Wendy Grove is the founder and executive director of the Everett Recovery Cafe, a nonprofit that helps people overcome addiction, mental health issues and homelessness. A fundraising dinner to benefit the cafe is scheduled for Sept. 23 at Floral Hall in Everett’s Forest Park. An anonymous donor has pledged to match up to $50,000 raised at the event. (Dan Bates / The Herald)

Nonprofit’s annual fundraiser already has $50K donor

For people working to overcome addiction, the Everett Recovery Cafe is a place to heal. In a cozy, renovated house on Broadway, it offers community and a haven from the streets. One anonymous champion of those efforts has pledged a generous gift — up to $50,000 — in advance of the cafe’s annual fundraiser.

Wendy Grove, the nonprofit’s founder and director, said the contributor will match, with as much as $50,000, donations made Sept. 23 at “Love in the Soup,” the Everett Recovery Cafe’s fourth annual fundraising event. Scheduled for 5:30-8 p.m. Sept. 23 at Floral Hall in Forest Park, it will feature food, music, auction items and stories of recovery shared by cafe members.

A similar fundraiser last year raised about $70,000, she said.

The cafe at 2212 Broadway is open five days a week. Along with lunches and friendship, it offers support meetings, connections to social and health care programs. Members share in the chores. Membership is free, but people are asked to be at least 24 hours drug- and alcohol-free before coming to the cafe.

Grove, 56, said Monday there are now about 40 active members, and nearly 500 visits monthly.

Asked about the $50,000 donor, she said “they want to be anonymous. They don’t even want the board to know.” Through donations, grants and other gifts, the cafe’s 2016 income was about $171,000. Grove is a volunteer, and the cafe has a paid floor manager and several part-time workers.

A former Snohomish district elementary school teacher, Grove volunteered and worked at Seattle’s Recovery Cafe before launching the Everett Recovery Cafe, which opened in 2015. The Everett nonprofit is modeled after the Seattle cafe, but is financially independent.

Success brings new challenges. The Everett cafe’s house, across from a Walgreens store, is too small to serve all those needing help. “We’ve known since the very beginning we would need a new home,” Grove said.

The nonprofit plans to start a capital campaign in March. Its aim is to find and move to a larger cafe site in Everett. Toward that end, the Rotary Club of Everett is donating $5,000 to help with a strategic plan that will determine the campaign’s financial goal.

Ed Petersen has been such a strong supporter,” Grove said. A recent past president of the Rotary club, Petersen is chief strategic officer of Everett-based HopeWorks, and was the founding executive director of Housing Hope.

“These are amazing gifts of hope and healing,” said Lyle Kendall, president of the Everett Recovery Cafe’s board of directors, in a statement released with the announcement of the $50,000 pledge.

The donations come at a time when opioid addiction is ever more visible on local streets and in the news. Business owner Gary Watts, now a write-in candidate for Everett mayor, used his readerboard to label the community “Tweakerville.” And the Snohomish Health District revealed that a week’s worth of data, gathered July 17-23, showed there were 37 drug overdoses during that period in the county, including three that were fatal.

“Love in the Soup,” the fundraiser’s theme, arose from an exchange between Sarah Brooks, now the senior cafe manager, and one member after Brooks improvised with a chili recipe.

“I am a person in recovery,” said Brooks, 35, sharing that she was a teen runaway who “got sober at 19.”

Early on at the Everett Recovery Cafe, Brooks was the cook. “Every day, I would come in super early and try to cook something beautiful,” she said. It was a Thursday, chili day, but instead of tomatoes the cafe had received a large donation of peaches.

After Brooks put those peaches in the chili pot, someone asked, “What’s in the soup?” She said she answered, “it’s made with love — it’s all made with love.”

A mother of two living in Arlington, Brooks will cook her special Peach Chili for guests at the fundraiser.

“It’s not easy being in recovery,” Brooks said. And although she believes some look down on those overcoming addiction, people should “be loud about it.”

“We hear so much of the negative,” Brooks said. “There might be 10 overdoses a day. But there also might be 10 people entering recovery every day.”

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

Fundraiser, celebration

“Love in the Soup,” a fundraising event to help support the Everett Recovery Cafe, is scheduled for 5:30-8 p.m. Sept. 23 at Floral Hall in Forest Park, 802 E. Mukilteo Blvd., Everett. It will include food, music, auction items, and stories shared by people in recovery from addiction. To reserve a space, send email by Sept. 20 to reservations@everett recoverycafe.org.

The Everett Recovery Cafe is at 2212 Broadway. Learn more at everettrecoverycafe.org.

This weekend, people from Island, San Juan, Skagit, Snohomish and Whatcom counties are invited to “Join the Voices for Recovery PNW,” a free event marking National Recovery Month. It’s noon-4 p.m. Saturday at First United Methodist Church, 1607 Division St., Mount Vernon. It includes food, fellowship, education and a keynote talk by Marti MacGibbon.

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