The recent New England Community Outlook Survey, conducted by Regional & Community Outreach colleagues Anthony Poore and Kaili Mauricio, found a growing concern among survey participants about addiction and the impact it is having on the economic strength of communities.
So I was interested to see something upbeat in Worcester, a cafe that helps recovering addicts gain job skills. Brian MacQuarrie has the story at the Boston Globe.
“Reyman Ortiz and other staff at Cafe Reyes live at the affiliated Hector Reyes House, the only residential treatment center in Central Massachusetts for Hispanic men struggling with substance abuse.
“ ‘It’s a natural high,’ said Carlos Echevarria, a 48-year-old longtime heroin addict who worked as a barista this day. ‘I get up in the morning, and I love coming here.’
“The cafe, which opened Jan. 19, is the brainchild of Dr. Matilde Castiel, the executive director of the Hector Reyes House, who believed she had a recipe for success. The staff share an affinity for Latin food, language is less of a barrier at the cafe, and peer support is an arm’s length away.
“ ‘It also gets them out of their environment and helps them know people outside of recovery,’ said Castiel, a native of Cuba, who is clinical associate professor of medicine at UMass Medical School. ‘It has a certain effect of bringing life into them.’
“That sense of life is as much a part of Cafe Reyes as Cuban sandwiches and black bean soup. Latin music provides a pulsing, upbeat ambience; the walls are awash in vibrant color; and quiet chatter fills the 42-seat dining room.
“But more important, for Castiel’s purposes, is that the smiles on the weathered faces of hardened men exude a sense of life renewed.” More here.