You could say sleep is a big part of Larry Heilers’ life. As owner and CEO of Texan Mattress, a mattress retail chain based in Houston, TX, his priority is to offer customers quality affordable mattresses. Heilers believes that a healthy day begins with a good night’s sleep. But he recognizes that a peaceful slumber isn’t guaranteed for everyone.
“There are definitely people in our community who don’t have their own place to sleep,” he says. “I might see anywhere from 16 to 20 people sleeping in the highway underpass on my way to work every day.”
When Heilers learned that one of his retail partners was participating in a social media challenge to raise awareness about family homelessness, he decided it was the perfect opportunity to get his own employees involved in the cause. Heilers and 16 employees followed suit and slept outdoors on June 26 as part of Family Promise’s Night Without A Bed campaign.
“It was hot – 95 degrees – and we were sleeping on cardboard on the concrete,” he explains. “Not exactly comfortable!”
Employees from all eight of Texan Mattress’ stores participated in the sleepout, staying in touch via video calls during the night. Their efforts raised close to $110,000 for families in need. Heilers says the event helped his staff better understand the crisis through a show of solidarity with those who don’t have a place to call home.
“Night Without A Bed really drove the point home for us and has inspired us to do more. People need to understand this issue,” he says.
Since that night, Texan Mattress set a goal to enlist at least 300 participants for next year’s sleepout. For now, the company has committed to donating 50 mattresses a month to local organizations that offer shelter services to those in need. In addition, every mattress purchased at Texan Mattress comes with a “gratitude bead” that explains the cause to customers, further raising awareness of the issue.
The company isn’t a stranger to community service. They regularly partner with local charities, and four of its stores provide food to the homeless population in their communities weekly. Heilers looks forward to making an even greater impact next year.
He says, “As I tell my kids all the time, one day can change a family’s life drastically. If we can help others, we can help make people’s lives better.”