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  • Randall Benton / rbenton@sacbee.com

    Coffee House Coordinator Crystal Urech, left, trains Clean & Sober resident Vicki Brock at the TurnAround Coffee House in downtown Sacramento on Thursday, May 22, 2014. The cafe uses volunteers and formerly homeless run this new cafe. Funds are used to support the Clean & Sober nonprofit.

  • Randall Benton / rbenton@sacbee.com

    Customers visit the TurnAround Coffee House in downtown Sacramento on Thursday, May 22, 2014. Volunteers and formerly homeless people run this new cafe. Funds are used to support the Clean & Sober nonprofit.

  • Randall Benton / rbenton@sacbee.com

    Customers order coffee at the TurnAround Coffee House in downtown Sacramento on Friday, May 23, 2014. The cafe uses volunteers and formerly homeless run this new cafe. Funds are used to support the Clean & Sober nonprofit.

  • Randall Benton / rbenton@sacbee.com

    Volunteer Sandee Korman, left, is hugged by Karissa Ecarrega at the Turnaround Cafe in downtown Sacramento on Friday, May 23, 2014. The turnaround cafe uses volunteers and formerly homeless run this new cafe. Funds are used to support the Clean & Sober nonprofit.

  • Randall Benton / rbenton@sacbee.com

    Coffee House Coordinator Crystal Urech sets a coffee drink onto the counter top at the TurnAround Coffee House in downtown Sacramento on Friday, May 23, 2014. Volunteers and formerly homeless people run this new cafe. Funds are used to support the Clean & Sober nonprofit.

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Cafe turns coffee into changed lives

Published: Tuesday, May. 27, 2014 - 12:00 am
Last Modified: Thursday, May. 29, 2014 - 12:35 pm

The TurnAround Coffee House is unspectacular in decor. Its parking situation is dismal. The coffee is comparable to that of many other local spots.

It’s the mission that sets the new brew house apart.

The cafe, at Seventh and H streets in downtown Sacramento, is run by volunteers and people in recovery from drug or alcohol abuse. The proceeds support Sacramento’s Clean & Sober homeless recovery communities. The coffee shop opened with fanfare and dignitaries on May 22.

It’s one of a handful of businesses in the Sacramento region using some variation of the restaurant model to support charities. Others include the Plates and Plates2Go cafes, run by Sacramento’s St. John’s Shelter, and Origin Coffee & Tea in Rocklin, which uses its profits to combat human trafficking.

Whereas Plates and Plates2Go are run entirely by women in the shelter program, Turnaround uses both residents in their program and volunteers.

“We’re using both,” said Mark Teeley, executive director of Clean & Sober. “We want people in the program to focus on their sobriety.”

Clean & Sober is a registered nonprofit spun off the larger Loaves & Fishes homeless support program. In addition to a walk-in office, which provides help for those seeking recovery and utilizes the 12-step model, the 501(c)(3) organization houses about 60 people in organization-owned townhomes to assist in their recovery and reintegration into society. Another 17 people live in transitional apartments, according to the organization’s 2012 federal tax statements.

“You have to be willing to turn your life around,” Teeley said. Unlike some housing programs that require a period of sobriety before admission, Clean & Sober will assist those in the early stages of recovery, Teeley said. Residents stay for a period of months, then move on. About two-thirds of the people in the program are men. Teeley said the cafe will help teach job skills to residents, help the organization connect to the community and earn revenue for the nonprofit.

“We have people that have never had a job,” Teeley said.

With $338,000 in expenses and $294,000 in revenue, the organization’s 2012 federal tax statements suggest that additional revenue is needed.

Teeley said the organization secured rent at below market rate and called in favors to get the cafe built and furnished.

One of the people leading the charge was Antoinette deVere White, matriarch of the pub-owning deVere brothers. Henry deVere said his mother poured her heart into getting the cafe open, and he was happy to help.

Teeley and manager Crystal Urech said one area of the operation the organization splurged on was the espresso machine.

Urech, who is in recovery herself, said the espresso machine allows novice baristas to make consistently good coffee drinks. That and an easy-to-use register allow her to quickly get volunteers up to speed, said Urech, who was hired away from Starbucks. There are currently about 40 volunteers.

“It’s the easiest coffee shop I’ve ever seen,” Urech said. “People come in and by the end of the day they know what to do.”

Chris Simmons is one of the Clean & Sober residents working at TurnAround. After four months on the streets, he entered the Clean & Sober program and got housing in January. It’s early, but he said he enjoys working at the coffee shop – his first time working in that environment.

“It puts me in service,” Simmons said. “I know I’m working for a good cause: helping the community I’m living in keep the doors open for people who struggle with addiction like myself.”


Call The Bee’s Ed Fletcher, (916) 321-1269. Follow him on Twitter @NewsFletch.

Read more articles by Ed Fletcher



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