On most days, Rosie’s Gaming Emporium is alive with people placing their bets and taking their chances on electronic horses racing across their screens. In the off-season, the barns outside the Colonial Downs’ track are empty.
However, on Jan. 18 the barn was filled with the sounds of power saws, drills and volunteers hard at work. Teaming up with Henrico’s Sleeping in Heavenly Peace chapter, a national organization aimed at building beds for children in need, Colonial Downs volunteers were hard at work helping the cause.
Colonial Downs Vice President of Safety and Security and Henrico chapter founder Curtis Marshall spent 27 years working in law enforcement and said it is common to see kids in need of beds. Often, he saw kids sleeping on the floor, on outgrown crib mattresses or sharing a mattress.
“Anyone in law enforcement can tell you about the need for beds for kids in troubled areas,” Marshall said. “When I heard of about this program, I immediately knew it was a perfect way for me to give back to the community.”
Working like an assembly line, tables were lined up in the barn. As one person brought in the freshly cut boards, another got to work sanding them. From there, a volunteer drilled the holes and then they were assembled and stained.
Close to 40 volunteers worked with materials donated by Colonial Downs to build 10 beds that will go to kids in New Kent County, Marshall said.
Beginning in May, Marshall brought his friends and church family together in order to make his dream of starting a chapter a reality. Since then, he has organized five build days.
Marshall’s lifelong friend Caryn Fresco has been involved since day one. Delivering the beds personally to each family, Fresco has seen the happiness it brings to the children and their families.
“Once you see it impact a family, it becomes addicting,” Fresco said. “I’m lucky because I get to see the process beginning to end; with other organizations, you can’t say that.”
The organization does not stop at just building the beds but, it also provides a mattress, sheets and a comforter.
“We make up the beds up for them and we try to make it feel personalized and home for them,” Marshall said. With a sander in hand, Colonial Downs General Manager Stephanie Wisneski was hard at work Saturday helping the other volunteers finish the project. She said Colonial Downs was excited to partner with Sleeping in Heavenly Peace to help the cause.
“We are happy to partner to help the mission to keep kids off the floor, and its a great organization to help,” Wisneski said.
Colonial Downs has donated enough material to build 10 additional beds at a later date.
Emily Holter, firstname.lastname@example.org, 757-256-6657, @EmilyHolterNews.