As a retired United States Air Force Flight Medic and volunteer EMT, James Welch has a long history of helping others, but it wasn’t until he watched a series on Facebook called “Returning the Favor” that he realized how he could give back. One of the episodes highlighted an organization called Sleep in Heavenly Peace which builds and delivers beds to children ages 3-17 who don’t have a bed. Just before Christmas 2018 the NY-Mechanicville Chapter delivered its first bed to a young boy. But it was the delivery made to a 16-year-old boy who had never had slept in a bed before and accepted the donation with tears in his eyes that stands out in his mind as his favorite memory.
James credits the incredible overnight success of Sleep in Heavenly Peace to his dedicated volunteers who continue to not only build and deliver the beds and bedding, but also serve as advocates for the cause. He is also proud to have children who have received beds and their parents volunteer to help build and deliver beds for other families so they can pay it forward. And, he and his volunteers developed an especially strong bond with a mother whose daughters received beds. During the bed delivery she told volunteers this was her first year on her own after being in an abusive relationship for 14 years and was struggling to provide a nice Christmas for her girls. James asked volunteers to “adopt” her girls for Christmas and they provided gifts, decorations, and food so they could enjoy a stress-free Christmas together as a family.
In 2019 the chapter built and delivered 205 bunk beds to children in the Capital Region.
In addition to volunteering for Sleep in Heavenly Peace, James also donates his time to Easton United Methodist Church as the Financial Manager and is an Assistant Girl Scout Troop leader.