SYRACUSE, N.Y. (NCC News) — Melonie Unger dedicates every day to volunteering in a myriad of ways, but you will most likely find her behind her sewing machine most days. Even a rotary cutter injury wouldn’t stop Melonie. From Quilts to pillowcases to bags, she sews it all. Most of her creations are given to charities or churches.
Her friend and fellow quilter Pattie Blanchard said, “She has a big heart. She’s a friend to everyone. If she could help you she would do anything possible.”
But it was her big heart that sent her down the wrong path. In 2005, Melonie committed grand larceny in the third degree while she worked as the Liverpool branch manager of the Syracuse Federal Credit Union. She needed the money to help a friend who was in need.
“I did something that I was very not proud of and it was a rough 2 years journey going through that,” Melonie said, “It kinda like I lost myself”
She spent those next years finding herself and gaining a new purpose in life. Melonie was raised to always give back to her community. Her father was a car mechanic, and would often fix cars for free so that people could get to work and put food on their tables. She said she lost sight of this and lost her faith. It was her daughter who helped her find her religion once again.
Since then, she has been giving warmth to the community one stitch at a time. Her volunteering goes beyond quilting. Melonie is also a part of 100 Women Who Care CNY, Interfaith Works, and Sleep in Heavenly Peace.
Melonie delivers and makes bed frames every Saturday for families in the news with Sleep in Heavenly Peace. This week, a family with 9 children was scattered throughout the house, some sleeping on the floor. Melonie and her team left no child without a bed that day.
It brought Alyssa Kearse, a Sleep in Heavenly Peace recipient, comfort, knowing her children have the chance at a fresh start every morning. “It is good to know that my kids have their own space so that they can be comfortable and stretch out,” Kearse said. “And they can get a good night’s rest for school.”
When asked why she dedicates her days to volunteering Melonie can sum her answer up in one story: “Last week, this little boy, we opened the door and he just ran and hugged me. He didn’t even know who I was. And he’s like, ‘You’re bringing me a bed!’ That’s what drives me every Saturday morning. People say ‘How do you get up so early and go do that?’ But that’s what drives me.”