Compass Sleep Products is focusing on creating brighter futures for foster children. The company has created a new program in partnership with Twin Oaks Juvenile Development Inc. that trains participants in the mattress-making process.
Created four months ago, the program provides participants with new skills, a renewed sense of confidence, and financial support to get them started comfortably as they enter their adult lives, according to a news release.
“Our corporate mission has always been to help the community wherever and whenever we can,” said Compass Sleep Products CEO Ricky Riley. “We are located in Madison County, an economically depressed area with both children and families struggling. There were a lot of unknowns when Twin Oaks approached me with this idea because, to my knowledge, a program like this hadn’t existed before.
“We weren’t sure how the kids would respond to our invitation, nor were we certain how it would affect our current team at the plant. Four months into the program, I can say with complete certainty that the kids, and my team, are benefitting greatly and learning a great deal from each other.”
The program employs seven 16- and 17-year-olds, who worked alongside Compass employees for 12 to 15 hours per week. They learned how to run a roll-packing machine, build mattress foundations and load delivery trucks.
“Many kids in the program have similar stories,” Riley said. “They would act out because they, unfortunately, never received one-on-one attention. Through the work they do at Compass, we are all able to spend time with the teens and build their skill set. The kids go home with a sense of gratification and purpose.”
The program is built into the students’ academic curricula as a hands-on class where they receive school credit. Additionally, Greenville, Florida-based Compass pays them a salary above minimum wage. The money is deposited into trust accounts managed by the state and are then turned over to the children when they turn 18 and age out of the foster care system. Riley said the goal of the funds is to give the students a nest egg to begin their new lives when they transition out of the state custody system.
“The program Compass Sleep has created for these teenagers is really amazing,” said Donnie Read, chairman and CEO of Twin Oaks Juvenile Development Inc. “They have taken young adults with no business or skills training and taught them a trade. The mattress industry is growing and there are many employment opportunities for them when they leave the program, either in sleep products or other manufacturing industries who use similar processes and equipment. I am proud of the work of Compass and the young adults who are taking part in this program.”