My successes. 

If not for John and Russ, we would not have been able to raise almost a $100,000 in our 1st year to put kids in beds and get them off the floor. To date we’ve put nearly 700 children in their own beds. 

What do you do? 

We provide complete, comfortable, and safe beds to children in need in Lorain County, Ohio. We empower families with children by delivering beds and other essential items to powerfully supplement the family’s resources as they rise out of poverty and into self-sufficiency.

What inspired you to start your business? 

Roger founded Good Knights in fall 2020 with first-hand knowledge of what it is like to sleep on the floor. At the age of 11 years old when his mother, siblings, and he moved to Elyria, he slept on the floor for 3 years. In his own words, “Not knowing where I would sleep, on a blanket on the floor or in the closet in a pile of clothes made bed time something I hated.” 

A good night’s sleep is fundamental to good health, good academic performance, and a positive way of living. Too many children in our community have to sleep on cold, hard floors or in other uncomfortable conditions. Our volunteers do their best to help them, with one bed at a time. 

What's special about your business? 

Good Knights is a non-profit, 501(c) (3) organization dedicated to serving low-income families in Lorain County through an empowerment model aiding with dignity.  Beds for children are constructed through a two-step process. ‘Build days’ are made possible through Good Knights sponsors/donors who provide the raw materials for the bed components to be built. ‘Delivery days’ engage the community to further rally volunteers to assist assemble and deliver the beds to families on a separate day. If sufficient funding is secured, recipients may also receive a pillow, sheet set and blankets when their bed is delivered.Strategic partnerships have been established with a number of social service agencies who’s clients need assistance with self-sustainability. Knowledgeable social workers employed by the referring agencies vet and then refer their organization’s clients. Individuals may also apply online through Good Knights website to receive beds.

Keeping all donated funding within Lorain County, the goal is to meet a demand of about 600 beds annually. While the emphasis is beds for children, Good Knights also collaborates with other non-profit organizations, churches, and schools to deliver more services to families in need.

What is your relationship with SCORE? 
SCORE client
What influenced you to seek help from SCORE? 

 I was sitting in front of a Grant review board at a Lorain County foundation when they began asking me questions about my business plan, and how I was going to leverage millennial giving, and a host of different business questions which, to be honest, I had no clue how to answer.   I paused the questioning from the board and told them I did not have any idea what they were talking about.  They said, "If you want us to give you thousands of dollars to build beds for kids, you're going to have to figure this out." 

 The following week I went to a nonprofit summit in downtown Cleveland and saw the SCORE Mentor table. I emailed SCORE believing that any help would be more than what I had. I was contacted by John Sonnhalter who brought in his fellow SCORE volunteer, Russ Hill.  We began discussing the business model I had and relationship I had with the organization I was currently working with.  John and Russ asked me business questions that immediately raised red flags concerning the organization I was with. 

How SCORE helped. 

From John's and Russ' experience in the business world, we began talking about creating a new organization and plan, and moved in a new direction.  In June of 2020 we started our new non-profit, Good Knights of Lorain County.  We continued to work on the business plan, marketing strategies, fundraising and management strategies. In the 1 1/2 years that I've been working with John and Russ, they have become far more than mentors to me they have become friends.   Russ is now our chairman of our board and they continue to not only mentor me on the business aspects of the nonprofit world, but also volunteer their time to help us get children in their own beds.

What's great about my mentor? 

 I look back and see how much of a struggle it would have been, and where those numbers would be, if it were not the help that Russ and John have given us through the SCORE group of volunteers. I can say without question that Good Knights is succeeding because John and Russ were able to take my passion and mission and add the long-term vision and business plan that will sustain Good Knights long after I am gone. A million thanks would not be enough to say how grateful I am for John, Russ and SCORE. 

What advice would you give to someone thinking of starting a small business? 

Don't be afraid to ask for help. Use your passion and mission to create a long-term vision and business plan.