How far would you go to show an act of kindness to those who are in need? The CNN Hero of Twin Falls, Idaho took the ‘good Samaritan’ a notch higher when he quit his high-paying job so that no kid will ever sleep on the floor ever again.
Prepare to be inspired by his incredible selflessness and charitable spirit, and learn why Luke Mickelson is one of 2018’S CNN Heroes.
Luke Mickelson, the 41-year old founder of Sleep in Heavenly Peace, shared to CNN how he was inspired and got the idea to start his project of building and delivering beds for children.
It was in the year 2012 when the selfless hero and his family heard of the surprising reality that there were local children who slept on the pile of their clothes laid on the floor. “This little girl had a nest of clothes, it looked like a little bird’s nest. And that’s what she slept on, that’s what her bunk was… When we delivered the bunk, she hugged it and only couldn’t let go.”
The former high school quarterback who is now a happy family man recalled how learning of this circumstances opened his eyes about the unfortunate realities of life. “It was such an eye-opener to me, ” he remembered. “I sat there in silence reasoning, ‘Is that is actually what’s going on? ” Luke pondered what solution he could offer to aid this problem.
“There’s kids next door whose parents are fighting only to put meat on the table, clothes on their back, a roof over their brain. A couch was just a luxury.”
Luke felt that he must do something for these children who could not afford to sleep on a comfortable bed. Though clueless about the proper due and process, Luke decided to start his Sleep in Heavenly Peace project.
Using a safety guideline, his daughter’s bunk bed as a template, and money from his own pocket, Luke set on his new advocacy. He bought lumber and supplies and also asked for the help of his family and friends in order to build a couch and a bunk for children.
“That first project, we constructed 11 bunk beds in my garage, ” Luke shared the success of his first project. “The next year, we did 15. Then it doubled every year. In 2017, we built 612 bunk beds.”
Through word of mouth, the alarming reality that there are still children sleeping on the hard floor came to the attention of his and his neighboring community. With the rising awareness regarding the children’s situation, other people became concerned and also actively participated in Luke’s endeavor, multiplying the number of bunk bed he has produced.
Living with its philosophy,“No kid sleeps on the floor in our town!” Luke’s nonprofit project along with its more than 65 chapters have produced and delivered more than 1,500 free bunks and couches to children, not only of Idaho but across the states of America as well.
As the old saying goes, no man could serve two masters at once… Luke found himself needing to make one of the toughest decisions in his life and that is no other than choosing between his career and his advocacy.
Knowing how much important his project is for children, the CNN hero chose the latter. He decided to give up his career in order to give his 100% effort in building beds for kids.
“I noticed … … that the want I have isn’t financial, ” he explained. “The need I have is checking the exuberance on kids’ faces, just knowing that I can make a difference.”
Luke gave up his bread and butter of 18 years in order to dedicate his heart and attention to his advocacy. Fortunately, there is another company that is very understanding of his passion and compensates him enough to get him and his family by.
Learn more about Luke’s selfless advocacy, here’s the edited version of CNN’s Allie Torgan’s one-on-one interview with Luke Mickelson:
When CNN’s Allie Torgan asked the hero about who benefits from his project, Luke explained that they are the children whose family perceives bed as nothing but a luxury. They are also composed of people who came from an abusive situation and are currently trying to get back on their feet.
“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. Often, they take their clothes off at night, set their pajamas on, and sleep on top of their clothes. And then they just reiterating that round every day.”
According to Luke, the selfless CNN Hero, for those who would like to apply for a bed, they can visit their website: shpbeds.org and click on the REQUEST A BED button. Simply fill out the application form and wait for his team’s response. As of today, the team is receiving an average of 25 applications every day, nationwide.
He would also like everyone to be understanding and patient because as of now, they do not have any paid staff. But rest assured that the team is doing their very best in order to attend to the demand of the requests they are getting.
Luke also describes the overwhelming feeling and satisfaction he gets every time he would see children reacting to their brand-new bunks.
“When we give a bed, that’s where the rubber satisfies the road. We make sure that they understand that… This is your bed. This is yours. This is a possession of yours.” Luke also shared how excited the children are upon receiving their gift. Most of the time the children would ask questions about how they could help in building their bed, some kids even bring the timber itself.
Luke perceives his project as his way of reassuring the children that there are people in this world that are here for them. And that is exactly what he wants the children receiving the bunks to feel.
“Just rendering a kid a sense of ownership, a sense of being responsible, as well as a good night’s sleep, is enormous for them. They learn how to take care of things. They learn [about] importance. They get confidence — and they get a good night’s sleep.”
As of today, the Sleep in Heavenly Peace project has already built 1823 beds and delivered 1553 beds to children who are in need of a comfortable sleep. The production of beds are not the only aspect of the project that is growing but the support of volunteers and community to their cause as well.
Truly, no amount of money in this world can compare to that satisfying and fulfilling sense of being able to do what you love while being of service to others. Just as how Luke proved that money isn’t everything, may we also realize that there are things in this world far greater than material wealth.