by Michael Schut, Communications Manager, Recovery Café Network
Just talking with Naketa, over Zoom even, is a joyful experience—which makes sense for someone who says she couldn’t believe she would be getting paid to “love on people.”
Naketa serves as the Coordinator for Recovery Café Kokomo (Indiana). Her gratitude and joy for her work influences all that she and her colleagues plan there at the Café, including their monthly special events. One of their goals is to provide experiences that help participants feel they are getting to do what those with a “decent income” get to do.
In their community outreach, Recovery Café Kokomo asks those they get to know, “What are five things that you would like or need?” (They post those requests on Facebook so that volunteers can potentially respond.)
Those requests also feed into one of their Café’s special events: an annual holiday party. One 21-year-old had shared that he’d really like a certain skateboard. At the party, Santa showed up with that skateboard. Naketa also spoke about an un-housed gentleman struggling with schizophrenia who had asked for some shoes. A volunteer responded, and bought a pair of black Nike Air Force sneakers for him. Seeing his new shoes, the man started crying.
In one way these seem like small, potentially insignificant moments in a person’s life. But, like all Cafés seek to do, Kokomo is “loving on” their community—not primarily through gifts at the holidays, but through all the Café’s events, Recovery Circles, meals, connections, and conversations. Over time, we trust, people start feeling, “This is a place where I am safe and seen, where I want to hang out. A place I want to give back to, too.”
In addition to their holiday party, the Café’s recent outings included trips to a roller-skating rink, a bowling alley, and a paint ball park.
But the Café’s big event, which they are already planning for, is this coming fall’s prom. For those who don’t feel they have something snazzy to wear, the Café plans to pick up dresses and suits at Goodwill over the next six months. They plan to crown a “king and queen of recovery” and the Café will also likely ask a Member or two to share what the prom means to them. The team already has a DJ lined up, is dreaming about the food they’ll serve, and planning the decorations—all those things that communicate to those who attend Kokomo’s prom, and other special events, “You are loved.”
Thank you to Naketa Catchings for sharing these snapshots of Recovery Café Kokomo’s community. We will make sure to ask for pictures of the prom—and share them with all of you!