James A. Mathis Sr. is a man remaking himself with a newly minted mission spun from a dream that came to him when he was down and out. Lee Jackson is vice president of the Community Action of Greater Indianapolis with a constant mission to provide services for people in need throughout Boone, Hamilton, Hancock and Marion counties.
Cookies with a religious message spun with edible ink unites the two missions at a Black Expo booth July 14-16.
“We thought, why not publicize our program by selling Brother Mathis’ cookies at Black Expo? We’re always looking for different ways to get our message out so that anyone without a means to pay for heat during the winter knows to come to the agency for help,” Jackson explained. “Last winter, Community Action served over 50,000 people in need of heating assistance, and yet many fell through the cracks because they didn’t know to come to us. Even people in Hamilton County need help. Many people are getting poorer while many are getting richer.”
Mathis came to Indianapolis in 2003 from Louisville and joined Emanuel Missionary Baptist Church, which “embraced me and my son and gave us a foundation to raise my son in a stable situation.”
Nevertheless, Mathis Sr. and Jr. became homeless and that’s how selling cookies with a religious message “began to be a dream come true.” Mathis set out to draw attention to what he calls his “Cookie Ministry” in order to develop it into a business much like the Mary Kay concept.
The idea of imprinting uplifting messages on cookies came from the 12-step Alcoholics Anonymous program Mathis was enrolled in. He made his way to First Avenue Cookie Company in Carmel, convinced them to assist him and made the rounds of media to tell his story.
“Our goal is to help Mathis and create dialogue about Community Action,” Jackson said. “We have 21 programs we want people to know about, help fund and get into when they need help or before they get into a bad way. That includes [the span] from the low cost child care center in its seventh year in Lebanon to the senior housing center being built at 21st and Emerson in Indianapolis.”
“I have a troubled past, and it’s hard,” Mathis said. “I have love, concern for people. You have to have respect for yourself before you can get out of your hole. I’m going to put the past behind me. This ministry of cookies is a fund-raiser to help empower people.”
Call Community Action of Greater Indianapolis at 317-396-1800 or 317-524-6950.