WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. — A program in the Triad is helping more students get a good night's sleep by giving them free mattresses and pillows. And one social worker is going the extra mile to help make that happen.
Sam Zivins is a social worker inside the Forsyth County School System. He used to be a teacher and strongly believes all students need access to education.
“But in order to do that right, kids have to come to school. Kids have to be secure at their house. They have to have enough food, they have to be emotionally secure. And I think being a school social worker works with all those different components in order to make sure the kids can get what they need from school,” Zivins said.
Zivins writes referrals for his students to get free beds and even delivers them sometimes.
“If I need to do a delivery, I try and do it at the end of the day. I can schedule a time to get down there and get back to a family. And it’s a good part of my job I have to say,” Zivins said.
The beds come through a program called “Up Off The Floor.” The program was started from the two co-founders of the nonprofit GreeNest in Winston-Salem because they saw a need.
Teachers at a title-one school can refer students to the social workers when struggles at home spill over into the classroom.
“[There is] immediate satisifaction ... [because] you are taking a situation that is truly undesirable, and sometimes really tragic, and turning it around in a few days and bring total joy to kids and parents,” Zivins said. “You’re making a real tangible impact right away, and it’s good to feel that because there are a lot of things that we do, but we don’t see the fruits of our labor.”
The program manager at GreeNest, Loree Armstrong, said the teachers see the impacts firsthand.
“The teachers has noticed better behavior in school, better school work, because the children feel more rested, and it’s a safe place for them to not only sleep but in a space that’s theirs where they can have their quite time do their homework. It’s their own. They don’t have to share with anybody,” Armstrong said.
The program has given out more than 600 beds since it was founded in 2017.