When Bruce and Rosita Sheldon were searching for a unique way to help others, they never dreamed they would find the answer during a random search on the internet. That is exactly what happened when Bruce contacted Sleep In Heavenly Peace (SHP) at the end of September, hoping to help the national nonprofit build beds for children who were sleeping on the floor.
“I really believe I was just led to them,” Bruce said. “My wife and I wanted to do something to help somebody, and I thought, ‘This I could do.’”
Bruce contacted the organization with the intention of volunteering for the Owensboro chapter of SHP, but found the closest chapters were two hours away in Louisville and Paducah. In a matter of just two months, Bruce assembled the necessary volunteers and attended the required trainings to create an Owensboro chapter of SHP.
Sleep in Heavenly Peace was founded in Twin Falls, Idaho, in 2012 by Luke Mickelson after he was asked to build a bed for a young girl in his church who had been sleeping on the floor. Mickelson continued to build beds in his garage and expanded his vision to nine chapters in the Idaho area. After receiving extensive media coverage in 2018, SHP now has 220 chapters nationwide.
“We went out there [to Idaho] and did some leadership and nonprofit training,” Bruce said. “We actually got to deliver a bunk bed. Once you see the kids and get to see the smile on their face from having something of their own they’ve never had before — that’s when it gets you.”
Recently, Bruce and the team made a trip to Paducah to build 20 beds. Each delivery, he said, has impacted him in some way.
“There was a mother with six kids in an apartment and all they had were two twin beds [for the whole family],” Bruce said. “When we got done, we had built them two bunk beds and two twin beds. The littlest one was 3 years old. I never heard him say a word, but when I picked him up and put him in his bed he was so happy.”
It costs $350 to create one set of bunk beds for two children. When they are delivered to the families, they include everything needed for each child to receive a good night’s sleep, including their own mattress, bedding, pillow and pillowcase.
“This organization is totally non-profit — nobody takes a dime,” Bruce said. “We try to keep our expenses under 10 percent, but it is more like 5 percent with 95 percent going right back into the beds where it’s needed.”
According to Bruce, Owensboro will not be considered an active chapter until after their first build. They are currently trying to raise $4,000 for the tools and jigs necessary for construction, then those in need will be able to go to the website and request a bed. There are no income requirements or limitations for a child to receive a bed except that the child must be between the ages of 3 and 18 years old.
“If a kid needs a bed, it’s not the kids fault,” Bruce said. “We’re just taking care of the kids is all we’re doing. It’s all about the kids. Our national motto is, ‘No kid sleeps on the floor in our town.’”
One goal of the local Owensboro chapter of SHP is to build 10 to 14 beds in a 3 to 4 hour period. This limits the time invested by volunteers to 3 to 4 hours so that they are not overwhelmed and are able to have an enjoyable experience. In order to assist with a build, volunteers do not need to have a carpentry background, must be at least 12 years old and will each be provided with gloves and safety glasses.
“We have these ‘builds’ so that we can invite the community and get people involved,” Bruce said. “We could easily put a few beds together in a garage and deliver them, but it’s more important to bring the community together for a cause. And we let everyone know that’s donating, that the money is staying right here in our community helping out.”
While Bruce said he understands that the conditions of all the homes they deliver to may not always be favorable, each and every family he has encountered so far has been incredibly polite and thankful.
“It’s a super good cause,” Bruce said. “It’s something that every town needs — just in Owensboro and Daviess County there are over 100,000 people. That’s over 3,000 needs here. I’m hoping it will take off and we can do some good — I’m excited about it.”