Danita Lott, 47, talks about the help and community she found at the Everett Recoverey Cafe after struggling with addiction for decades. The cafe will host a fundraiser Nov. 9. (Dan Bates / The Herald)

Danita Lott, 47, talks about the help and community she found at the Everett Recoverey Cafe after struggling with addiction for decades. The cafe will host a fundraiser Nov. 9. (Dan Bates / The Herald)

Dishing up more than soup, cafe helped addict find new life

Everett Recovery Cafe members to share their experiences at fundraiser aimed at renovating new site.

About 18 months ago, Danita Lott walked into the Everett Recovery Cafe. With the street at her back, after decades of struggle, she had opened a door to change.

Inside, she saw someone she knew working as a floor manager. Her first thought, she said, was “If he could do it, I could do it.”

And she has.

“My clean date is July 23, 2018,” said Lott. “I didn’t think anybody else understood.”

On Tuesday, in the Goodwin Garden Room of Everett’s United Church of Christ, Lott shared how the nonprofit cafe has bolstered her new life of sobriety. The church on the northwest corner of Rockefeller and Everett avenues is the temporary home of the Everett Recovery Cafe.

Lott, 47, said her downward spiral began at 13. “By 14 I was addicted to heroin and methamphetamine,” said the Everett woman, who has also lived in the Tri-Cites and Vancouver, Washington, areas. Lott said her mother suffered from mental illness and alcoholism. She lived with her grandmother and an aunt. “I moved around,” she said.

Pregnant with her first child at 15, by 19 a third baby was on the way, Lott said. She tried staying away from drugs, but said “I wasn’t faithful.”

She dates her sobriety to a couple months after finding the Everett Recovery Cafe.

“I hooked up with the Recovery Cafe before I went to treatment,” said Lott, adding that a Snohomish County Sheriff’s Office team of deputies and social workers intervened to help her out of addiction and homelessness. “They picked me up. I was living on the street,” she said.

Lott spent 45 days in a residential treatment program, Pioneer Center North, in Sedro-Woolley. She stayed for a time at the Snohomish County Diversion Center, an alternative to jail. Now living independently in sober housing, she’s working through an internship at the Carnegie Resource Center, a Snohomish County partnership with Pioneer Human Services.

Next month, she’ll tell her story to supporters of the Everett Recovery Cafe during “Love in the Soup,” the cafe’s annual fundraiser. It’s scheduled for 5:30-8 p.m. Nov. 9 in the cafe’s new space, the lower level of the Everett Public Market building on Grand Avenue and California Street. Admission is free, but guests will be asked to donate.

The event will feature music, Recovery Cafe members sharing their experiences, and an autumn dinner featuring peach chili. The dish is a specialty of Sarah Brooks, the cafe’s operations director.

A refuge from the streets for those who’ve struggled with addiction or homelessness, the Everett Recovery Cafe got its start in 2015 in a rented house on Broadway. That first week, only a few people stopped by for soup and what cafe founder and executive director Wendy Grove describes as “radical hospitality.”

Today, with more than 200 members, the cafe is in the midst of a renovation project at the Everett Public Market site. The move to the church happened because the cafe’s lease was up on Broadway. That house, across from a Walgreens store, is now for sale. Open noon to 4 p.m. Tuesdays through Saturdays, the cafe offers lunch, groups called Recovery Circles and other programs.

More than 12-steps groups — and many involved in the cafe are also part of those — the Everett Recovery Cafe is a place to find new social connections, when those once considered friends are a hindrance to sobriety.

“It’s a whole bunch of people who’ve come together, like me, a community with other addicts where you don’t feel judged,” Lott said.

Membership, which is free, requires being drug- and alcohol-free at least 24 hours, contributing to running the cafe, and attending a Recovery Circle once a week. Modeled after the original Recovery Cafe in Seattle, the Everett nonprofit is now a full member of the Recovery Cafe Network — which has sites in nearly a dozen communities.

Lott’s youngest child is now 19, and she has a granddaughter. “People ask, ‘Why did you get clean?’ She’s the reason,” Lott said. “I’m living proof it can be done.”

Julie Muhlstein: 425-339-3460; jmuhlstein@heraldnet.com.

Recovery Cafe fundraiser

The Everett Recovery Cafe’s annual fundraiser, “Love in the Soup,” is scheduled for 5:30-8 p.m. Nov. 9 at its new space in the lower level of the Everett Public Market building, 2804 Grand Ave. Event includes a meal, music and information. It’s free, but donations will be sought. Food Lifeline’s Mark Coleman will interview Recovery Cafe members and share his story.

RSVP to “Love in the Soup” by email: info@everettrecoverycafe.org

During renovations, the Everett Recovery Cafe is temporarily located at Everett’s United Church of Christ, 2624 Rockefeller Ave. Hours are noon-4 p.m. Tuesdays through Saturdays. Information: www.everettrecoverycafe.org/

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