A Reflection by Faire Holliday, Program Manager
On my first day at Recovery Café Longmont, we officially closed our doors because of the social distancing requirements around the coronavirus. When I arrived, staff gloved up and headed outside with a box full of sack lunches. We knew this was going to be our last day to engage with our Members for a while, and though saddened by this knowledge, we hoped that we could talk to our Members face to face and let them know that we weren’t giving up on them or forgetting about them. We’d be back in service again as soon as we safely could.
Where is everyone? we asked that day after experiencing a slow trickle of Members coming by to grab a lunch. And we asked again as Becky, our new manager of hospitality (who started just the week before I did), began calling our Members. Where is everyone? And then again, as staff drove through the eerily quiet streets of Longmont: Where are our friends? Are they going to survive this? Are they staying healthy? Are they staying sober? Are they getting the support they need?
Learning to adapt
That’s the million dollar question: how do we support people during this time? Our mission is to build a loving and healing community for people in recovery. How do we do that during a time of mass social isolation? The honest answer is that we do the best we can from a distance.
Since shifting to be a virtual community, we’ve talked on the phone for more than eleven hours with our Members. We’ve held ten Virtual Recovery Circles and seven School for Recovery classes. We’ve mailed cards and craft supplies. We’ve opened up our virtual doors to the broader community so that anyone who needs support can call us and find connection.
Operating this way is a challenge. Some of our most vulnerable Members are the ones we are having trouble reaching. Some don’t have phones or access to the internet. Others have fallen out of contact with us, and we don’t know why. While we are thankful to be in touch with some of our Members, we worry about what’s happening to the others. We are aware how difficult this time is for our Members because they are disproportionately impacted by the economic, health and social disruptions from the coronavirus as many also struggle with mental health, homelessness and additional life challenges.
We also understand that virtual connection isn’t the same. It’s a palm pressed against the glass when what you really need is someone to hold your hand. It’s not the same… but it is something.
In every culture in the world, stories abound about a small thing that changes the direction of a person’s life. That’s been our goal from the start: not to be everything, but to be a small thing that makes a big difference.
Still a healing community
Of all the things our Members have shared with us during this time, one sentiment emerges over and over: They are so grateful we are reaching out to them. They are so happy to be a part of such a wonderful community. They can’t wait to return to Recovery Café Longmont when this is all over.
On this #GivingTuesdayNow, we are grateful for all of the little things that have made a big difference in the lives of our Members, our own lives and in our organization. We know there is a need for our services throughout the crisis and in the aftermath. We are so thankful for all you give — whether it’s time, money, or enduring love and support. Your gift ensures that not only are we here now, but we’ll also be here at the end of this crisis with our doors open wide ready to provide refuge and healing — in PERSON!!