Recovery Cafe wants to be a space for healing

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GREENFIELD — At the new Recovery Cafe planned in Greenfield, visitors won’t just be picking up coffee and a bagel. Run by the nonprofit The Landing Place, the space will invite those struggling with a variety of life challenges to gather together for support groups, community meals, classes and more.

“We get them with the food and keep them with the love,” said Beth Kreitl, who’s helping bring the Recovery Cafe model to Hancock County.

The Landing Place, 18 W. South St., plans to begin offering the new program in October. It will be membership-based and open to both adults and teenagers.

There are only a few requirements for membership: New members need to be drug- and alcohol-free for 24 hours; they must participate weekly in groups called “recovery circles”; and they must give back to the community by volunteering.

Through that, they also gain access to a number of resources and classes that are intended to help them make positive life changes. For example, members can participate in a seven-week culinary training course through the nonprofit Second Helpings in Indianapolis. Peer recovery specialists facilitate group conversations and other programming.

Kreitl and Kevin Espirito are the co-founders of the organization We Bloom, which helps start recovery cafes in Indiana and around the country. Other locations include Indianapolis, Lafayette, Muncie and Fulton County. In Hancock County, the program will be funded for the first two years by a state grant, later by donations and corporate partnerships.

Kreitl said recovery doesn’t just mean recovering from addiction by stopping the use of drugs and alcohol. There are other challenges, she said, that people need help recovering from, including things like mental health issues, homelessness, incarceration, divorce or even loneliness.

“Any of those recovery challenges qualify you to be part of the cafe,” she said. “We practice radical hospitality, so each and every one of you could be part of the cafe in some way.”

The program also takes an accepting approach to the other methods members use in their recovery, welcoming those participating in 12-step programs, faith-based organizations and traditional therapy, among others.

Linda Ostewig, director of The Landing Place, said she’s excited about the opportunities offered by the new program. The Landing Place already offers a variety of support programs for young people battling addiction and other life challenges.

“My heart and soul is for people who struggle in their lives, primarily in addiction and substance abuse, but in any area of their life, and my young people in our county, they need something like this,” Ostewig said. “We need sober events, we need to have a building where people can come and bring their family.”

Kreitl said one of the most important objectives of the recovery cafe is to provide long-term support to its members, helping connect them with a community that will be there for them when they need it.

“We really want every person to have the experience of being deeply known and deeply loved,” she said.

When members join, they fill out a survey with questions about their employment, mental and physical health, housing and more. They answer the same questions again after ninety days, six months, a year and then annually going forward. That data helps track outcomes for individuals, but Krietl said positive results can also be seen through communitywide metrics like decreasing arrests and emergency room visits.

Brent Eaton, who is the chair of The Landing Place board as well as the Hancock County prosecutor, said he expects the program to have a positive image on the community as a whole.

“Sobriety is good for public safety,” Eaton said. “Generally speaking, when people are sober, they’re substantially less likely to have to go visit the sheriff… One of the real problems that we see and one of the things we’re looking at is that a lot of the criminal incidents that we see and a lot of the calls we receive are a direct result of substance use incidents or mental health incidents.”

Eaton said it can be days or weeks before local law enforcement can connect people involved in those incidents with programs that can help, and he’s hoping the Recovery Cafe can help close that gap.

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There are a few different ways to get involved with the Recovery Cafe, from becoming a member or a “café companion” who spends time with members to helping facilitate classes and workshops. Local nonprofits are also invited to become partner agencies to which the cafe can refer members for other services. For more information, contact the Landing Place through its website at www.thelandingplacehc.com.

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