Free breakfast not enough - December 20, 2018

Courtesy of The News Dispatch • December 20, 2018 06:42 pm

Written by JEFF MAYES – Staff Writer

New community center next step in nurse’s ‘idea’

MICHIGAN CITY – Alisa Simmons, nurse and minister, saw a problem in 2014, and had “an idea” for how to help. On Saturday, her plan will take its next – and largest – step.

Back in 2014, the Michigan City resident said, “I started noticing more and more homeless people in the streets, so I asked my pastor at the time, the Rev. Stanley Mason of Mt. Zion Missionary Baptist Church, if I could start a breakfast ministry and utilize the church basement space, which included a full kitchen and dining area.”

The Arise & Shine Breakfast Ministry was born.

“Without hesitation, Pastor Mason donated the space, and with the help of a few local businesses that donated food and other products, and personal finances, my husband Anthony and I started serving free breakfast for those in need,” Simmons said.

Those meals became so popular, more space was needed.

“Our breakfast grew very quickly, so we had to move on from the limited space at Mt. Zion, and had brief stints at other locations throughout the city before finding a stable location on the property of Pleasant Hill Baptist Church” at 717 E. 10th St., Simmons said.

“That remains our location thanks to the generosity of Pastor James Lane, with whom we have a rental agreement. Our main outreach there is a breakfast that is served every Saturday morning. And we serve between 250-275 people monthly.”

Starting Saturday, that outreach will grow.

Arise & Shine will open its second location, and first standalone site, on the west side at 1010 W. Garfield St., a space that will “enable us to offer more transformational programs and services to the 17 percent of people in La Porte County who fall below the poverty line,” Simmons said.

The leased building “will allow us to provide so much more to the people we serve,” she said. “Our long-term vision is to not just be a handout with free breakfast, but to be a hand up and provide a myriad of services to help someone in crisis become self sufficient again.”

The goal is to become “a community center in every sense of the word, and offer a myriad of services all under one roof.”

That will eventually include crisis outreach, case management, lifeskill education, food and household subsidies, employment training and placement, personal empowerment training, and active referrals to other collaborative social service providers, she said.

For Simmons, an ICU nurse at Methodist Hospitals Northlake Campus in Gary, helping others is a personal thing she inherited from her mother.

“I’ve always had a passion for caring for others after watching my mom work in home care growing up as a teen,” she said. “My mom retired from St. Anthony’s Hospital as a nurse’s aide, and she was a local Head Start teacher, so I learned early on how fulfilling it is to care for others, even when you come from humble beginnings.

“I eventually took inspiration from my mom, and also became a registered nurse.”

While there are organizations and programs helping the homeless in Michigan City, Simmons knows more can be done.

“We do not [think enough is being done] and that is why we exist, to hopefully change that,” she said.

She also knows Arise & Shine can’t do it alone. Part of the goal of the new location is to be able to work more effectively with the other groups.

“Partnerships will be key in reaching these goals and our director of partnerships and provider relations, Antwan Burks, will be leading the charge,” she said.

Burks, a City native, previously resided in Orlando, where he had experience working with nonprofits in central Florida.

“He relocated back to Northwest Indiana this past year to be closer to family and assist with Arise & Shine,” Simmons said. He also serves on the organization’s board.

While the homeless are the target of the outreach, Arise & Shine also welcomes veterans and police officers, and Simmons thinks getting the latter involved will be a plus.

“We recognize the disconnect between the police and the community, and hope to be part of the solution by bridging that gap – providing an environment where our officers can have a hot coffee and breakfast alongside the people they are sworn to protect and serve. People in uniform and veterans are always welcome.”

Simmons said it’s all part of that original idea.

“Our goal is to become a beacon of light in the community and not only offer a hand out to those in need, but a hand up to self-sufficiency.”

Arise & Shine

Who: Arise & Shine Breakfast Ministry

What: Grand opening of second location, featuring free breakfast and lunch, free shoes, motivational speakers, giveaways, information and more

Where: 1010 W. Garfield St.

When: 8 a.m.-1 p.m. Saturday


Organizers wish to thank: Michigan City Community Enrichment Corporation, Pastor D. Glenn, Advancing Christ’s Ministries Kingdom; Rev. Stanley Mason, Mount Zion Missionary Baptist Church; Rev. James Lane , Pleasant Hill Missionary Baptist Church; Bobbi Hampton, Road To Life Church; Marty Corley, Michigan City, MCPD; Sacha Gee Burns, Solid Waste District of La Porte County; Walmart, Starbucks, Dunkin’ Donuts, Hearthside Food Solutions