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Go to the I Heart Radio app to Apple Podcasts or wherever you get your podcasts. Up next, the story of an ordinary man who did something extraordinary when he found out about an issue not very many people think about. Child bedlessness. Here's Luke Michelson of Sleep in Heavenly Peace to tell his story of selflessness.
Our words, by the way, not his. Take it away, Luke. You know, I'm from a small town, Kimberly, Idaho. 3700 people. I went to school there, graduated there and built my family up and I had my whole career lined out.
I worked for a local water treatment company and and was going to be buying it and had my retirement set. I mean it was I was all planned out and in 2012 personally I was kind of going through this this life crisis. This both faith and personal crisis. You know where you just you just don't know what your mark is on this world. You don't know if if this is the job you need to be in. If this is the faith you should believe in. Am I being a good dad?
Am I you know am I providing everything for my family? And at the time in my church service, I was what was called the young men's president like a youth pastor and a young men's president is responsible for the spiritual growth and the activity of the young men's program, which was boys ages 12 to you know 16, 17. At that time, the church's activity program we followed was the Boy Scouts. So I was kind of the leader over the Boy Scout leaders and one day I we were sitting with the other church auxiliary leaders and talking about the needs of not just the congregation but other people within the community and there was one family particular that that was talked about. They were the local school bus driver. She drove bus.
The father suffered a little bit from some mental health, so I had a hard time holding down a job and they were just trying to make it. And what was unique about them too? They were just right downtown, Kimberly. They were in some apartment complexes I didn't even know existed, but what shocked me the most was they had kids and. They were all sleeping on the floor. Now I'd never heard of that before you know, I always thought certainly kids have beds and places to sleep, but when I heard about this, it just something struck me wrong. I just said this is wrong and and I wanted to do something about it. I wanted to get my scouts involved.
I wanted them to get an Xbox controller out of their hands and and get a drill and a sander in it and teach them skills, but also the value of giving back and giving back to maybe even one of their peers in school. And so I went home after that meeting and measured this. We had this bunk bed my daughter was sleeping on at the time and I measured it and looked at it and said, you know what I think I could do this. I didn't have any tools. I had to borrow my wife's tools, but it was fun. You know we took these boys and put them to work in my garage and you know after three or four days, lo and behold, we had a finished bunk bed and it was so so much fun.
I never saw in all the time I was serving as a young man's present. I never saw the boys so engaged in an activity. I mean it was hard.
It's hard enough to get teenage boys off their screens and they really took after it and so did I. We just had a great time, but then it came to the night that we were going to deliver this bed to this family. This bunk bed and I. I couldn't go. I had to stay back and clean my garage and but all the all the kids and their parents went and the other church leaders went to this family and the next day. I just heard how amazing it was the the family was so appreciative. The kids loved it and what was shocking to me and great was how my Boy Scouts loved it. It was just such a great moment.
I felt a little cheated cuz I didn't get to go but but I gotta see the results from the the Happy Scouts. Well that night sitting on the couch, you know you have one of these moments and it was it was first week of December planning for Christmas figuring out how we're gonna pay for things and I don't know it just I had this moment of just despair and you know what what what is what is this all about? My kids are here complaining about the presents they're not gonna get cuz I told them not and you know as a father, I should be providing for him but I wanna teach himself. I don't know you know what where's my mark in life and this all just seem to be stirring around in my brain and then I thought I felt so much joy and happiness when I was building that bunk bed with my scouts and I want that with my family. I want these these kids of mine to appreciate what they have but also learn the joy of giving back and so I remember I just got up off the couch, walked out to the garage. Everybody's going where where's dad going and I said, you know what I've got some leftover wood.
We're gonna build another bed and you're gonna come help me. I had no clue who to give it to I just I remember thinking okay. I does anybody know anybody that has a child sleeping on the floor cuz I sure didn't and it was suggested to me to put it on Facebook in one of these little buy sell trade groups and so that's what I did. I was a little hesitant at first cuz I'm pretty sure you know you put something on one of those sites is free.
It doesn't matter what it is you're gonna get also all sorts of people that want it, but what happened was quite different than what I expected. Although we did get some people's requests. I got more people that wanted to help out and I labeled it as you know.
