By DANIELLE REID
Last Saturday, October 21st at the Dublin United Methodist Church picnic shelter, 28-intrepid volunteers braved the chilly temperatures and blustery winds to construct beds so children in the NRV would have a bed of their own to sleep in.
Although the weather was cold, these warm-hearted people volunteered with NRV Sleep in Heavenly Peace (SHP), a 501-C3 organization dedicated to providing beds for children. The parent organization was started by Luke and Heidi Mickelson from Twin Falls, Idaho with a unique goal. Mickelson started making bunk beds in 2012 with a dream to help children in his church and community who may be sleeping on a couch or the floor. Volunteers from his church showed up in his garage to help build, sand, construct and deliver the beds. From that humble beginning, there are now 200 SHP chapters nationwide and in Bermuda.
The SHP motto is: “No Kid Sleeps on the Floor in Our Town – and we want our town to become everyone’s town.” The organization provides beds for children ages 3 to 17 who have no bed of their own.
Their website affirms that “Across the U.S., too many boys and girls go without a bed – or even a pillow – to sleep on. These children end up sleeping on couches, blankets, and even floors. This can affect their happiness and health. That’s where Sleep in Heavenly Peace comes in. We’re a group of volunteers dedicated to building, assembling and delivering top-notch bunk beds to children and families in need.”
The local NRV Chapter of SHP was founded in December 2019 by Paul Mele of Blacksburg. Mele traveled to Twin Falls, ID for training in organizing a Chapter, building the bunk beds, and fundraising. The NRV Chapter built their first bed in July of 2020. The cost for building and delivering a bed has increased but for only $250.00 SHP can provide a fully furnished bed with a new mattress, pillows and bedding.
According to Ron Mady, one of the core members of the NRV Chapter, “The NRV Chapter of SHP has built over 800 beds in Pulaski County, Montgomery County and the City of Radford – with hopes of finding teams for future expansion in Giles County.”
Mady, who joined the NRV Chapter of SHP in June 2020, was on site Saturday to help with the bed builds. He also make deliveries. “Delivering beds is a most rewarding experience. When we deliver a bed to a family who has hardly any furniture, and you put up the bed, and furnish the bedding on it, their look, their smiles and their happiness is unreal. Until I got involved, I had no idea of the great need for beds in our area.”
“We built 20 beds today and although we’re not delivering any today, let me tell you about a delivery we made a few days ago. A family with twins about eight-years old had a birthday wish – they wished for beds for their birthday. When we found out there were five kids in the family, we delivered beds for all of the kids. When the twins got their beds, they laid on the beds and cried,” Mady said.
Paul Fitzgerald of Blacksburg was also on site that day. Fitzgerald, who was the first member of this NRV Chapter, is the organizer who sets up the jobsites and makes sure all the required tools and materials are at the site. “We provide the materials and tools to build each bed. All the volunteers need to do is show up.”
NRV SHP could be the perfect service project for your church, civic group or corporate team builder. Participants say that a building-bed project day helps build camaraderie, bring people, co-workers and communities together to provide comfort to a child, and perhaps change a child’s life.
If you or your organization would like more information on how to sponsor a build, contact Paul Mele at Paul.email@example.com. You can also find information to volunteer or apply for a child’s bed by visiting: https://www.shpbeds.org/chapter/va-new-river-valley