Sunrise Mission renovates, opens new business

News Photo by Julie Riddle Workers near completion on the wheelchair ramp at the new Sunrise Mission education center, recently renovated to create space for mission residents to learn vital job skills.

ALPENA–Just south of the courthouse on West Chisholm Street, the Sunrise Mission occupies a yellow house with a pleasant front porch, offering temporary shelter and support services to those who are without a home.

The building next door, another house owned by the mission, was recently transformed into an education center, where mission residents can learn, work, and celebrate together.

Leslie Scheen, director of the mission, gave a tour through the renovated space.

Fresh-laid plank-look flooring spreads throughout the building, its earthy tones a complement to the modern, relaxing wall colors and crisp white trim. Plentiful windows invite sunshine into the space, the whole of it feeling clean and new, a place that feels like home.

Sunrise Mission is a 90-day shelter, offering housing for homeless individuals for three months while they work to identify the cause of their homelessness and build a life past whatever barriers may exist.

To help the mission accomplish that goal, significant upgrades have been made to the house next door — until now used as rollover housing for the shelter — to convert the main floor into space for large-group gatherings and training.

A generous private donation to the mission made the substantial renovation possible.

A kitchen, outfitted with updated appliances, attractive countertops, and cabinets stocked with pots and pans, will serve as a training ground for residents, offering a place to learn basic cooking skills to take with them when they leave.

It will also provide preparation space for the family-style meals that are served on holidays throughout the year.

It’s a Sunrise Mission tradition to offer a mid-day meal on holidays. Residents are invited to prepare a food item of their choosing, creating a meal that feeds anywhere from 30 to 70 people.

In the past, holiday meals were served in the mission’s living room, all the furniture piled into the hallway so a large table could be set up. Now, diners will be able to gather around a table in the sunny front room adjacent to the kitchen to break bread.

The front room will also house classes to teach basic employment techniques, such as resume-writing and job-appropriate behavior and apparel. Residents will also be able to sit around the table to learn about budgeting or parenting, or to gather for 12-step programs, Bible studies, or a family movie night, Scheen, the mission director, said.

The mission hopes to find funding for a large-screen television for the room, but it is otherwise outfitted, although writing utensils and pads of paper would be welcome donations.

In the back of the house, next to the handicap-accessible his-and-her bathrooms, a spacious computer center holds a handful of upgraded desktop computers, donated by the county. Residents can use the technology to search for jobs and fill out online paperwork.

Volunteers are being sought to help mission residents learn computer and job-related skills that they can take with them as they seek employment.

In front of the house, the construction of a wheelchair ramp is nearly finished, and then, Scheen said, the project will be complete.

In addition to the renovations, the financial gift has enabled the mission to begin a business. Just last week, Sunrise Mission Lawn Care began offering lawn care services to Alpena residents.

The business will provide employment for mission residents and other members of the community, who will be available to rake, mow, and provide basic yard cleanup services to interested clients.

A truck and trailer — emblazoned with the mission’s logo — and pieces of lawn care equipment were purchased with gift money. Interested homeowners will be given an estimate of the cost of service, with lawn care fees used both to pay the workers and support the mission.

The business was the brainchild of Scheen and lawn care supervisor Mike Fisher, who are excited about its possibilities as an avenue for giving mission residents a taste of the basic structures and requirements of employment.

“Just because you have issues, that doesn’t mean you check out of life. You still need to get up and do everyday stuff and go to work,” said Fisher, who teaches by example as he works side-by-side with the employees.

The homeowners who benefit from the lawn care service can feel good because they’re also providing a benefit of their own while supporting the mission and at the same time offering valuable experience to the workers.

“It’s a win-win for everybody,” Fisher said.

Julie Riddle can be reached at 989-358-5693 or

Sunrise Mission Lawn Care

Providing mowing, raking, and other services while supporting the homeless in our area

Call Mike Fisher at 989-916-7503 or visit the mission Facebook page for more information.