Room dividers aren’t just for Sunday school anymoreFACILITIES, Operations Monday, June 1st, 2009
Among their many uses, portable partitions can be used to help shelter people in the greatest time of need.
By Rich Maas
In the early 1990s church administrators sought to find better, faster, easier ways to make Sunday school classrooms in their open multipurpose rooms. They found the answer in a new line of portable room dividers. These partitions are versatile, easy to use, sound absorbing and can be rolled anywhere needed on ball bearing, self leveling casters. While these are great for Sunday school, the uses for this unique line of products has expanded beyond its original intent.
Many churches are members of their community based Public Action to Deliver Shelter (P.A.D.S.) organizations. Dozens of homeless men, women and children move from one church to another on a scheduled basis to seek shelter. Obviously these people need some privacy for each different group of individuals. Room dividers allow the church staff to create separate Sunday school classrooms during the weekend and also private areas for the local community P.A.D.S. guests during the evening.
In addition, we all know unfortunate natural disasters can strike any part of our country at any time. Each year many homes are destroyed by tornadoes, hurricanes, floods, fires and occasionally an earthquake. Often those families who lose their homes as a result of these tragic events can find shelter with close relatives or friends, but sometimes they can’t. Thankfully the local churches which were not affected by the tragedy open their doors to these people until a more permanent solution is found.
Versatility is invaluable
In these situations the number and gender of people staying at the church can change on a daily basis. This is where the versatility of portable room dividers becomes invaluable. Depending on the size of the area needed each night, the dividers can be easily moved to create the exact size rooms that are needed.
The room sizes can be made larger or smaller as needed depending on if there are more people coming or going to and from the church during their stay. During the day the dividers can be easily folded and rolled to another part of the church where they are expanded once again to create separate areas for child care programs or other important ministries.
One of the most important features of room dividers for church administrators is their stability. Stability comes from the combination of having most of the weight in the end frame close to the floor so it is not top heavy, and by having end frames which are from 27 to 29.5 inches wide. End frames which are narrower don’t provide the stability desired in popular heights/lengths and wider end frames become cumbersome.
Another useful feature is the sound absorbing qualities of some dividers. These dividers are helpful in situations where combined conversations of each group are can be minimized to background noise.
Additional uses for room dividers are not limited to community bases P.A.D.S. programs or natural disasters. Some generous church leaders open their church doors to community based senior citizen groups for programs on a weekly or monthly basis. The dividers are rolled into position to create areas for playing cards, sewing, or discussion groups.
At the other end of the spectrum from the senior citizen groups, is a combination of community based youth groups. Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts, Awana and others are all community based programs which often find a home in a local church. These groups all make excellent use of room dividers for their varied activities.
Rich Maas is vice president of Screenflex Portable Room Dividers, Lake Zurich, IL. [www.screenflex.com]