During hard times, it’s easy to feel as though things will never get better. But positive change can start with something as simple as an understanding ear and a warm meal.
Recovery Cafe is a community-based support organization that seeks to provide pathways to recovery for those struggling with addiction, abuse, past trauma and more.
While the cafe boasts an array of recovery programs, its most accessible and well-known service is its daily free lunch for members.
Juliey Parker is the kitchen manager and lead cook for Recovery Cafe Clark County. With the help of her assistant, JayCee Hutchman, Parker plans, prepares and provides nearly 100 comforting hot meals daily. The responsibility is deeply personal; she originally came to the cafe as a member.
In 2020, Parker found herself struggling. “I was required to do two community support groups a week in order to get my driver’s license back, and since the cafe is a five-minute walk from my house, I thought I’d see what they were all about,” Parker said.
In addition to joining support groups and demonstrating at least 24 hours of sobriety, new members are required to give back by helping to clean and take care of the cafe. Unemployed due to the pandemic, Parker decided to become a scheduled volunteer, washing dishes in the kitchen three times a week.
The operations manager at the time saw a spark in Parker that would be better suited to bigger projects. Complimenting her strong leadership skills, the operations manager offered Parker the position of kitchen manager after just a few months.
Now, in 2023, Parker still experiences the joys of community that brought her to the cafe. “My favorite part of the job is always getting to talk with the members,” Parker said. “They’re always so kind and compliment me on the food, telling me I ought to start my own restaurant. I’m proud of the progress I’ve made thanks to their encouragement.”
As substance abuse and the housing crisis continue to be prevalent issues across the county, Parker urges those who are struggling to seek help. Clark County is lucky to have a vast community of people who truly care and want to help others get on a better life path, she said.
“Having been involved with Recovery Cafe for almost two years now, I’ve seen that change happen firsthand,” Parker said. “I’ve watched people go from one month to one year of sobriety through the help of loved ones and the fantastic team we have here at the Recovery Cafe.”
Parker is excited to see Recovery Cafe continue to grow to better serve Clark County citizens.
“I’m very grateful and blessed to be part of something that provides so much good for the community,” Parker said. “There was a long point in time where I thought the only way to improve was on my own. I’m so happy now to realize just how life-changing a strong community can be, and I’m so excited to be able to share that with others.”