Laughter spills from the kitchen as member, Mary, and peer support specialist, Felicia, wash dishes after lunch. In classic Mary style, she is telling jokes and sharing stories all with the hopes of making the people around her feel joy. When asked what her favorite thing in the Café, her immediate response is “to laugh, and make people laugh.” And Mary is an expert at putting smiles on everyone’s face.
Mary came to the Café on a recommendation from a former case worker. She needed a place that would respect her recovery story, as well as help her finish hours for probation. Her first day, she was nervous to even come inside. It wasn’t until she connected with Felicia outside, that she was able to make her way down the stairs and into the Café.
Now, Mary is a regular. She comes at least twice a week, and most weeks far more than that. When her partner asked her if she will continue even after her probation is completed, she laughed and said, “This place is like ‘Cheers’ everybody is happier there, and that is how I feel here. Of course I will keep coming back!”
Taking the first step into the Café is often the hardest part for our members. Many of them have never experienced anything like the Recovery Café, and that can be intimidating at first.
Because every recovery journey is unique, everyone needs a welcoming and supportive community. That is what Mary has found here.
“The Café feels like a family. I have somewhere to be, people like me and notice when I am gone.”
For Mary, it was her immediate connection to Felicia that made her comfortable enough to come in. Now, she has a circle of people that support her. “Before, it was just Felicia because she caught my attention first. Now I feel like I could talk to any of you.”
Much like Mary, many of our members came to the Café to have a place that will meet them wherever they are. Recovery Café was founded on the principle of radical hospitality and with the understanding that every person — no matter their past — is worthy of giving and receiving love. Each day here in the Café our members, staff and volunteers welcome all people who want to work on their recovery including those who have experienced homelessness, addiction, mental health challenges, and any other struggle or trauma we experience in our lives.
When people have a welcoming and supportive community that provides loving accountability, their recovery journey becomes less challenging. Everyone deserves a place to celebrate wins, find support for the losses, to be known, and to be loved.