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New Logan Square Coffee Shop To Be 100% Dedicated To Preventing Suicide

By Emma G. Gallegos in Food on Oct 23, 2017 8:33PM

The coffee shop will be located in the old Dill Pickle Co-op Space on Fullerton, pictured here (Google Maps)

Sip Of Hope rendering
Dark Matter will be opening up a new coffee shop in the old Dill Pickle Co-op spot but there will be a twist: this one will be wholly dedicated to preventing suicide.

Jonny Boucher, the CEO of the local nonprofit Hope for the Day, is partnering with the people behind Dark Matter for Sip of Hope, a new kind of coffee shop scheduled to open in spring. Boucher tells Chicagoist that it's not unusual for a venue to raise awareness and dedicate a certain percentage of their proceeds to this or that cause for a week or month. But day-in, day-out Sip Of Hope will not only be dedicating 100% of their proceeds to suicide prevention efforts but it will serve as outreach. It will fight the tradition of silence and stigma, and of suicidal people being told to suck it up. The shop's motto will be: it's okay to not be okay.

"If shit hits fan, and life's kicking you in the ass, you can come in," Boucher says. "And you don't have to worry about insurance."

Boucher happens to be friends with Dark Matter Coffee founder Jesse Diaz, and he's a big coffee fan, so the partnership came naturally.

Patrons looking for a cup of coffee or a place to do work will be able to walk into the shop and do their business as they would any other coffee place. But Sip Of Hope will have a prominent resource area for folks who might be struggling. There will be information on the coffee cups, too. The baristas will not only be trained in how to brew a solid cup of coffee, but they will also have the mental health equivalent of CPR training.

"Bartenders, baristas, barbers are the ones that get us through the day," Boucher says. "It's not a counseling session but it's a way to start a conversation."

The new space will have a sidewalk patio, and a 35-foot coffee bar inside. Though he considered other neighborhoods—including Uptown where his organization is currently based—he's excited to be in Logan Square, a diverse and changing neighborhood.

Boucher had been a fan of the Dill Pickle Co-op's role in the community and its space, so he was excited when he was hunting for a location and saw that it was moving on to a bigger space. Boucher says, "The way I see it, one social enterprise was leaving, another is coming in to nurture a neighborhood and nurture a city."

He says his group is already partnering with the library across the street to offer free mental health first aid trainings, which he says is particularly important for first responders, like fire and police officers.

This shop reflects the philosophy behind Boucher's suicide prevention nonprofit, Hope for the Day. Rather than set up another resource center, Boucher's group aims to find struggling folks wherever they are at to deliver the message that you're far from alone if you're wrestling with mental health issues—and then it aims to connect people with the resources they need to address their crisis head on. Too many people are afraid to speak up before it's too late, he says.

Boucher says that while mental health issues are incredibly widespread, resources for them and outreach lag behind. Some groups that exist focus on particularly hard-hit populations, like veterans and the LGBT community, but Boucher wants to raise awareness that mental health issues can hit people from all walks of life. Boucher says nonprofits that are dedicated to delivering this message are often hamstrung by efforts that don't take into account the way life is actually lived.

A lot of Hope for the Day's suicide prevention efforts dovetail with the music community, which was where Boucher worked before he experienced one too many friends and colleagues losing their lives to suicide. He's asked musicians and even Michelin starred chefs to share their stories and break their silence so that people in all communities would know they weren't alone.

Hope for the Day recently partnered with 3 Floyds Brewing and the band Mastodon for a batch of beer with labels that listed resource numbers for people struggling. Partnering with a beer company might not fly at a traditional nonprofit, but because alcohol does play such a role in the lives of so many people—Boucher has a relative who drank himself to death—Boucher didn't think he could afford not to partner with a beer company.

Sip of Hope is slated to open this spring, hopefully before May, which is mental health awareness month. If you're interested in sponsoring the coffee shop's opening, you can make a donation here. And on Dec. 2, there will be a fundraiser at WeWork Chicago to honor Diaz.

If someone you know exhibits warning signs of suicide: do not leave the person alone, remove any firearms, alcohol, drugs or sharp objects that could be used in a suicide attempt, and call the U.S. National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-TALK (8255) or take the person to an emergency room or seek help from a medical or mental health professional. Hope for the Day has more resources available here.