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Scheller receives Entrepreneur of the Year honor

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    Lisa Scheller received the Entrepreneur of the Year award recently. From left, Cynthia Mensch, awards committee chairwoman; Jamie Barton; Lisa Scheller; Edward Keyworth III, Schuylkill Chamber of Commerce chairman; and Robert S. Carl Jr., president and CEO of the Schuylkill Chamber of Commerce. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO

Published June 22. 2019 06:03AM

o much more than a coffee shop.

For some, it’s a safe place with support. And for others, it provides another opportunity. But most importantly, it’s somewhere that brings a sense of hope to the community.

About a year ago, Lisa Scheller opened Hope & Coffee on Pine Street in Tamaqua. After a very busy inaugural year, Scheller received the Schuylkill Chamber of Commerce Entrepreneur of the Year award at the chamber’s annual awards breakfast last Wednesday, due to the success of Hope & Coffee and positive impact it has had on the community.

“My own personal history at this point is pretty well-known,” Scheller said.

“For a long time, I kept my own personal story of addiction a secret, for fear of the social stigma that was placed on people in recovery and their past. I kept thinking about the opioid epidemic and what’s going on with our country, and the crisis that we’re having, in particularly the town that I grew up in and have a deep connection with.”

Scheller was born and raised in Tamaqua. She has a math degree from the University of Colorado and a master’s from Lehigh in Manufacturing Systems Engineering.

“I realized that we need to begin to change the conversation, that I should not only not feel a social stigma about my recovery, but by breaking my own anonymity. I can come out with a message that addiction is not a choice, it’s a disease. Recovery is possible and people in addiction and recovery come from all walks of life,” Scheller said.

Scheller recovered. She had support and people that believed in her. Now, it’s Scheller who is hoping to provide that same support and confidence to the community that she grew up in.

“Very often, because of our recovery, we have a real sense of gratitude for every day that we have, because we know what it’s like to be in the grips of our addiction. Because of our gratitude, we want to pay that forward and help others.”

Hope & Coffee is a nonprofit business, it’s a self-sustaining model, and it’s completely privately funded.

“It’s not about making money,” she said. “It’s about turning lives around and helping people recover. People in early recovery need that opportunity, they want to be hardworking and create value within the community and their own lives.”

What once was just a great idea has quickly blossomed into an integral staple of the Tamaqua community; a place where people go for many reasons. Employees of the shop are either in recovery, or have previously battled addiction. Organizations of all avenues, as well as support groups, host meetings there. And others simply like to stop in for a great cup of coffee or a bite to eat. The shop is spacious, modern and is elegantly furnished and put together. Hope & Coffee is truly a place for everyone.

“It’s become a real focal point within the community,” Scheller said. “It is a safe space for everybody in the community; there’s no alcohol or drugs there. The people who work there are very happy to be working there. It gives them a bridge back into the community.”

Scheller is also currently the CEO of Silberline Manufacturing Company in Hometown. She has held the position of either president, CEO or chairman since 1997. Scheller first started at the company in 1987 as Data Process Manager.

“There’s a few things in my life I’m pretty passionate about; Hope & Coffee is one, and my family’s business is another,” she said.

“Silberline was founded in 1945 by my grandfather and we moved to Pennsylvania in 1963, and we’ve been operating continuously here since 1963. We’re a private family-owned business and we’re a woman-owned business. Next year will be our 75th year in operation.”

Hope & Coffee will have a large celebration on July 19 to mark its one-year anniversary.

“I’ve been really fortunate that I’ve had people in my life that believed in me and I’ve had opportunities,” Scheller said.

“But the importance is to give back and create opportunities for others — whether it’s through something like Hope & Coffee, or through employment, or scholarships, or some other means. That’s really where I get a lot of satisfaction in my life.”

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