Written by Stamps Scholar Rachael Wennermark
In their second annual bed build with Sleep In Heavenly Peace, a national organization dedicated to providing beds for children in need, Stamps Scholars in the Virginia Tech Honors College helped the New River Valley (NRV) achieve one of its biggest builds yet. Through partnering with 13 other organizations across the NRV, the Stamps Scholars helped to build 70 beds for local children.
Child bedlessness is a national problem, and as a national nonprofit with chapters spread across the country, Sleep In Heavenly Peace has the solution. In the NRV, over 20 children are on the waiting list to receive a bed, and some live fewer than five miles from the Virginia Tech campus. First-year Stamps Scholar Rupabali Samata, who has lived in the NRV for over six years, described the experience as “eye-opening.”
“I’ve learned that there’s a significant population in the NRV community that doesn’t have access to basic things, like a bed, which I didn’t realize,” Rupabali said.
Addison Glozer, another first-year student in the program, said being a Stamps Scholar means to “give back.” Glozer and many of the scholars said this project was one of the best volunteering experiences they have ever had. The work is hands-on, rewarding, and makes a significant difference to the community.
The Stamps Scholars are a group of students supported by the Virginia Tech Honors College and the Strive Foundation with a four-year scholarship. Christina McIntyre, the director of professional development and national and international scholarships and head of the Stamps program at the Virginia Tech Honors College, said what the Honors College looks for in Stamps Scholars is “not only strong academics, but … people who care about their community.” McIntyre said service is central to the program. “I want there to be a sense of stewardship,” she said.
“Being a Stamps Scholar means that I have a really strong support system to pursue any of my goals for college and beyond,” said Ashley Barlow, a senior in the program. “College students take a lot from this area, and it’s important to give back in any way that we can because there’s a lot more to Blacksburg than just Virginia Tech.”
This Sleep In Heavenly Peace bed build had the most organizations come together to complete a build in the NRV.
Build participants included the Virginia Tech Stamps Scholars, the Virginia Tech Army ROTC Rangers, the Virginia Tech Corps of Cadets Lima Company and Cadets for a Cause, the Virginia Tech Edward Via College of Osteopathic Medicine, the Virginia Tech Kappa Delta Rho Fraternity, the Virginia Tech G.E.R.M.A.N Club, the Radford University Army ROTC, the Radford University Catholic Community, Colley Architects, the NRV Church, Blacksburg Ablaze Church, Auburn Middle School, and Fresh and Clean LLC.
“I’m just continually amazed by the willingness of our community and the Virginia Tech students to help with our mission,” said Paul Mele, NRV chapter president of Sleep In Heavenly Peace.