by Mike Schut, Communications Manager
Recovery Cafés hold certain core beliefs as foundational. Beliefs and practices that become brick and mortar, that become a front desk and a warm welcome. Beliefs and practices that help you know, when you walk in, that you’re in a familiar place: a Recovery Café.
One of those core beliefs is that all need to be deeply known and loved; another is that communities of radical hospitality are in and of themselves healing spaces.
All of which raises a question all Cafés have faced: how to flourish when forced apart by a global pandemic, especially when the core beliefs are so tied to being together in healing community spaces?
Of course, the Recovery Café Network (RCN) faced a similar question: how do we nurture and build relationships with each Café when separated by the pandemic? New Cafés, what we call Emerging Member Cafés, traditionally host an evaluation visit by RCN staff as they work toward becoming Full Members. Those evaluation visits have been on hold for over two years.
Recovery Café Lexington Visit
Now, for the first time since the pandemic started, RCN staff have started visiting Cafés again—and we couldn’t be more excited and grateful! In July, Ricky and Ashley flew to Lexington, Kentucky. Their trip—which included time to celebrate Lexington’s achievements and community presence, time to build connections, and time to collaboratively evaluate RC Lexington’s readiness to graduate from Emerging Member to Full Member—felt like a significant turn toward normalcy, toward being together again.
And to hear Ricky and Ashley tell about it is to know that when they walked in to Recovery Café (RC) Lexington they immediately recognized where they were. They knew that the board and staff and Members had been able to flourish and had nurtured a healing community during these challenging years.
A Beautiful Space: You Matter
RC Lexington’s space is beautiful with its light blues and yellows and splashes of orange. The space profoundly welcomes all with the small rainbow flags and the bowl of brightly colored pronoun pins (She/Her They/Them…) that Members and guests don when they arrive. The space says “relax, stay a while” through the comfortable chairs and bookshelves and coffee station. The space celebrates Members with displays of Member artwork.
All Recovery Cafés seek to create beautiful, welcoming, safe physical spaces which convey the message that “You matter; your wellbeing matters.” Especially for those on society’s margins, such messages need repeating. And Lexington’s space does just that. Even more than the space, though, that message is born out in the radical hospitality Ricky and Ashley received from RC Lexington’s staff, Members, and volunteers.
We’re delighted to announce that Recovery Café Lexington has graduated to Full Member status within the Network! It feels like a miracle anytime a small group of people come together with a shared sense of call to create communities of loving accountability, hospitality, and care for those on the recovery journey—and then are able to turn that call into a space of such warm, inclusive welcome like RC Lexington has done.
Thank you to all those in Lexington who, in the words of their own vision statement, empower “people in their own recovery with a welcoming, community-driven sanctuary to connect with one another, heal, feel accepted, loved, and worthy of success in their life.”
While highlighting RC Lexington as the first Café to move from Emerging to Full Member since the pandemic, we also want to celebrate the simple fact that we can carry on with evaluation visits once again! Ruby Takushi, cofounder of the Recovery Café Network, recently visited RC Indy and RC Lafayette (both in Indiana). RC Jefferson County (Washington) and RC Longmont (Colorado) are due to be evaluated soon.
With this warm recognition of RC Lexington’s graduation to Full Member status, all of us on the Network team send our gratitude to all of you seeking to embody the love and hospitality so characteristic of the Recovery Café model. To those reading this who might be interested in learning more about joining the Network, we invite you to contact us at info@recoverycafénetwork.org or visit our website here.
Pictured at the top of this piece are six of RC Lexington’s leaders: Aaron Guldenschuh-Gatten, Assistant Executive Director; Jerry Miller, former Operations Specialist; Jody Cain, Lead Recovery Coach; Jennifer Francis, Community Volunteer; Kara Brown-Floyd, Café Manager; Jason Robinson, Executive Director. Below is another shot of their colorful interior and one of the garden.