Lily Rex, Chesterton Tribune

From cafes to career coaches, local businesses are offering support to federal workers affected by the government shutdown.

Laura Verheaghe, owner of Red Cup Cafe, is inviting federal workers to come in for a coffee, a muffin, and even lunch, on her.

Verheaghe said she had her first customers take advantage of the offer when a member of the Coast Guard and his wife came in early yesterday morning.

Her response when the couple asked if spouses were covered: “I got you girl.”

Verheaghe said, in a plot twist, a Red Cup regular who serves in the Navy overheard and actually took care of the couple’s bill. The Navy and the Coast Guard supposedly don’t get along, but Verheaghe thinks that doesn’t matter in a shutdown.

Verheaghe said she thinks businesses and people all over the country are being moved to offer support to federal workers, and she’s happy to have a way to help. “To give up myself in service to others is the best part of this job.”

Meanwhile, Miranda Morley, owner of Morley Career Solutions, is offering to help federal workers who are considering a job change by meeting with them for free to give career advice. Morley has over a decade of experience as a career coach and professional resume writer.

In addition to the free meeting, Morley’s services will be discounted 30 percent for affected federal workers, who will have the option of delaying payment until their pay resumes or paying in installments.

Morley said the affected workers shouldn’t be reduced to numbers. “They are people who have families, pets, responsibilities and medical needs.”

Those interested can contact Morley through her website to set up a phone or face-to-face appointment.

“My mission is to help people lead more fulfilling lives by loving what they do,” Morley said. “If I can use my strengths to help them find more fulfilling positions, I consider it an honor to do so.”

Service organizations, of course, are joining in too. The Duneland YMCA announced yesterday that they will waive membership fees for furloughed federal workers and their families for the duration of the shutdown and for one month after they return to work.

Duneland Y CEO Dave Kasarda said, “We know the financial ramifications of the shutdown are affecting people in the Duneland communities, and we’d like to help them get through it. At the Y, we’re about strengthening community.”

Those interested must show a government ID card, and should contact Membership Director Carla Patino-Davis by calling (219)926-4204 or emailing

The Westchester Neighbors Food Pantry is expanding its reach in response to the shutdown, according to President and Westchester Township Trustee Suzanne Philbrick.

“To help those government workers and military personnel who have been furloughed without pay, the food pantry is waiving residency requirements and opening itself to all who are affected,” Philbrick said.

Philbrick said there will be a regular distribution at Duneland Resale, 801 Broadway, Chesterton, on Tuesday, Jan. 22 from 9 to 11 a.m. Affected workers just need to show their government or military IDs and fill out a form.

According to social media accounts, the following businesses are also offering specials for government workers.

* Dancebizz Centre for Dance, 306 Calumet Road, Chesterton, said in a Facebook post, “If you are a furloughed employee and its your primary source of income, we will waive your tuition until the government shutdown ends.”

* Hunter’s Brewing, 1535 S. Calumet Road, Chesterton, wrote in a post yesterday, “For federal workers impacted by the shutdown, we’ll be offering 50% off all food orders for you and your immediate family.” Bring an ID to get the offer.

* Doc’s Smokehouse & Craft Bar, 1420 Calumet Avenue, Dyer, wrote, “We would like to help out those in our community who have been impacted by the government shutdown. Have a meal on us.” The “shutdown special” is a free pork sandwich, chips, and drink with a federal ID. Doc’s also has locations in Milwaukee and Mokena, Ill.

* Val’s Famous Pizza & Grinders, 112 S. 11th Street, Chesterton, wrote that customers who can prove they are federal employees can either run a tab or get a discount of one percent for each day the government has been shut down (today’s discount would be 27 percent). “Hopefully this will allow a bit of normality and relief to our friends out there.”

* Don Quijote Restaurante, 119 Lincolnway, Valparaiso, wrote, “Done Quijote Rest. would like to invite federal workers and families to stop by and enjoy a warm cup of soup and a sandwich, any time.”