What does it take to start a Recovery Café?

I write this from Tallahassee, Florida where I am staying with family. Recently, they asked me what the Recovery Café Network looks for when a group expresses interest in bringing a Recovery Café to their community. While I hope that means that perhaps one may be coming to Tallahassee, I thought I would share my thoughts on what makes for an ideal implementer.

First, we are looking for a dedicated group of at least three individuals willing to put in the hard work to do what it takes to open the doors of a Recovery Café and keep them open. Even if this core group has an army of volunteers, a board, and abundant resources, it is the dedication of this core group that needs to be unwavering during setbacks and sharing the joy with the larger community during successes.

This core group above all else is committed to the Guiding Principles shared by every Recovery Café:
• Connect with divine Love in ourselves and others.
• Show respect.
• Cultivate compassion.
• Practice forgiveness.
• Encourage growth.
• Give Back.


Second, when we are looking at this core group, we have come to learn that four types of experience make this group a good fit to join the Network :

• Fundraising – At least one member of the core group needs fundraising experience. This person needs to be able to ask for resources, pursue opportunities from a variety of sources, and be free in hearing no when they make an ask. It is ideal if more than one person in the core group has fundraising experience, but at least one person needs to be bold in inviting the community to put their weight down with the Café’s mission and vision.
• Administration – This is where the rubber meets the road for many Recovery Cafés. The core group needs to include someone who has nonprofit administration experience. This is the vitally important but unromantic part of each Café’s work. This includes focusing on HR and payroll, insurance, legal compliance, and contracts. This core group member must possess a strong eye for detail and a strong character.
• Program – Each core group needs someone who has implemented programs before, preferably in the human services or recovery services field. This is the person responsible for bringing the Café community to life, from food and beverage service and Recovery Circles to classes and activities. We aren’t looking for a living saint by means, but it helps if this person possesses patience in bucket loads that they can share with others.
• Leadership – Bringing this all together is someone that can focus the core group on their vision. Each of the three above is good in and of themselves, but this is the core group member that can move the project forward, and that can draw out strengths and unite everyone around a common goal that makes a Café successful. Originally, we only focused on the first three but realized that committed and experienced leadership was an essential element every core group needed.


Does your nonprofit organization, group of inspired citizens, or faith community have a core group with these skills and commitment to the Guiding Principles?

We would love to talk to you about how we walk alongside you in bringing this healing gathering space to your community. If you are from Tallahassee, I would especially love to talk with you.

Visit our website to submit an inquiry form and get the conversation started!

Or email me directly at David.Uhl@recoverycafenetwork.org