Creating a sense of home and community at Recovery Café Chicago

When Gilda Payton first met La Shaun Rickman, Founder/CEO of Recovery Café Chicago, she was heartbroken and navigating trauma.

“My brother was killed in front of me,” she said. But after meeting Mrs. Rickman and joining the community, “…I was able to get to the next stage. It let me know that I’m not the only one out there suffering. Everyone’s recovering from something.”

Creating the first Recovery Café in Illinois

Mrs. Rickman has been actively building healing communities and connecting neighbors to resources, long before she found the Recovery Café Model. She co-founded Brighter, Behavior Choices Inc., NFP in May of 2006 to create a space for people to access resources for affordable housing, employment, and recovery.

“What keeps me going and wanting to stay involved in Recovery Café Chicago is that we’re applying hope, healing and structure to individuals who have been stricken, torn from what they loved,” Mrs. Rickman said.

This commitment carries through in how Mrs. Rickman creates a warm and welcoming space for newcomers and long-term Members.

“When I first walked into the Café I was like, wow. It was beautiful,” Payton said. “I’ve never seen anything like that, where it was so comfortable. You feel the spirit because you know you’re in the right place.”

Recovery is a community effort

Sharnique Seuell is a newer Member, but even after just four months’ involvement in the Café, she feels more grounded.

“It’s like home – I don’t feel like a client but just a regular human being. It allows me to be exactly who I am.” Seuell said.

RC Chicago walks alongside a dedicated and tight group of Members, but through partnerships they extend their reach into the broader community. Over the holidays, RC Chicago partnered with four other organizations to distribute 200 meals. Members are an integral part of these partnerships, helping distribute meals and contribute back. This sense of contribution extends out far beyond the Café.

“I’m able to educate my family and friends on those things as well. A lot of my friends (weren’t) aware of therapy and they’re in therapy now.” Seuell said. “As I’ve gotten better everything around me has gotten better”

Since connecting with Mrs. Rickman, Payton started working toward getting an associates degree in behavioral science, with her sights set on becoming a recovery coach.

“Everything I learn at the Café I take home. My kids are proud of me.” Payton said, “I love life today.”

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(All photos provided courtesy of Recovery Café Chicago)