Updated: Mar 26, 2022
One of our partner organizations is the Monastery. This drug and alcohol rehabilitation center provides free housing, care, and counseling to men and women. While residing at the center, rehabilitants are exposed to a wide variety of skills training, including agriculture, mechanics, and food preparation, which empowers them to seek employment upon their graduation from the program.
The organization running the Monastery is a local Evangelical church made up of about 300 members. After Sunday service, church-goers are invited to a Café where they can purchase homemade pastries and food items made with Monastery products—including meat, cheese, milk, and vegetables grown there. As an added bonus, free American coffee is available for consumption.
Many locals enjoy coffee, but are hesitant to spend 3,000 rubles (15% of median earnings) on good-quality products with real ingredients. Many are fearful of counterfeit and contaminated products. GEN has partnered with Denver-based Janice Urbach to collect coffee donations and send them to support the Monastery's rehabilitation-center efforts.
Timofey, our Program Manager, connected with Tatiana, the Café manager, to hear more about how the Café got started and the difference it is making.
"Our initial struggle was figuring out a menu that would be affordable for people and at the same time, delicious and interesting. At first we were limited to blini and pirozhki. Then, we started incorporating the meat and milk products from the Center and we started making pizzas and yogurt."
Even though church-goers were shy at first, they quickly became enticed by the low prices, delicious and free beverages, and the opportunity to connect with each other in an informal setting—all for a good cause.
"In the future," says Tatiana, "We want to expand the ability to serve our community. The Café is already open and advertised to the community—we welcome everyone. With time, we want to be in a place where we can gift food items to families with many children, or to the elderly. The first step is convincing people with means that they can contribute to this effort and make a real difference."
Thank you to @julle_ette for the wonderful photographs.