Gretchen (Trippel) Holley, LCC, Dec ’81, has served in ministry alongside her husband Bill (LCC ’81, LCU ’13) since 1982. They have raised six children, Aaryn, Kiersten (LCU ’11), Samantha (LCU ’13), Jenai, Joshua and Karis, while serving in a variety of ministries, including youth, chaplaincy, church planting and preaching. They are currently in transition from Cedar Rapids, IA to Creve Coeur, IL where Bill is the new preacher.
For several years leading into 2018, Gretchen started considering her “What’s Next?” Her 20+ years of homeschooling their children came to a close as she battled and overcame breast cancer. The youngest would soon be graduating high school. The end of Gretchen’s sixth decade was drawing closer. Then she read Don’t Waste Your Life by John Piper and she sought out ways to minister to meet a need in their community outside the church walls. She considered a variety of volunteer opportunities, but nothing seemed to “flip her switch.”
On the morning of February 12, 2018, Gretchen’s question of “What’s next?” was answered. Being a Mike Rowe fan, (Dirty Jobs, Somebody’s Gotta Do It, S.W.E.A.T Pledge), she watched the newest episode of his Returning the Favor series on Facebook Watch. The “bloody do-gooders” being highlighted that day were being recognized for building and delivering beds for kids who do not have one of their own due to circumstances outside their control. At the end of the 26-minute episode, she knew she had to get involved. She had Bill and the children watch and asked them what they thought. Each one agreed that this was what she should do. Within six weeks Gretchen was in Twin Falls, Idaho to train to be a chapter president with Sleep in Heavenly Peace.
“NO Kid sleeps on the floor in our town” is the motto of Sleep in Heavenly Peace and our goal is that our town is everyone’s town. We are a volunteer driven, donation-based organization that provides beds for children ages 3-17 who are sleeping on the floor, couch, air mattress, or shared mattress with siblings or a parent because they do not have a bed of their own. We hold “Build days” at which volunteers from the community come together to measure, cut, sand, assemble, stain and brand the parts of a wooden bunk bed. Then volunteers deliver and assemble those pieces along with a new mattress, and new bedding including, sheets, a mattress pad, comforter and a pillow to children in need.
Since the establishment of the Cedar Rapids-Marion chapter in April of 2018, we have built over 320 beds and delivered about 250 of them to kids in need in Linn County and still have an ever-growing waiting list of 120 requests. The circumstances and family stories vary, but the response of the children as they receive their bed is identical…. Huge smiles and gratitude.