Hey, this is a family Christmas project. We just wanted to help a family out with the bed. So if you know of any kids that are sleeping on the floor, let us know, but I got more people saying. Oh my gosh. That's great. How can I help can I bring some quilts and some pillows and it was just really neat to see the community come alive. That was shocking to me, but what hit me the most is I did end up talking to a good friend of mine to Neil Clarage who's working with was working with a homeless transition type agency and and she had this family. When we come back more of Luke Michaelson's story and the ministry he started here on Our American Stories. Folks, if you love the great American stories we tell and love America like we do, we're asking you to become a part of the Our American Stories family. If you agree that America is a good and great country, please make a donation. A monthly gift of $17.76 is fast for coming a favorite option for supporters. Go to our American stories.com now and go to the donate button and help us keep the great American stories coming. That's our American stories.com.
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And breakout your dance moves with I Heart Radio's K-Pop Hits playlist. Find new entertainment on Xfinity Flex. All for free. No strings attached. Say free this week into your Xfinity voice remote.
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To learn more about the design and innovation at Nissan, visit www.NissanUSA.com. And we continue with our American stories and with Luke Michaelson, the founder of Sleep in Heavenly Peace. Let's pick up where we last left off.
Here's Luke. I call it my Haley story. So Haley and her mom had been living in a car. Haley was six years old, never had a bed, been sleeping in the back seat of her mom's car, and they just got a home. And I thought, oh my gosh, this is perfect.
This is exactly what I wanted for this Christmas gift. And so me and a buddy went out to this house to deliver this first bed. And as we walked in the door, you know, I had seen poverty before, but I hadn't seen it through the eyes of a child.
And this child, you wouldn't have been able to tell that she's this destitute. She was so happy she had a house. But the only thing in the house was a can of soup sitting on a hot plate that was resting on a milk carton, one of those crates. And that was it. That was the only thing in the house.
But she was so excited. I, you know, met the mom and met her and I said, show me where your bedroom is. And she pulled me back into her bedroom, never had one before. And when I walked into this room, boy, there's a room that I'm sure you could probably see in your mind, you know, holes in the carpet and wallpaper ripped.
But what was the most shocking thing to me? And to this day, I just, I just, it'll stick with me forever is this pile of clothes that were sitting in the corner. And that's where little Haley slept.
She'd come home from school and put her PJs on and sleep on her clothes and then and then put her school clothes on in the morning and go to school. And it just, to look at this happy child, sorry, and then to see the conditions she was sleeping in. I was overcome with joy that we were bringing her a bed. And so we brought this bed in and you know, of course in pieces and as we started assembling it, you could see her trying to figure it out what we were doing and and then once once she realized it was a bed, she just erupted grabbing the bed, grabbing us, hugging us, hugging the bed, kissing the bed.
I'd never seen that before. It was just a overwhelming feeling of bringing a child something that they they love. So it's kind of like you know Christmas morning when you when you bring your child their favorite present. That's close to how it felt but far more emotional for me and and then to look over and see this mom of 6 years trying to trying to provide for her daughter tears running down her face and I was raised by a single mom too.
So it really touched me knowing that she's she struggled mentally and and probably physically that to try to get this child the best care that she deserves and you know the car was the best she could do at the time and now her daughter has a bed, a mattress, a comfortable place to sleep. It was just it was just overwhelming. I remember driving home. It's about a half hour from from where I lived and me and my friend Jordan really didn't say much to each other.
I mean it was kind of did that just happen? It was amazing and I remember about the time we got home. I I thought you know what for the for the few hours in a few days that that took me and my family to do and solve a problem like that.
That was well worth my time. No kid was going to sleep on the floor in my town if I had anything to do with it and that was kind of the motto I lived by the the Saturday afternoon football games or the fishing that I did quite often just didn't seem near as important near as fun near as fulfilling as it used to be. I wanted to build beds and so so we decided we were going to build as many beds as we could that Christmas holiday and and I remember my wife said you know well you gotta call it something and I said well how about beds for babes? First of all she said no that's not a very good Google search by the way so I said well what do we call it then and she said well how about sleep in heavenly peace and you know Christmas time and silent night.
