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Hope and Coffee: Tamaqua shop grows out of effort to bring community together, support those affected by opioid crisis

Hope — it’s what keeps us going in our darkest hours, in our worst of times.

It’s what the family and friends of addicts need as they deal with the ravages brought by the current opioid crisis. It’s something everyone needs to continue pushing forward, especially the addicts themselves.

A new initiative in Tamaqua is being created in an effort to restore that hope, spearheaded by Lisa Scheller, chairman of Silberline Manufacturing, and the Tamaqua Area Community Partnership, the nonprofit charity that started the art center.

“Hope and Coffee” is a new business enterprise being created at 137 Pine St., Tamaqua. Scheller sees it as a response to two needs, “a place where the community can come together to support recovering addicts and a good coffee shop.”

“I grew up in Tamaqua,” Scheller says. “There are a lot of good things happening in my hometown. While aware of the opioid drug issue, I really didn’t understand the magnitude of the opioid abuse affecting the community until two years ago when STEP-Up Tamaqua was created. It seems as if everyone is being personally impacted by the issue. We all know of someone who is suffering due to drug abuse, whether it’s through family, friends or co-workers. Lives are being negatively impacted.”

The beginning

STEP-Up Tamaqua started in 2016 with a public forum led by Todd Zimmerman, an adjunct professor at Lehigh Carbon Community College. It quickly grew through the backing of groups like the partnership, Safer Streets for Tamaqua’s Little Feet, the Tamaqua Area Faith and Fellowship Network and Skook Recovers. A STEP-Up Raiders chapter soon followed at Tamaqua Area High School. The name stands for Support, Treatment, Education and Prevention.

Through monthly meetings and dozens of community events, organizers discovered the need for daily support for those in recovery, whether from drugs or alcohol. They also learned of the need for job opportunities for those in recovery as well as finding a location where people could go to socialize and have fun without being exposed to alcohol.

Micah Gursky, partnership member, explains, “The students of STEP-Up Raiders brought up the need for an alcohol-free place to socialize, while adults were looking for a coffee shop.”

Lisa (Scheller) was looking for ways to support efforts to normalize recovery and to help those in long-term recovery. That’s how the Hope and Coffee Shop idea was born.”

Hope blossoms

During the last two short years, a lot of progress has been made, but despite their many efforts to change public perception of addiction, there is still a certain stigma attached to those who fall into drug abuse. It’s that perception that Scheller and other recovering addicts hope to change.

“This concept is community driven, I can’t stress that enough,” she says. “The addiction problem affects everyone in the community. The solution involves all of us. We need to find ways to help each other. The community needs to embrace recovery and support people trying to recover. I know it’s not easy, but it is possible, made easier by the support of family, friends and the community.”

Scheller will share her personal story of hope and recovery at an April 6 celebration and fundraiser, from 6 to 7:30 p.m., at the Tamaqua Community Art Center, 125 Pine St., Tamaqua. “I’m looking forward to sharing my story, but even more to serving the best coffee and sticky buns in the area in a cozy, relaxing, welcoming European-style cafe.”

For more information on the fundraiser or sponsorship opportunities, call 570-668-1192.

This somewhat dilapidated house at 137 Pine St. in Tamaqua is undergoing a transformation into a European-style coffee house, which will be named Hope and Coffee in Tamaqua. The endeavor is part of the Tamaqua Area Community Partnership’s efforts to address the issue of addiction. It will provide employment opportunities for recovering addicts, as well as provide support to them in their ongoing recovery efforts. KATHY KUNKEL/TIMES NEWS
Lisa Scheller, president of Silberline Manufacturing, is spearheading the creation of a coffee shop in Tamaqua designed to support addiction recovery efforts. Hope and Coffee will be located at 137 Pine St., Tamaqua, and will offer the community a cozy, relaxing, welcoming atmosphere to enjoy what Scheller says will be the “best coffee and sticky buns in the area.” A fundraising and sponsorship event with details on the shop will be held from 6 to 7:30 p.m. April 6, at the Tamaqua Community Art Center, 125 Pine St., Tamaqua. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO