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Everett Recovery Cafe uses camaraderie, care to lift people from addiction and homelessness

EVERETT — Behind these doors, people’s lives are changing.
Conversations are taking place. Transformation is occurring.
The Everett Recovery Cafe is a drop-in space to help people exit from drug use, alcoholism, homelessness, mental instability and the simple funk of isolation.
People come to chat in small groups called recovery circles. The cafe always has coffee and holds lunches. Personal recovery coaches are around to talk when you’re comfortable. On Friday nights, there’s an open mic time.
Anyone can enter the doors once. All it takes to continue getting lunches and services is to also agree to pursuing help.
About 150 people currently participate, director Wendy Grove said, but that’s fewer than pre-pandemic levels.
A majority of people who come to the cafe are unhoused or in recovery housing (such as an Oxford House).
Its organizers seek to secure assistance with multiple needs for its participants. Grove has a list of employers who hire employees with past drug felonies, for example.
Johnny Kasey said the cafe gives a safe place to be able to talk about where you want to go in life. He’s seen a lot of friends who went through drug court come to the cafe.
Word of mouth one way people learn of the cafe.
Going to the cafe makes him accountable to himself, he said. He’s gone a year since his last relapse. The camaraderie and guidance seems to be part of what’s kept him staying strong and focused.
The cafe trains members to be volunteer coaches, which Kasey just leveled up to last week.


Michael Whitney photo

Members Sara Carr and Johnny Kasey and the cafe’s operations director Sarah Brooks pose for a photo after eating lunch in the brightly lit main room of Everett Recovery Cafe.

The cafe’s 23 or so volunteer Recovery Coaches today are trained to help others navigate the system for help.
A lot of the coaches have experience with addiction, so it’s meaningful to newcomers that the coaches have already “walked the walk,” said Sarah Brooks, a facilitator and leader who was the cafe’s first employee.
For members with mental health needs, the cafe arranges to have professionals come meet with the people, Brooks said.
The cafe has trained more than 300 coaches over the past six years, Brooks said.
Becoming a coach also opens access to state-funded vouchers for housing and personal needs, Brooks said.
The cafe is not faith-based, and no proselytizing is allowed. The emphasis, and perhaps the golden rule, is to cast no judgements on others.
“People come in here with a sense of failure and shame, and it is because of society’s approach to viewing it,” Wendy Grove said. “It is letting them see value as they are valuable (people).”
David Ludden of Everett volunteers his time to listen. A former alcoholic who’s been clean since 2002, he has nothing to hide but plenty of advice to share.
Ludden shares his time because people trying to recover need to be able to talk with people who can relate with the experience, he reasoned. Secluding yourself does the opposite when breaking from an addiction, he said.
Everett’s Recovery Cafe started six years ago and it is patterned after the wider Recovery Cafe system.
The Cafe opened the doors to its new home March 5. Its open hours are noon to 4 p.m. at 1212 California St., Everett, one block north of Hewitt off of a side alley at the back end of the Everett Public Market building.
During the pandemic, the cafe held its hour-long recovery circle chats on Zoom. Online will continue as an option, Grove said.
More than 80 percent of the people who visit come back again, from what cafe floor manager April Echauri said she’s seen. The daily rosters show the same.
“This is meant for members — people who want to commit,” Joey Roberts, the operations manager, said.
Chef Jeff West prepares soups, stews and a rotating menu for all in the cafe’s full commercial kitchen. Variety is a given: Much of the food is donated, West said.
The cafe ran from a small house on Broadway to start. After the house on Broadway, the nonprofit migrated to the United Church of Christ on Rockefeller Avenue.
The church was nice “but it didn’t feel like home,” staffer John Reardon said.
They found the space in the market in 2018 and got into months of extensive renovation. Some might remember the space as Bar Myx, Twisted Nightclub or any of its predecessors dating to the late 1980s. Scott Benham and Scott Wammack of Grandview Homes conducted a whole overhaul.
There’s still work to do, but “it was important for us to open,” said project manager Mike Grove.
They can’t stop, considering addiction is relentless.
Ludden described recovery as an escalator: “It’s like walking down an up escalator — if you don’t stop going, you go backwards.”
The cafe hopes more people in need will become aware and come for help.

Reach the cafe
The cafe’s website is www.everettrecoverycafe.org and it is on Facebook.
Its phone number is 425-258-5630.

 

  

 

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Original contents copyrighted by Mach Publishing (Snohomish County Tribune), all rights reserved

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