It was just perfect. It was exactly what we wanted to leave the child in was was something that they could sleep in in peace with and so so we called it sleep in heavenly peace AKA SHP. That year we took our whole Christmas fund and that's that's what we did and I landed at Lowe's. The store manager said you know what I love this project what you're doing. You can have 50% off anything you buy and so of course we bought some drills and some hardware and and of course wood and we ended up able to build a total of twenty-two beds that Christmas and I'll deliver them all before before Christmas came and and many many times have I heard that a bed for a child at that time of year was the only Christmas present that they were going to get. We built twenty-five beds the next year and then fifty the year after that and it just doubled every year but 2015 we became a nonprofit and it was crazy. We built 160 beds something like that and it just the more we built the more people found out and the more people found out the more they wanted to do it. Then all of a sudden we had friends in other states and people that didn't know us in other states that wanted to do the same thing so we we started putting them on as chapters and teaching them how we're doing it and then we got a I got a call actually was an email about this agency in New York that wanted to do an article on us and wanted to fly all the way from New York to to Twin Falls, Idaho and do this magazine article on us and I thought that was kind of weird.
Okay great. Well lo and behold I was I didn't know everybody else knew but I didn't know that it was this this little Facebook watch series called Returning the Favor which isn't so little and the main host was micro dirty jobs guy and so he came out and surprised us with the space that we desperately needed as we were building beds in garages. We needed the space and we they provided a space for us for 3 years, but more importantly that episode was viewed by 10 million plus people. And when this hit me even work even that life plan didn't seem as important to me and so so I quit. I didn't have a job at the time. I didn't know what I was gonna do. I took a huge like a huge pay cut, but really was it was walking to the unknown, but it didn't matter like I I didn't care whether I was gonna live in a shed or or really have to go without because my joy did not come from the number of zeros behind my paycheck, but it came from the number of kids that I could help looking back at it right now. I I just cringe at the thought that that I would have ever considered anything else.
I think year to date. We're probably over 6000 people that have requested to become a chapter for their own area and and now we're in four different countries and we build over 50000 beds a year built and delivered to kids all across the country 12 years ago. If you told me II was gonna build beds for kids as my as my goal in life and purpose in life, I would've I probably would've laughed. It wasn't anything on my radar, but it just took one child and one situation and one family to see just how much I could make a difference in their life by just putting something together as simple as a bed and now it's my whole life. And a terrific job on the editing production and storytelling by our own Monty Montgomery and a special thanks to Luke Michelson for sharing his story of how sleep in heavenly peace was born and it all started with that little girl who was sleeping in the back seat of her mother's car and the joy he felt delivering that bed in that house.
She'd finally had an overwhelming feeling. He described the joy he felt and soon those Saturday football games and fishing weren't as important to him as making more beds and feeling that feeling again and pretty soon he turned over his entire Christmas fund built twenty-two beds than twenty-five then the nonprofit forms then Mike Rowe comes in and then of course he gives it all up and now there are 6000 chapters and he's making 50000 beds a year. A pure and beautiful American dream story. The story of sleep in heavenly peace.
Luke Michelson's story here on Our American Story. Whether you're searching for the latest sneaker drop, that iconic handbag, a timeless watch, or your next piece of classic jewelry, eBay authenticators are there verifying every detail of your purchase. With years of experience, they're making sure the piece you're searching for is worthy of your collection. eBay's authenticators are experts in their craft, true connoisseurs, and as leaders in their fields, they're making sure your items always arrive as authentic as your style. In a world full of fakes, it's time to get real with eBay Authenticity Guarantee. Everyone deserves real.
Visit eBay.com for terms. State Farm is committed to being your top choice when ensuring the things that matter to you. My cultura podcast host, Dramos, also believes in the power of financial knowledge. That's why he makes sure to share his financial tips on his podcast, Life as a Gringo.
Financial freedom usually means having enough savings, financial investments, and cash on hand to afford the kind of life we desire for ourselves and our families. Like a good neighbor, State Farm is there. Learn more at es.statefarm.com. State Farm is a proud partner of the My Cultura Podcast Network.
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