hundreds of people in need. Previously, some at the shelter were sleeping on mats.
On Wednesday morning the Leesa team arrived with a truckload of mattresses, which were unloaded with help from the shelter’s incredible staff and some of the people staying there, and moved to the newly-renovated 4th floor, home to the Mission’s new men’s program. The program will house 30 men for 21-day periods in which they’ll receive necessities and support, including help creating a plan for after their stay at the shelter ends. The goal is to help the men feel a sense of dignity as they’re getting back on their feet. On the day we were there, two men actually signed up for the program after noticing all the activity on the street.
The mattress donation is part of Leesa’s One-Ten program, where we donate one mattress for every ten purchased. For the Bowery Mission, the donation means the shelter will be able to allocate resources it would have used to purchase mattresses on other services it provides, including its youth program, which in 2014 provided more than 1,000 at-risk youth with mentoring, scholarships, and family support.
After unpacking the mattresses, everyone gathered in a meeting room to hear from David P. Jones, CEO of the Bowery Mission. Jones spoke poignantly about how he used to be an accountant, but now he works with “the ultimate balance sheet: the balance sheet of people’s lives.” He described the shelter’s mission and commitment to the idea that every human being deserves to be treated with dignity. As part of its philosophy, the Mission tries to “meet people where they are,” not to force change on them.
We also heard from Wilmon, a recovering drug addict who turned his life around with help from the Mission. Wilmon went through the shelter’s residential recovery program and earned his commercial driver’s license, and now he’s part of the Mission’s staff.
After the talks, the Leesa team helped serve lunch. Co-founder of Leesa Jamie Diamonstein especially loved this part, donning his hair net proudly as he served sandwiches, pasta salad and lemonade and entertained everyone in line. The Mission’s commitment to helping people retain a sense of dignity and self-worth was evident; signs posted in several places reminded us to “Serve like you are serving a king.”
Three times a day, 365 days a year, the shelter serves meals like this for anyone who shows up. After learning that the Mission relies exclusively on volunteers to serve food, Sophie Wolfe, head of Leesa’s One-Ten program, decided to set up some community service in Leesa’s hometown of Virginia Beach so we can volunteer to serve at a local food bank once a month. We were so inspired by the Bowery Mission’s staff and their commitment to helping people turn their lives around, we feel like volunteering at home is the least we can do.
One part of the day the Leesa team enjoyed was talking to the shelter’s staff. We learned that many of the people who work at the Mission started out as participants in some of its programs. They keep an inspiring record of these stories of hope on
the Bowery Mission’s website.
The Bowery Mission has an incredible purpose and effect on the community around them. They help thousands of people every year in ways small and large, from free meals to guidance on how to set up a productive, purposeful way to live after life has taken some rough turns. The love they have for the people they help is evident in everything they do.
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