‘WE CAN DO THIS’: As Recovery Cafe opens, those who have struggled offer a message of hope

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GREENFIELD — More than 70 people packed the house at The Landing Place this week to celebrate the opening of the Recovery Cafe.

The wall-to-wall crowd included pastors, first-responders, nonprofit executives and mental health experts, as well as a number of leaders in the field of addiction and recovery.

They all came together to celebrate the official opening of the cafe, which offers recovery support by providing a warm meal and recovery resources while fostering sober relationships.

The cafe is now open from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Tuesdays and 2-7 p.m. Thursdays. All are welcome but must be free of substance abuse for 24 hours prior to attending.

A team of trained counselors and volunteers will be on hand to offer fellowship and recovery support, no matter what they’re struggling with — addiction, grief, trauma or other obstacles.

“It’s so important to have this type of operation in our community,” said Greenfield Mayor Chuck Fewell, who thanked both local and state leaders for working together to bring the cafe to Greenfield.

The Recovery Cafe is a result of a partnership more than two years in the making between The Landing Place and We Bloom, an Indianapolis-based nonprofit that has contracted with the Indiana Division of Mental Health and Addiction to plant the cafes in communities throughout the state.

“I can’t think of a better way to start the new year than by opening another Recovery Cafe,” said Doug Huntsinger, director of Drug Prevention, Treatment and Enforcement for the office of Gov. Eric Holcomb.

“In 2020, Indiana had two cafes. Now we have 10, with more opening in the next few months,” he told the crowd on Tuesday, Jan. 4.

Hancock County Council member Keely Butrum, who has served on the local Recovery Cafe’s planning committee, spoke of her own addiction and sobriety journey when reflecting on how essential the cafe can be for those who are struggling.

“When you go to get sober, it’s a long haul,” Butrum said.

“People (in recovery) need peer support, because you do feel all alone. You think everybody uses, or everyone who doesn’t use thinks you’re a bottom-of-the-barrel human. You really do need to go somewhere and hear other people say, ‘I know where you’ve been, I was there too.’ Or, ‘Hey, I’m just getting started like you are. We can do this,’” she said.

The Recovery Cafe will provide that peer support and companionship that are so crucial to recovery, Butrum said.

The cafe will also help people learn how to spend their newly sober time, which she said is a crucial lesson.

“People (in recovery) have a lot of time to fill,” Butrum said. “When I got sober, I had 60 to 70 hours a week I spent using…. What do you do with 60 to 70 hours a week? That’s where the Recovery Cafe comes in,” she said.

The cafe will offer a variety of classes teaching life skills and pastimes, from car maintenance and cooking to yoga and knitting.

Butrum encourages those in the audience Tuesday to consider teaching a class doing something they enjoy. She also encouraged everyone to spread the word about the cafe, so that those who need it know how to find it.

“The grassroots spreading of this is what’s going to make it thrive,” she said, adding that the room full of people who work in addiction recovery, mental health, churches and emergency services are the perfect people to advocate for the center.

Beth Kreitl, We Bloom’s executive director and the Midwest regional catalyst for the Recovery Cafe Network, also attended the opening ceremony. She said she’s never seen a community as driven and intentional about establishing a cafe to their community than Greenfield.

Kreitl, along with several other speakers, praised the leadership efforts of Linda Ostewig, who founded The Landing Place in 2014 and was the driving force behind bringing a Recovery Cafe to Greenfield.

Ostewig said she’s assembled what she calls a “powerhouse team” of individuals who will personally support each person who walks through the cafe’s doors, no matter what struggle they’re facing.

Brandon George, vice president of Mental Health America of Indiana, and the Indiana Recovery Network, said he first met Ostewig when he shared his own sobriety journey with a group gathered at The Landing Place.

He said he’s learned a lot by witnessing Ostewig’s leadership in bringing the Recovery Cafe to Greenfield, and that her efforts will serve as a model for future Recovery Cafe communities to follow.

“I’m going to keep learning from you, and the rest of the state will as well,” he said Tuesday.

Hancock County Circuit Court Judge Scott Sirk said he thinks of Ostewig as the local version of George Bailey in the movie “It’s a Wonderful Life,” who was beloved by all for the tremendous impact he made on his community.

“I think we are fortunate that Greenfield is Linda’s Bedford Falls,” he said, referring to the fictional character’s hometown.

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