Arise owner talks mental health, business during COVID-19

Guest musician Anna Kate Warner, left, with Arise owner/therapist Leah McCollins, right, after Saturday evening’s fundraising concert at Arise (W.C. Mann for The Cullman Tribune)

HANCEVILLE, Ala. – Arise Coffee Company in Hanceville welcomed musician Anna Kate Warner for a concert Saturday evening to raise funds to support the downtown business that, like many, has faced its share of challenges during the COVID-19 pandemic. Owner Leah McCollins uses fundraisers like the concert to keep available all of Arise’s services, which go well beyond coffee and smoothies. Even the small gym and exercise classes in back do not tell the full story. 

McCollins is a Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC) with years of experience as a counselor in Hanceville’s schools. She works three days each week for Integrated Behavioral Health, but each Friday in a private office inside the coffee shop, she offers low-cost mental health services to clients who lack insurance or otherwise cannot afford to pay for therapy. On that one day per week, she sees an average of six to eight clients.

McCollins sat down with The Tribune after Saturday’s show to talk about coffee, exercise and mental health.

Said McCollins, “I see clients here at Arise. They mostly get referred to me by word of mouth; there is one doctor’s office here that I work closely with, and when she has clients that need mental health services, that she knows are low income or no insurance, then she refers them to me, as well.”

The counselor offers her low-income and uninsured clients substantial discounts on half hour- and hour-long sessions, and those who cannot afford even those amounts can work off their fees by helping out around the coffee shop and gym. Even those who cannot do that are not turned away.

McCollins told The Tribune, “I love for people to be able to give back, just because it’s rewarding and I want them to feel that reward. But I do have some folks that aren’t there yet; they’re not able to be in a position where they can give back, either with their services or their money. I still believe that those people need services.

“Having these events, selling coffee, people that come work out in the gym: that helps me to keep the doors open so that I can make mental health more accessible in my city.”

Basically, as long as Arise’s doors stay open, the Hanceville area’s low-income residents will have access to affordable mental health services.

How is the shop doing?

McCollins said Arise has suffered from loss of business income like many other businesses, but her landlord, who could have moved the business out, instead encouraged her to keep going. She added with a smile that business has picked up and is showing promising signs. Folks come in regularly for coffee and smoothies, as well as the shop’s growing healthy food menu, and to attend exercise classes or work out in the gym.

McCollins said, “Our focus here is wellness: spiritual, emotional, mental, psychological, physical wellness. Our menu is healthy, and I’m sure that a lot of folks come in here and go like, ‘Eww,’ but that’s our whole motivation for being here, is just to teach people how to be healthy. Our coffees are low-sugar, syrups. I told them last weekend I broke down and ordered some sugar in the raw, just because I have so many people that ask for sugar!”

For customers who want to make up for that little bit of extra sugar, Arise offers Monday, Wednesday and Friday evening boot camp classes with instructor Hayden Maples, and morning classes with McCollins.

What does a new customer need to try?

McCollins replied, “I would say that they need to try the Cascara Maple Latte that’s actually made from the fruit that surrounds the coffee bean. It’s super high in antioxidants; we add maple syrup and half-and-half creamer to that, and it is amazing! I don’t think you’re going to find that in the area. Our coffee guy raises coffee in Honduras; he’s a missionary down there, and he’s the one that introduced me to cascara. It’s low caffeine and very high in antioxidants, and it’s super good for you!”

Arise Coffee Shop is located at 113 Commercial St. in Hanceville, and opens at 6 a.m. Tuesday through Saturday. For more information visit or call 256-887-1234.

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W.C. Mann