Informational session to discuss Dream Center outreach Oct. 23

NILES — A Niles community outreach effort called the Dream Center has taken shape, with the effort to continue to hit the pavement to help local residents with a variety of needs.

A panel discussion that will present information about the Dream Center and opportunities to sign up as a volunteer will take place at 7 p.m. Oct. 23, at the Niles District Library, 620 E. Main St.

Dr. Sherry O’Donnell is among the lead coordinators in the effort. O’Donnell is a doctor of osteopathic medicine and operates her own practice called Rappha Medical Center in St. Joseph. In June, O’Donnell spearheaded the transfer of the HERBIE Health Clinic to a location in Niles. The clinic serves those who do not have health insurance. With the clinic opening recently in Niles, O’Donnell felt like the timing was ideal.

O’Donnell described the Dream Center as a network and ministry that seeks to help those in need get connected with the resources that can make their lives better. For example, she said getting to the root of various community issues, like why a person continues to need food from the food pantry is essential. If that person needs food security because they are having trouble finding a job, O’Donnell said working to get that person resources that could help will be a part of the Dream Center.

“There just is no coordination,” O’Donnell said. “They are using the commodities of the agencies, but they are not transforming their life. We want to be the connecting piece between those things.”

Completing outreach projects will also be part of the mission. On Oct. 27, the Dream Center is planning to begin its adoption of a trailer park near Barron Lake, though the date is subject to possible change.

O’Donnell said the Dream Center does not have a location yet. Being that the effort is “boots to the ground,” she said she is not sure that a centralized place will be needed.

As the Dream Center’s efforts continue to grow, she said she will be looking for other charity efforts to join the effort.

“Right now, we are working on the foundation of the health clinic,” O’Donnell said. “We would love other agencies to come along and partner with that.”

Already, Kim Savage, a co-owner of 11th Harvest Café, has promised to help with efforts. Savage turns her restaurant into a soup kitchen one night a month.

In Niles, O’Donnell said some of top aims will be looking for ways to address drug and alcohol addiction, homelessness, human trafficking and improved education.

O’Donnell said the Dream Center got its start in the 1990s in Los Angeles’ Skid Row. She said the whole motto, which the Niles Dream Center will emulate was “See a need, fill it. See a hurt, heal it.”

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