Construction begins on ‘Recovery Café’

Posted 12/24/19

Construction has begun on Dove House’s Recovery Café, at 939 Kearney Street in Port Townsend.

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Construction begins on ‘Recovery Café’

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Construction has begun on Dove House’s Recovery Café, at 939 Kearney Street in Port Townsend.

Grant money allowed Dove House to purchase the building that was previously home to Candace’s Cookies last summer. Now, after the permitting process took longer than expected, construction crews can finally start work, said Brian Richardson, director of the Recovery Café.

Taking advantage of the centrality of cafés to neighborhood life, a Recovery Café offers services for substance abuse, homelessness, mental illness and trauma, building community and healing in a café-like setting.

Originally started in Seattle, Recovery Cafés are now popping up statewide as a model for treating substance abuse and addiction issues in communities, said David Uhl, director of the Recovery Café Network in Seattle.

But creating a welcoming environment takes more than just serving up coffee. Remodeling the building will help create a welcoming space, Richardson said.

“We believe everyone deserves a place where they feel valued,” he wrote in the Recovery Café’s newsletter. “The message we want to send to people who are vulnerable in our community is: We care about you and you deserve a space that’s beautiful, clean, and new.”

With the help of an architect and contractor as well as a team of volunteers, Dove House will be tearing out the drywall in the building and adding two Americans With Disabilities Act-compliant bathrooms, as well as some more windows to lighten up the space. The industrial kitchen Candace’s Cookies operated will remain, as organizers hope to provide free meals and coffee at the Recovery Café.

The entire process—with plumbing, electrical wiring and window installation to do—is expected to take about three months, Richardson said. The total cost of the remodel will be between $50,000 and $70,000.

Dove House is continuing to raise money and apply for grants to help cover the cost of the remodel and for the operational costs of the café once it opens its doors.

The best way to donate right now is through the Give Jefferson Campaign, Richardson said. He is also searching for skilled construction volunteers who are interested in helping with the remodel.

“I also know there are a lot of volunteers that aren’t able to do manual labor,” he said. “We would love emotional support and it would be great for people to help out the workers by providing food and snacks.”

Beyond that, Richardson said Dove House is beginning to do outreach in the community to let people know what the Recovery Café will offer. Leading that outreach is Ben Casserd, who is an Americorps member and in his own recovery process from homelessness and addiction.

Having lived at the American Legion shelter in the past, Casserd is reaching out to current shelter residents as well as people at the Winter Welcoming Center and those who are currently homeless and living on the streets to inform them about the Recovery Café. He has also been making connections with the local law enforcement and other agencies like Olympic Community Action Programs, DSHS, Public Health and more, to let them know they can tell clients about the Recovery Café.

“Most of the people I meet are pretty excited to see the café,” Casserd said. “I’ve been getting pretty positive feedback. A lot of people that are in need of services don’t feel there is enough services in town.”

And even those who don’t necessarily want help from local agencies will still be welcomed at the café, said Dove House director Beulah Kingsolver.

“The uniqueness of the café is that you don’t have to be looking for a particular service, it’s just a community,” she said.

The café will offer free meals, free coffee as well as peer-led support groups called Recovery Circles, classes in the School for Recovery, social activities, volunteer opportunities, and referrals to community services.

“When I began my journey of recovery, one of the biggest things I was looking for was something to be a part of and I didn’t know where I was going to find it,” Casserd said. “Loneliness is a big problem for people with mental health or addiction issues.”

The café provides a community but it also provides an opportunity to give back, something Casserd said is a big part of recovery.

In the Recovery Café system, those who use the services must also volunteer at the café, whether that is helping cook meals, serve coffee or clean.

“People feel like they’re part of something when they are able to give back,” Casserd said.

Beyond getting the word out, Richardson is also looking for monthly donors—people who wish to donate an amount each month to help with the daily operations of the café. This allows the café to have a more stable funding base in the future, he said.

“We’re very excited and really grateful for all the support we’ve gotten from the community so far,” Richardson said.

Those who want to learn more about donating or volunteering for the café remodel can contact Richardson at brianr@dovehousejc.org. Those who want to learn more about the Recovery Café services can contact Casserd at rcamericorps@dovehousejc.org, or by calling Dove House at 360-385-5291.

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