STEVENS POINT, Wis. (WSAU) - A Stevens Point woman’s passion for helping children has led her on an unusual path to helping hundreds of youngsters in need.
Jamie Valeri is Mrs. Wisconsin America 2013. Valeri and her husband operate Today’s Furniture Advantage stores in Stevens Point and Appleton.
Four years ago, Valeri met a family that changed everything. “Back in 2009, I met a family that could not provide beds for their children and I called social services. The lady on the other line told me there will never be enough beds for children.”
That’s when she came up with the Silent Night program, where their stores would donate beds to families who need a safe and comfortable place to sleep. Valeri says she wanted to spread the program to the rest of the state, and that’s why she entered the Mrs. Wisconsin America pageant with absolutely no pageant experience. “I wanted to implement this program throughout my state, and going to other furniture stores as a competitor, they closed the door, but when I went as Mrs. Wisconsin, not only did the doors open but they implemented this program in their stores. Now we have furniture stores across the state of Wisconsin that every month, they give a certain number of beds to their county’s social services.”
Mrs. Valeri is hoping to publicize Silent Night nationwide. “As Mrs. Wisconsin, it was an opportunity to take this program to a national level. I’ll be competing in the Mrs. America pageant in about four weeks. August 28th is finals in Arizona, and the opportunity to be Mrs. America would make it possible for not only children in Wisconsin, but for children in every state to have a safe place to sleep.”
Valeri says the need is always there, and it has occasionally been a challenge for their business to keep up. “I know just in our furniture stores in Appleton and Stevens Point, we used to put a cap on it. It was, for how many beds we sold, we would donate so many beds per month. The problem is, the need is great. When we get those phone calls from social services, you can’t say no. It’s so hard, especially as a mom knowing and hearing the stories.” Valeri has six small children of her own.
Now, the family business has began working with the Family Crisis Center in Stevens Point. One mother of seven, who we will keep anonymous, is extremely grateful for the help as she starts over in life. “Seven kids, you know, all of those beds. That’s a lot and I really appreciate it. It’s a real blessing, and not only that, it will be nice to know that not only did they help me but it’s also going to help other families that are struggling.”
If you or someone you know is having a tough time making ends meet and beds are needed for the family, contact your county’s Department of Social Services to find out more about the Silent Night program.
Valeri will be competing for Mrs. America in Arizona August 28th.