Roger Dorsey remembers three years of sleeping in a closet on a pile of clothing in his Aunt’s Elyria home, where he and his brother, two sisters and mother stayed for some time after she fled domestic violence. He usually told himself, “I’m camping out in the closet and will make do,” says the pastor of Oak Grove Missionary Baptist Church in Amherst.

Now, thanks to the efforts of Dorsey, community sponsors and a cast of about 4,000 volunteers annually, there are 4,500 children in Lorain County that tuck into a comfortable bed with a mattress, linens, a pillow and safety rail.

Dorsey is founder of Good Knights, a nonprofit organization dedicated to serving low-income families in Lorain County by building and delivering beds to families with children who are in need.

An estimated 6,000 to 9,000 children in Lorain County go to sleep at night without a bed, based on data the national nonprofit gathered estimating 2% to 3% of kids ages 3 to 18 lack a proper place to sleep. Lorain County is home to three of the state’s most financially vulnerable cities: Oberlin, Lorain and Elyria.

The first two years, Dorsey and floods of volunteers built and delivered more than 2,000 beds.

Wanting to maintain local funding, in 2020, Dorsey decided to start his own nonprofit, Good Knights. “We started over with a box of screws,” he says.

Multifab Precision Sheet Metal in Elyria donates the beds’ metal side rails and has provided more than 2,500 sets. “They designed them for us, acquire the steel and produce them — and the only thing they make with that steel is our rails,” Dorsey says.

Before Good Knights’ first build, Dorsey went to Lowe’s in Elyria for supplies. He told a store manager why he was there. “She said, ‘Go get what you need,’ and I put about $6,000 of tools in the cart, and they have supplied lumber for 50 beds each year for the past three years,” he relates.


Life-Changing Impact

The second Tuesday of every month is Build Day at Good Knights’ headquarters. Third Saturdays are delivery days. Last year, about
4,000 volunteers logged 8,300
hours collectively.

There are jobs for everyone of all ages. “We’ve had folks show up at our shop from ages 5 to 95,” he says.

After Saturday deliveries, Good Knights always receives a few dozen more bed requests. “Word of mouth passes,” Dorsey says. The group averages 80 to 100 bed builds and deliveries per month, designed for children ages 3 to 18.

The bed design is simple — and its impact is life-changing. The outreach is tremendous.

Dorsey knew there was a need. “But it wasn’t until we got deep into it that we realized we are constantly going to have 75 to 100 kids waiting for a bed,” he says.

Good Knights launched a capital campaign to raise funds for a $750,000 facility to expand capacity and is collaborating with the City of Elyria, its mayor’s office and Elyria Community Development.

Dorsey says he is humbled by the generosity of so many nonprofits, corporations and families who have helped. As for the rolling demand and capacity, Dorsey says, “I’m still trying to wrap my head around it.”