Aqua Ohio Employee Steps Up To Help Those in Need

Aqua Ohio Employee Steps Up

Aqua Ohio employees volunteer with Sleep in Heavenly Peace, an organization dedicated to building, assembling and delivering beds fully equipped with mattresses, sheets, pillows and blankets.

On the way out to his car, Travis Leonard realized his clothes were covered in dog fur, but he didn’t have time to change. He grabbed an extra bath towel he had lying around to place on his seat for protection.

Travis, an employee with Aqua in the Struthers, Ohio division, was on his way to help deliver a bed he built as an involved volunteer with Sleep in Heavenly Peace, an organization dedicated to building, assembling and delivering beds fully equipped with mattresses, sheets, pillows and blankets to children and families in need.

While delivering this particular bed, Travis met a little boy who lived with his aunt and uncle. This boy had never had his own bed before. From the time he was a baby, he slept on the floor next to the sofa where his mom dealing with cancer slept. After his mom passed, he could no longer continue to sleep on the floor.

He was so excited about his bed, he wanted to help Travis from start to finish. When Travis handed him a bag with some additional essentials, the boy stopped in his tracks and pulled out a bath towel. After fixating on it for a few seconds, he smiled and explained that he had never owned a towel before.

Leaving the little boy with his new bed and bath towel, Travis couldn’t help but think about the extra towel he hastily grabbed that morning. Growing up, he didn’t always have everything he needed, but he always slept in a warm bed and could dry himself off after a bath. As an adult, he realized he was fortunate enough to have not only extra towels laying around but also extra beds in his house where his guests and dogs could sleep. So, when Travis found Sleep in Heavenly Peace, he jumped at the opportunity to become involved in such a hands-on and meaningful way.

Passionate about his work building beds and helping children and families in need, Travis shared his involvement with the organization with his Aqua coworkers. His area manager, Jennifer Johnson, who was inspired by Travis’ stories but had never heard about the organization before, found out the city council and the mayor were fundraising for the cause. Unfortunately, they were short on funds for the last six beds they needed to build.

That’s when Travis and Jennifer committed Aqua to help with the project, inviting Aqua employees to volunteer their time and talent to build the remaining beds needed. Aqua also donated the $1500 needed to purchase all materials – from wood to bedding – to build and outfit the remaining beds.

Seven Aqua employees from the 26-person operation showed up on a cold Saturday morning and got to work. They came together, not as employees and supervisors, but as people giving back to their community.

There are many charitable organizations that help families in need with groceries and clothing, but few that provide something as basic as a bed. The beds Travis and his team built are more than just a place for children to sleep. They provide children with the support needed to focus on being children and the adults with the peace of mind they need to care for them. Studies have shown that kids who regularly get an adequate amount of sleep have improved attention, behavior, learning, memory and overall mental and physical health. Beds also provide a place to dream and envision a future.

Travis says he has never worked at a place where his coworkers and the leadership are not only quick to support him in his volunteer efforts but also get involved in actively giving back to the community with him.

Aqua is passionate about supporting our local communities through many different ways. As a utility, we make a long-term investment in the well-being of the areas we serve. When employees are passionate about giving back to these communities, Aqua is excited to support them. It’s a win-win situation for all.

With support from his coworkers and Aqua, Travis hopes to inspire employees in other states to come together and build beds for children in their own communities, so they too can Sleep in Heavenly Peace.