Club provides new beds to Iredell County children in need

Isaac Fortich received a new bed this week to replace a nearly 10-year-old one whose box spring was falling apart.

But it was the blue comforter with the images of baseballs, baseball bats and basketballs that really wowed the 5-year-old in his second-floor bedroom in his family’s Piedmont Pointe apartment. “Plus I got two pillows,” he said.

His parents, Shawn and Penelope Fortich, have tried unsuccessfully to find work since moving to Mooresville three months ago. The family moved from Texas and lived in Huntersville for about a year.

“We thought it’d be better luck finding a job here,” Shawn Fortich said. He now hopes to start a bakery, but until he does, there’s no way the family could have afforded a new bed for their son. They also have two young daughters.

The new bed and bedding came compliments of the Mooresville Rotary Club’s new Beds for Children project. The 18-member club was founded in the early 1920s and meets every Tuesday morning.

Since launching the effort in January, club members have delivered new beds to nine Mooresville and Statesville families. With about three-fourths of the $5,000 that’s dedicated to the effort still unspent, they expect to help many more.

The club found that children in some cases were sleeping four to a bed, or with grandparents, or in sleeping bags on the floor.

“It’s just hard to believe,” club President Brenda Hawkins said.

Hawkins brainstormed the idea after an assistant at the speech therapy practice that Hawkins founded, Mooresville-based SpeakAbility Inc., came across a 3-year-old on a home visit last year who had no bed.

Hawkins bought a new bed and bedding for the child, while Maggie Valyo, the speech therapy assistant, bought the mattress and box spring.

The Rotary club – Mooresville’s oldest – agreed to donate $2,500 for more beds for children in need in Iredell County, and the local Opal Jones Fund matched the amount.

Hawkins learned of other families in need by distributing fliers to various service agencies in the county and to Barbara Johnson, who directs Mooresville’s Winnie L. Hooper Center, which serves youth from primarily economically disadvantaged families.

Brawley Furniture in Mooresville sells the mattresses, box springs and frames at cost to the club. Hawkins buys the bedding at the local Big Lots and Super Wal-Mart. The club has spent $1,200 so far.

On Wednesday afternoon, Hawkins showed up at the Fortich’s apartment with fellow club members Jimmy McLean and Hawkins’s husband, Rich. The men carried the bed up the stairs.

Then they were off to Rochelle Green’s apartment in Piedmont Pointe to tell her they would deliver a new bed for her son, Ziyus, 4, the next day. Ziyus immediately wrapped himself in the blue boys’ comforter Rich and Brenda Hawkins brought along.

Ziyus has been sleeping in a toddler’s bed that has a bent frame.

Rochelle Green, 31, has been on disability since injuring her back at work two years ago.

“It’s absolutely a blessing, it really is,” she told the couple of the new bed for her son. “You don’t know how much I appreciate it.”