From Probation to Volunteering: A Woman Gives the Gift of a Good Night’s Rest From Probation to Volunteering: Woman Gives the gift of a Good Night's Rest


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.”

Melonie Unger is a quilter

“I had a run in with a router cutter last night”

Who lets nothing get in the way of giving the community warmth one stitch at a time

“So I should have stopped and gone up stairs when I got tired”

Melonie sews to donate quilts, pillow cases, bags and more to numerous charities and churches and her selflessness doesn’t not go unnoticed

“She’s a friend to everyone. If she could help you she will do anything possible”

But it was her big heart that got her in trouble. In 2005, Melonie took money from the Credit Union to help a friend in need.

“I did something that I was very not proud of and um it was a rough 2 years journey going through that – because it kinda like I lost myself”

She committed larceny at a time when she lost her religion, but she refound her faith through her daughter. She then picked up a needle and thread to make quilts not only for herself but for others. It doesn’t stop at the bedding, Melonie knows every good night’s sleep starts with a foundation.

Melonie found her purpose in giving the gift of forty winks. In her journey, she found Sleep in Heavenly Peace, an organization that makes and delivers bed frames and mattresses to families in need. Between quilting and furniture, Alyssa Kearse says these beds offer her nine children a chance to 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.. And they can get a goods nights rest for school”

It’s the smiles like this one that keeps Melonie volunteering everyday

Reported by

Peyton Spellacy

Peyton Spellacy is a sophomore studying Broadcast and Digital Journalism from Sacramento, CA. She is dedicated to the integrity of journalism and allows everyone to find a voice through her reporting.When Peyton is not in class, you can find her on the tennis court, hosting her radio show on WERW, or on-air or producing at CitrusTV.

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