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2012 Archives

Never taking a good night’s sleep for granted

Alumni help provide beds to those in need


The following first appeared in the spring/summer 2012 edition of the SMU Magazine.

August 29, 2012

A scene in the movie “The Blind Side” inspired SMU alumna Jennifer Kenning ’01 to found A Good Night Sleep, a nonprofit organization that partners with charities to provide bed and bedding to those in need.

Jennifer Kenning and Josh Helland
Josh Helland ’00 and Jennifer Kenning ’01 are shown
with mattresses donated to provide beds to those in need.

In the 2009 movie about the early life of NFL offensive lineman Michael Oher, whose impoverished circumstances changed when he was adopted, his character is shown reacting to the first bed he has ever had. That touching and powerful moment stuck with Kenning.

“I couldn’t imagine not having a bed to sleep in at night,” says Kenning, a wealth management director for Aspiriant in Los Angeles. “It made me realize how much I take for granted.”

While her initial intention was to write a check to a charity that provides beds to the needy, she discovered “there was not a single organization with that sole purpose.”

In fall 2010, Kenning filled that gap by founding A Good Night Sleep (AGNS). The nonprofit organization partners with charitable groups to provide beds and bedding 
to the homeless and others in need as they transition into permanent housing. She serves as chair of AGNS, and fellow Mustang Josh Helland ’00 is executive director.

During Homecoming weekend last year, Kenning and Helland organized the first Dallas “bed drop,” during which beds and basic household items were provided for 120 people moving from homeless shelters to apartments. Among the local partners was the mattress retailer Sleep Experts, owned by Chris ’91 and Christine Cook ’91.

“We plan to do another bed drop in Dallas and are very interested in working with SMU student groups,” says Kenning.

To date, A Good Night Sleep has provided 504 beds and bedding in Dallas, Los Angeles, San Francisco and Managua, Nicaragua, with a commitment to distribute another 123 beds in 2012.

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