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News / Clark County News

Recovery Café wants to serve up hope, help

Nonprofit seeks to develop community of support

By Marissa Harshman, Columbian Health Reporter
Published: November 19, 2017, 8:32pm

Recovery is a forward-moving action. But for many in recovery from alcoholism or drug addiction, there are forces constantly trying to stop that movement.

A group of Clark County residents — some walking their own path of recovery, others who have worked with the community for decades — are hoping to help keep people moving toward recovery and, perhaps more importantly, keep their hope alive.

“There’s not going to be any healing if there’s no hope,” said Jerri Stanley, a local recovery coach who has been involved in advocacy work since 1983.

Stanley and a group of others involved with the Southwest Washington Recovery Coalition are establishing a local Recovery Café, modeled after the nonprofit of the same name in Seattle.

How To Help

To get involved with the program and building development of Recovery Café of Clark County, call Jerri Stanley at 360-984-6994.

“Recovery Café, to me, embodies what I’ve always believed in: love thy neighbor, accept others,” said Tim Ranger, who has been sober for 2 1/2 years, after decades of alcohol abuse.

Creating community

The Recovery Café was formed in 2004 in downtown Seattle. The goal was to build a community in which people in recovery and those who have experienced mental illness and homelessness can anchor themselves, said David Coffey, executive director of Recovery Café Seattle.

“There’s a myth that if you go to treatment for 30 days, 60 days or even six months, then you’re cured,” Coffey said. “It’s just long enough to get clean, but then it’s hard work to stay drug- and alcohol-free after treatment.”

That, Coffey said, is where the cafe comes in. Not only does the nonprofit provide fellowship and community, but it offers meals, a computer lab, classes and support groups.

“It creates this community, this smaller community, calling you to be your best self,” Coffey said.

The cafe does have some requirements of members. Those with a substance abuse disorder have to be drug- and alcohol-free for at least 24 hours. Members must also participate in a weekly small support group session, called Recovery Circle. Those who skip the meeting lose their cafe privileges for the week, Coffey said.

Finally, members are required to give back to the cafe in some way, whether it’s helping clean the facility or running Recovery Circle groups, Coffey said. Last year, members performed 13,000 hours of service work, he said.

“We couldn’t run the cafe without our members,” Coffey said.

There is no fee to be a member.

Several years ago, people from other communities started coming to Recovery Café seeking to replicate the model in their cities. The Recovery Caf? Network was created to help guide organizations through the process of establishing their own cafes.

The first cohort opened their cafes last year. That included the Recovery Caf? Kleen Street in Vancouver.

“Recovery Café Kleen Street is doing some exciting things for veterans, especially,” Coffey said.

This year, Stanley’s group from the Southwest Washington Recovery Coalition joined Dayton, Ohio to form the second cohort.

“Clark County is fortunate to have two groups so passionate about bringing recovery to their community,” Coffey said.

2018 opening planned

The details of how the new local cafe will operate are still in the works, but Stanley hopes to have its doors open by the summer of 2018.

In September, the Recovery Café of Clark County received its state nonprofit status. The group is now in the process of securing a location. Stanley hopes to find a place on the bus line and in an area where the population the center will serve receives other services. For those reasons, the group is looking along the Fourth Plain corridor.

Initially, the cafe will likely only be open two to four days per week. The goal is to be open five days a week, including one weekend day, Stanley said.

The Clark County cafe received a two-year grant from the Recovery Caf? Network to cover start-up costs. The grant was made possible by an anonymous donor.

Once open, the center will follow the model of the Seattle cafe, requiring members to be sober for 24 hours and to attend a weekly Recovery Circle meeting. The cafe will also require that members give back, volunteering their time at the center.

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“For some people in Seattle, it’s the first time they’ve ever been a member of anything,” Stanley said. “They value their membership.”

Stanley and Ranger hope local people in recovery will value their cafe membership, as well.

People in recovery for alcoholism or drug addiction, people with mental illness and those who are homeless are all stigmatized, Ranger said. He hopes Recovery Caf? of Clark County will be a place of acceptance for everyone, even those populations that are often stigmatized.

“I really believe in Recovery Café and what we can do for the community,” Ranger said.

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Columbian Health Reporter