CHICAGO — While the coffee is good, “Sip of Hope” serves up much more than a cup of joe on the Northwest Side.
Through a partnership with Dark Matter Coffee, the café donates 100% of its proceeds to mental health education and suicide prevention.
“It doesn’t matter who you are or where you come from… five out of five people have good days and bad days,” owner Johnny Boucher said. “It’s okay not to be okay.”
Nationwide, suicide rates are the highest recorded in 28 years. Boucher opened Sip of Hope in honor of those who will never get the chance to pull up a chair.
“I personally have lost 16 people to suicide and the overarching issue they all faced was silence,” Boucher said.
His antidote is a place to talk through dark moments without judgement, a cafe serving up a cup of joe and compassion.
“The goal is always to meet people where they’re at and not where we expect them to be,” Boucher said. “You can talk to our baristas because they’re trained in mental health first aid.”
And on top of that, the coffee is great.
Ryan Shannon is now a regular. The Navy veteran says to him depression equaled weakness.
“I came home and I wasn’t the same,” Shannon said. “My leg and traumatic brain injury really took a toll.”
The former collegiate athlete found himself not only unable to stand, but also unwilling to find his way back. He says he wrote a suicide note and had a plan, but it was his wife who saved him that day.
He said she saved his life simply by listening and showing him he’s not alone.
Since then, Shannon has gone on to clean up in adaptive sports, winning a gold medal in Warrior Games, silver in track and finish his MBA.
“I still have bad days but… I now understand you can climb back out of it. You’re not in a dark room alone. There’s a lot of people out there that care,” Shannon said.
And at Sip of Hope, there’s a seat for anyone in need of more than a strong cup of coffee to make it through their day.
“In a country where we talk about building more walls, we need to build more tables and seats,” Boucher said.
If you or someone you know needs help, the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline offers crisis counseling free of charge every day of the year- at 1-800-273-8255, or text the word “home” to 741741.
This content was originally published here.