Bridget’s Year of Service and That Special Cafe Feeling

POSTED: July 28, 2017 under Blog Volunteers

NOTE: RCSJ is a host agency for interns through the Jesuit Volunteer Corp (VJC). JVC places new college graduates in nonprofit, social service agencies for a year of service before they continue on to graduate school or their careers. This last year we have been extremely lucky to have Bridget Hager with us as our JV. This post is Bridget’s goodbye.

Today I say goodbye to my home away from home as my Jesuit Volunteer year comes to an end. As I reflect on my year at Recovery Cafe, I am overwhelmed with gratitude. I have come to know and love and be loved by so many beautiful people over the past year and cannot fathom the idea of life without the Cafe. However, the time has come for me to say goodbye and make room for a new Jesuit Volunteer to be welcomed into the family with that radical RSCJ hospitality!

As I look back on the past year at the Cafe, I find that it has been filled with times of transition and change. This idea of transition is a wildly relevant theme in my life right now, as I prepare to move back to the East Coast and begin Graduate School at Fordham University this fall. This notion of transition is one that I have been struggling with as I prepare myself to say goodbye. I find myself fearful of all the uncertainties that lie ahead and saddened at the idea of leaving so many wonderful friends. However, while reflecting on the experiences I have had over the past year I am comforted. I have been giving one particular experience a great deal of thought over the past few days. It was a time that I felt similar stress about a looming change…

From the moment I walked through the doors of Recovery Cafe last August, I was overcome with feelings of love, safety, support, and comfort. There was an element of magic that I just could not quite put my finger on in the Cafe space at 80 S. 5th Street and I knew I was not alone in that feeling. Often times, new members would walk through our doors for the first time and comment on how special the energy of the space was. Therefore, when we discovered that we would be temporarily operating out of a new space, I feared that the special energy that inhabited the Cafe would vanish. I feared that the energy that I fell so deeply in love with was specific to the building that we occupied.

We closed our doors at 80 S. 5th in March, and I quietly mourned what I thought was the end of an era. When we reopened our doors a week later in our new location, I was filled with uncertainty of how we would function. As is true with all change, there was a bit of an adjustment period. We tried out about ten different table configurations, had to get into the rhythm of a new cleaning routine, and adjust to a much smaller space. However, when we opened our doors on that Tuesday in March, and all of our members flooded through, I was overcome with utter joy. That unnamable feeling that I feared would be lost forever overwhelmed the entire space as the room erupted in the familiar noise of conversation, music, and laughter.

It was then that I realized that the energy I loved so deeply loved had nothing to do with a physical space and everything to do with the people that make up that space. The spirit of Recovery Cafe cannot be limited to a room or building or even city or state. It is something that touches all who are a part of it in the deepest parts of our souls and that we take with us wherever we go.

I am now faced with these all too familiar emotions that are associated with change: sadness, fear, anxiety. But I now know that as long as I keep the spirit, that special unnamable feeling with me forever I can take on anything. I am so thankful to Recovery Cafe for teaching what it means to be a part of something bigger than myself. I am so thankful to Recovery Cafe for giving me place to belong and grow.