“No kid sleeps on the floor in our town.” This is the motto of national nonprofit Sleep in Heavenly Peace. And in this case, “our town” refers to “everybody’s town.”
Launched in his garage in 2012, founder Luke Mickelson had just finished building bunk beds for a family as part of a service project his church organized around Christmas. When his kids seemed disappointed with their Christmas gifts, he corralled them into the garage and guided them in building a bunk bed from leftover wood. He listed the bunk bed on Facebook and asked if anyone in town needed one. In no time at all, comments poured in of local residents offering mattresses, pillows, and blankets to provide along with the bunk bed. Seven years later, Sleep in Heavenly Peace (SHP) gets an average of 60 requests a day for beds.
There are three components to the nonprofit’s business. First, funds are raised to purchase materials for the beds. Each bed costs $175 and includes the lumber, hardware, mattress, sheets and pillow. Once materials are gathered, the beds are built. As many as 20 beds can be made in one day by the volunteers. Finally, the group gets to deliver the beds and set them up in a child’s room. The children are encouraged to help with the assembly and are taught how to make their bed. Ending on a greater note, the volunteers tell them, “This is your bed,” giving them ownership of somewhere they can find rest and “sleep in heavenly peace”.
“I can’t stand the thought of some kid sleeping on the floor, certainly when there’s something I can do about it. I want a chapter in every state,” Mickelson says. Mike Rowe, of the video series “Returning the Favor”, visited the original warehouse in Twin Falls, Idaho, and provided an inside look into the nonprofit. He recorded footage as the community worked together to provide a larger warehouse with better working conditions for the volunteers, along with four years of paid rent to continue their work.
Mickelson’s hopes of having a chapter in every state are slowly coming true. Currently, there are 152 chapters across 41 states, and the list is growing! In fact, the Akron/Canton chapter is number 56 and Springfield Assembly’s own Gerry Fey is the president of the chapter!
Gerry best explains how SHP’s motto impacts him, “When most people hear it for the first time, it’s a little hard to take in. But the true reality is there are kids in our town, our communities and in our neighborhoods, that don’t have a bed. In our country, parents that struggle to provide for their family can get help with food and shelter, but having a bed where a child can get a good night’s rest remains a luxury. My hope and dream, as Akron Canton Chapter President of SHP, is one day when these kids grow up, they become givers because of the actions of strangers that gave and asked for nothing in return.”
Want to get involved? An opportunity is coming up to meet with Gerry and help where you’re able. On August 3, volunteers can meet at SHP (66 Hanna Pkwy in Akron) to help build 20 beds. No experience is necessary. Each volunteer gets hands-on training, learning one or more skills needed. This may include running a power sander, operating a drill press, or using an impact drill. The beds will be built in assembly line style, from start to finish. On August 24, volunteers can help deliver the beds and set them up in each bedroom.
For more information, or to sign up, please visit the Events page on Akron Canton’s SHP Facebook page (www.facebook.com/SHPAkronCanton) or visit the Information Center at Springfield Assembly.
By Rachel Rummell