An Idaho man went out to buy some lumber when he heard that kids in his community didn’t have beds and had to sleep on the floor each night. He quit his high-paying job, started a charity in his garage workshop, and never looked back.
Of course, it didn’t happen all at once.
Twin Falls churchgoer Luke Mickelson described it as an “eyeopener” when he first realized how widespread the need was. He recalled the heartbreaking imagery of how many children slept on nothing more than a pile of their own clothes on the floor each night, and he was shocked.
“This little girl had a nest of clothes, it looked like a little bird’s nest,” he recounted via CNN. “And that’s what she slept on, that’s what her bed was. When we delivered the bed, she hugged it and just couldn’t let go.”
He added, “These kids that we serve in our community come to us from all walks of life. They didn’t get into this situation because of their choices.
“We have a lot of situations where single parents are escaping an abusive situation. A lot of foster care situations, where parents or grandparents or brothers and sisters are trying to help. A lot of homelessness, people trying to get back on their feet. A $300 or $400 bed is just out of the possibility for them.”
This inspired Mickelson to start building beds in his spare time in 2012. He purchased materials out of his own pocket and used his own daughter’s bunkbed as a template for the design, along with some safety regulations.
The 41-year-old Idaho native once was a high school quarterback, eventually becoming a father and husband, with a very successful, and profitable, career.
The project soon multiplied. It began as a small operation enlisting family and friends in his garage. As the word got out about what they were up to, the wider community wanted to join in the charitable cause. Their first year of production yielded 11 whole beds, but that wasn’t even the tip of the iceberg compared to what they would accomplish.
The second year, they built 15 beds, and the number doubled each year after. Until in 2017, the team built 612 bunkbeds for needy kids.
And their operation expanded and got more organized. Mickelson gave it a name: Sleep in Heavenly Peace, and it became a full-fledged charity—not only in their community but across the nation. They currently have 65 chapters and provide training and building manuals for their some 15,000 volunteers nationwide.
Their motto is “No kid sleeps on the floor in our town.”
At a certain point, Mickelson had to choose between his very well-paying job and his passion to help kids. He chose the kids, and went from making great money to making none at all.
“I found that the need I have isn’t financial,” he explained. “The need I have is seeing the joy on kids’ faces, knowing that I can make a difference.”
Thankfully, a sympathetic company reached out to help the dad and his family to allow them to continue making a difference in the lives of so many.
To date, Sleep in Heavenly Peace has built and delivered over 1,550 bunkbeds to needy children across the country.