Dove House plans to launch Recovery Cafe

Posted 1/30/19

Dove House Advocacy Services is bringing a Recovery Cafe to Jefferson County.

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Dove House plans to launch Recovery Cafe


Dove House Advocacy Services is bringing a Recovery Cafe to Jefferson County.

Recovery cafes are spaces where people recovering from substance abuse, homelessness, mental illness and trauma can find community and healing in a cafe-like setting.

County commissioners approved an allocation of $45,000 on Jan. 28 from the Hargrove Fund  — for mental health and substance abuse funding — to Dove House in 2019 for the program.

With a $50,000 matching grant from the Seattle-based Recovery Cafe Network, Dove House is halfway to its fundraising goal for the cafe.

“It’s a recovery community center,” said Brian Richardson, who is leading the project. “It’s a place to be safe and sober, and to grow as a human being. It’s not treatment, and it’s not a self-help meeting, like a 12-step recovery group. It is its own type of recovery community organization.”

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

“In 2004, Recovery Cafe opened its doors in Belltown and quickly outgrew its space,” Uhl said. “We moved to a bigger space in 2009, and around that time, we started to have different groups from around the state say, ‘We need what you’re doing in our community.’”

Now the Recovery Cafe Network helps communities build their own versions of the Recovery Cafe. They support each one with funding and with materials for creating the space and the programs.

“You walk in, and it does look like a coffee shop,” Richardson said. “Anyone is welcome to come and attend to check it out two or three times, and then they can be invited to be a member.”

Members of the Recovery Cafe must be sober for at least 24 hours, attend a “Recovery Circle” peer-led group meeting once a week, and contribute to the community, either by volunteering in the kitchen, helping clean up, or by wiping down tables.

“That’s how we maintain this community where everyone feels invested,” Richardson said. “There are basic expectations for being in the space. One of them is to be sober. But that is managed in the most loving way possible … The reason we’re doing this is because we believe that everyone deserves a sense of love and belonging. Everyone deserves a sense of community that they can call their own, and everyone deserves to be treated with dignity and respect.”

The Recovery Cafe follows a “radical hospitality” model, Richardson said. That means anyone, regardless of their situation, is allowed to be in the space as long as they are contributing.

The community, in partnership with social service providers and volunteers, provides support and resources along an individual’s pathway of recovery.

“When someone gets out of treatment, it can be a very lonely place,” Uhl said. “Many have burned bridges with their family or friends. People would often relapse because of loneliness. Recovery Cafe is a place where people can make new, healthy relationships.”

Dove House is beginning to search for a space to host  a Recovery Cafe. Richardson said they are deciding between Port Townsend and Port Hadlock.

“There are challenges to finding a space for this,” Richardson said. “We would have to make sure we have all of our permitting correct for the county and the state, and then we would also have the space be adequately zoned and have either septic or sewer that could have that kind of business use. Those are some barriers we could run into.”

Being in Port Townsend brings a benefit of being close to other social services, such Discovery Behavioral Health Services, Jefferson Health Cafe and the county courthouse.

“But a lot of the clients, whether they’re homeless or not, are actually living further south in the county,” Richardson said. “That’s where it’s more affordable to live.”

Regardless of where the cafe is located, Richardson said he sees a major need for the space in the county.

“I’ve worked in social services for six years now,” he said. “I counsel people in addiction recovery, and through those clients, I’ve seen quite a bit of need in terms of just needing a space to be.”

Dove House also is searching for more funding.

“We are working with a realtor and looking at all options,” Richardson said. “We would love to open our doors in May.”