PORT TOWNSEND — After more than nine months, the Dove House Recovery Cafe is nearing the completion of its renovations and is launching an online fundraiser during October.
While an official opening date is not set, three “Recovery Circles” already have started virtually, with the goal of being able to host a small number of the members in person soon with proper distancing and mask-wearing in light of the COVID-19 pandemic, said Brian Richardson, program manager.
Starting next week, Richardson plans to slowly start bringing in small groups from the Recovery Circles and split the meetings with some people in-person, with the rest remaining online for the time being, he said.
“We want to see how that goes for a little while before we say, ‘Yes, we’re open for drop-ins,’ ” Richardson said. “We want to serve people, while also keeping people safe.
“We have folks that need these services, and we have a pandemic going on, and we need to make sure that we’re keeping everybody safe.”
The cafe is conducting an online fundraiser throughout October to raise $25,000 to build a large deck on the property’s backyard, which would allow for outdoor socially distanced meetings, Richardson said.
The online fundraiser includes an event each week during the month and will allow community members to meet Recovery Cafe leaders, a virtual tour of the cafe, a virtual bingo game and an online concert, according to the event description.
Event information and how to donate can be found at dovehousejc.org. Or, text CAFÉ to 800-304-0911.
Recovery Circles are support groups for members of the cafe that assist members with recovery from addiction, mental illness, homelessness or trauma, Richardson said.
To be a member and receive services through the cafe, a person is required to have been sober for 24 hours, attend one Recovery Circle a week, and contribute to the cafe in some way, such as busing tables or helping in the kitchen, Richardson said.
The resources the cafe will provide are free coffee and meals, Recovery Circles and classes in the School of Recovery, Richardson said.
The major renovations of the building at 939 Kearney St. began in December 2019 and have included tearing down and extending a wall to increase room in the dining hall and adding two bathrooms compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), adding a meeting room for support groups, repainting the exterior and other improvements, Richardson said.
Dove House Advocacy Services purchased the building in July 2019 for about $300,000, from money raised through grants and reserve funds, Richardson said.
Since Dove House paid for the building outright, the Recovery Cafe has no mortgage payment, Richardson said.
The remodel of the building has cost about $160,000. Since December, 35 volunteers had given by Tuesday a combined total of 650 hours of service to the facility, Richardson said.
Volunteer and advisory committee member Maura Walsch has appreciated being able to assist with the cafe, helping with picking aesthetic upgrades such as the flooring and other parts of the renovation.
“We’re just able to do what we’re good at,” she said. “It’s wonderful being part of this community.”
The cafe was originally planned to open in early fall 2019, but permitting delays and renovation complications, combined with the later restrictions to protect against COVID-19, made the remodel take longer, Richardson said.
“We went in with a plan, thinking we’ll keep a simple remodel, and then as we went in, we just encountered problem after problem with this building, so the scope just kept getting bigger and bigger,” Richardson said. “While it’s been frustrating at times, it’s exactly what we wanted it to be at this stage.
“Our full vision, of course, is that we have a full cafe where people embrace each other and there’s lots of people in there and there’s people in the kitchen cooking, there’s people doing groups and circles — and that’s great, and I know someday we’ll be able to do that — but, we can’t do that while there is a pandemic.”
The pandemic put the renovations on hold from March until May, and once they restarted, Richardson had to coordinate groups and contractors working at specific times due to distancing requirements, he said.
Jefferson County reporter Zach Jablonski can be reached at 360-385-2335, ext. 5, or at z[email protected].