Spotlight: Two coffee shops, one vision
A recently opened coffee shop in Fargo, North Dakota, is serving up hope one cup at a time.
“We are using the tagline, ‘Come for coffee, leave with hope,” said Patti Senn, founder of Soul Solutions Recovery Center in Fargo.
It’s the same slogan used by the Hope & Coffee in Tamaqua, which Senn used as a model for the shop by the same name.
And just like Tamaqua, Hope & Coffee-Fargo’s goal is to be a visible symbol of recovery. It also offers employment opportunities to those recovering from addictions.
“Stories of addiction are everywhere in our community. They’re in the news and in conversations with friends, co-workers, etc. We want to elevate the discussion on recovery as well,” Senn explained.
Senn has worked as an addiction counselor for more than 20 years. In December, she opened Soul Solutions Recovery Center. Hope & Coffee Fargo followed on March 11.
Her story is similar to that of Lisa Scheller, founder of Hope & Coffee in Tamaqua and president and chairman of Silberline Manufacturing, a Tamaqua-based manufacturing firm and global supplier of metallic pigments.
Scheller has been in recovery for almost 40 years. Senn got sober in 1994.
“I decided to become part of the solution and turn what was my weakness into my strength somewhere around mid-2016 as I watched the opioid epidemic ravage this country. I knew I could help by shedding my own self-inflicted stigma,” Scheller said. “I thought I would provide a place where people could attend meetings because meetings are the foundation of long-term recovery.”
She pitched her vision to Micah Gursky, executive director of the Tamaqua Area Community Partnership, who agreed that Tamaqua had too many bars and not enough coffee shops.
“And that’s how the idea of a coffee shop employing addicts in early recovery came into being. It was thrilling to watch the metamorphosis of the 1865 rundown home into the beautiful shop it is now,” she said of the 137 Pine St. property that underwent extensive renovations. “(It is) a metaphor for the lives that are impacted by Hope & Coffee.”
The Tamaqua site opened in 2018.
Meanwhile, Senn was thinking about opening a treatment center in Fargo.
“I knew I wanted to do something innovative and unique in our community, something that didn’t ‘just’ offer treatment,” Senn explained. “I started researching what other communities were doing in terms of recovery.”
She stumbled upon Hope & Coffee while searching the internet. She spoke to Gursky, who invited her to visit.
Senn flew to Pennsylvania in the fall of 2018.
“Micah and Lisa were very gracious with their time and very supportive of our dream of opening a recovery coffee shop,” Senn said.
Scheller was “thrilled” to host Senn in Tamaqua - and Gursky even gifted her with Hope & Coffee-Fargo sweatshirts.
Senn kept in contact with the two, knowing that “their mission of reducing the stigma of addiction, promoting recovery, and employing people in recovery fits very well with our overall vision.”
Senn’s vision was realized with the December opening of Soul Solutions. Hope & Coffee followed suit.
“It’s a space for people to gather. We are the only nonprofit coffee shop in the area. People can put together a puzzle, play a game, watch TV or read a book,” Senn said.
Those who’ve visited have told her that it’s a much-needed gathering spot, and a place where they feel welcome.
“That they decided to adopt our ideas to their community recovery center evokes so many emotions for me: gratitude, humility, excitement among many,” Scheller said. “It brings me great satisfaction that I am helping people live productive, happy, sober lives.”
Scheller plans to visit, joking that she’s willing to travel 2,000 miles for a good cup of coffee.
“I wish Patti and the community of Fargo the greatest of success, not only with Hope & Coffee, but also with their new recovery center. My wish is for those entering the workforce through Hope & Coffee learn the joy of long-term recovery and those who are customers understand that addiction and recovery should not be stigmatized,” Scheller said. “We are mothers, brothers, friends, co-workers, and sons just like everyone else but with a disease. We can recover and become part of society and our gratitude for our recovery typically comes through in how we live our lives.”
Gursky and Scheller hope to see more Hope & Coffee shops.
“From the time Lisa Scheller started formulating the idea of Hope & Coffee as a way to support and normalize recovery while providing employment opportunities, we discussed developing it as something that can be replicated in any community where there are employment issue and unfair stigma,” Gursky explained. “That’s every community - large and small, rural and urban. Every day Tamaqua demonstrates that this model works, and we were happy to work with Fargo over the past 4 years to help them bring their dream come to life.”