Is this email not displaying correctly? View it in your browser.
Image description

The Evolution of Up Off the Floor - It’s about Relationships!

Jan Barbee has often said, “greeNest is all about relationships” and she certainly knows. As a co-founder of the organization, Jan has been part of greeNest since 2015, when she and her sister, Joanna Britt, learned that families transitioning from crisis to housing lacked the resources to furnish their new homes. With the help of friends and family, they strategized, researched, and learned everything they needed to build a long-lasting and sustainable organization that could address this need. One of those friends was Beth Smoot, co-founder of The Green Chair Project in Raleigh. The Green Chair Project offers gently used donated furnishings from the community to assist families experiencing a housing crisis. Based on this model, Jan and Joanna built an organization dependent on a volunteer workforce and initially recruited volunteers from their friends, family, and church groups.

In 2016, a year after greeNest began furnishing homes for folks in crisis housing situations, Jan was contacted by a friend who was an ESL teacher. She had a student in need of a bed. At that time, greeNest did not provide mattress sets for families. State regulations prohibit used mattress distribution without costly professional cleaning. The plea from a friend for help and the idea of children sleeping on a cold, hard floor motivated the sisters to find a way to provide beds for children. With support from their community, cold calls to donors, and substantial collective effort, Up Off The Floor was born to provide free beds to children.

Image description

Jan and Joanna connected with Sharon Frazier, the District Family/Community Engagement Program Manager at Winston-Salem Forsyth County Schools. With Sharon’s help, they wrote a grant to The Kate B. Reynolds Foundation to help fund their new program. As a former teacher, Jan knew how important the relationship with the WSFCS was to connect to children sleeping on the floor. They also needed help to track and measure the need and the impact on the children in our community. Sharon’s commitment to children and belief in the program cemented a relationship that continues today.

Thanks to those early relationships, Up Off the Floor has blossomed. As of 2023, Up Off The Floor has provided new beds and bedding to more than 1500 children in our community. What started as a pilot, grant funded project that served only children in Title I Elementary Schools, has grown to include children of all ages, referred by any of greeNest’s 106 partnering agencies and funded by individual donors and local churches in our community who recognize the importance for children of a good night’s sleep.

According to a study by the American Psychological Association, children who get a good night's sleep will do better in school, have fewer behavioral problems, and overall be happier and better adjusted. 1 in 5 children lives in poverty in the US, and children often have to share a bed, sleep on a sofa, or sleep on the floor.

Poor sleep affects children’s grades and academic performance and adversely affects behavior up to two years later. Other effects of poor sleep can include lower immune system function, mood swings, lack of concentration, memory problems, and in some severe cases, hallucinations.

In the seven years since greeNest first started the Up Off the Floor program, two more programs have formed to address the substantial need in our community for children’s beds. Despite the addition of these programs, the requests for beds have increased dramatically. Since we must purchase new beds, the cost of this program is significant. We work hard to build relationships in the community to support this program. We want all children in Forsyth County to be able to snuggle into a safe, warm bed every night.

At this time, greeNest has depleted our Up Off the Floor funds. Without additional revenue, we will run out of beds by the end of June. We receive an average of 50 Up Off the Floor referrals every month, and currently over 100 children are waiting for beds. The cost for one new twin platform bed and mattress averages $160. Please consider donating to our Spring Appeal to help us continue to get children Up Off the Floor and into their very own beds!

"Now I don't have to worry that someone will step on me in the dark."

-greeNest Bed Recipient

Image description
Image description

Carol, the ESL teacher who initially contacted Jan and Joanna for a bed in 2016, emailed them to share about the boy who got the first Up Off the Floor bed. She said he was so happy to have a bed he was crying. Even though she knew the need was substantial, she was relieved to know she could do something about it.

Carol, other school personnel, and our community agencies working with families see the need every day. But for the families who participate in the Up Off the Floor program, who have suffered with unsafe sleeping situations and poor sleep, beds for their children make a tremendous difference for the whole family.

greeNest Asks....Sam Zivin

Image description

Sam Zivin - Social Worker at Old Town Elementary School, Referring Case Manager at greeNest, and greeNest Program Committee Member

How and when did you get involved at greeNest?

I joined the school system in 2017, and I remember hearing about a new non-profit in town that was working with families to help furnish their homes. My wife got a job out of state in 2018, so we moved away for two years, but were fortunate to be able to return in 2020. While I was gone, greeNest really started to blossom. During the 2020-2021 school year, at one of our school social work staff meetings, someone from greeNest came to speak to us about your programming. I started connecting with Loree Armstrong and working with her through the Up Off The Floor program to get beds for the kids and families I work with.

As school social workers, we are tasked with helping to break down barriers that prevent kids from accessing their education. When I think of the low-hanging fruit--the essential things we can work on with our families to help make their lives easier--it’s assisting with food, shelter, security, safety, etc. All those things that fall on the bottom of the pyramid of Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs. It’s hard to focus on anything else until our physiological needs are being met.

For all of us, it’s vital that we have a safe place to sleep. A kid without a bed is not just heartbreaking, but it’s detrimental to their overall well-being. And it certainly impacts their ability to be a productive student day in and day out in the classroom. If I can help get them a bed, that really is a beautiful thing.

What is one of your favorite hobbies?

I enjoy being outside whenever I can. These days I find myself jogging a fair amount for exercise. I don‘t get to do it as much as I want to, but when I can, it helps me unplug and be in the moment. There are so few of those opportunities these days, so if I can take an hour or so to run and be disconnected, that is very valuable time for me

What is one of your favorite ways to ‘nest’ or make your home unique or special?

Having plants! I am the houseplant person in our family. I carefully water and move plants around based on the light and the conditions they need. I think having plants brings a different kind of coziness to the room. I have had some plants for nearly twenty years, I’ve even had to make arrangements to move them across the country.

Do you have a book or movie recommendation related to the greeNest mission?

This may seem like a strange connection, but the first thing that came to mind is the Italian movie, Life is Beautiful. The movie is ostensibly about a father making a concentration camp tolerable for his young son, But it really is about much more than that. It is about the lifting up of the human spirit. And when I think about greeNest, on its face, it’s an organization that helps families furnish their homes. After all, a house is not a home without the furnishings and special things that make it a home. But greeNest is about more than just providing furniture, greeNest lifts the human spirit. Small acts can make tremendous reverberations in a life, and greeNest champions those small acts every day.

Recent greeNest News!

greeNest was the recipient of the 2023 Breaking Barriers Fair Housing Award, in recognition for addressing fair housing opportunities in our community. Watch the full video here!

Image description

Step Up to the Plate Was a Success!!

Thank you to everyone who attended and supported Step Up to the Plate, greeNest's friend-raiser luncheon at Truist Stadium. Thanks to your support, there are now 292 new friends of greeNest, and together we have enough!

    Image description

    Twin Bedding is Always in Need!!

    Restock The Floor!

    For our Finally Home and Up Off the Floor Programs, greeNest is currently in need of the following items:

    Twin Bedding/Comforters/Blankets


    Pots & Pans


    Follow us on Facebook and Instagram for weekly updates on Restock The Floor Needs!


    Helpful Links:

    >List of items we can and cannot accept

    >Donation FAQs - We Pickup!!

    >Flyer for Printing

    Image description

    Open Hours

    Tuesday - Friday 10 am - 4 pm

    Saturday 9 am - 12 pm

    630 Brookstown Avenue

    Winston-Salem, NC 27101



    [email protected]

    Get our newsletters. Subscribe to the Words with Hearts email.

    Working together to transform our community, one nest at a time.

    The mission of greeNest is to provide access to affordable home furnishings to families transitioning from crisis situations into sustainable housing. 

    About UsDonateVolunteer
    If you want to unsubscribe, click here.