BURNS, Ore. — Two years ago, voters passed Measure 110 to decriminalize user amounts of hard drugs and redirect money from the state's marijuana tax revenue to establish drug addiction treatments and recovery programs.
The state recently awarded a $857,000 grant funded through Measure 110 to Symmetry Care Inc., a nonprofit that provides mental health and addiction recovery services in Harney County, a rural county in southeast Oregon.
Instead of traditional addiction services like counseling, Symmetry Care has other plans for the money.
"We thought we had an innovative idea that people could get behind both at the state level and locally," said Chris Siegner, director of Symmetry Care.
That idea was to open up a coffee shop and hire people who are in recovery.
"You can’t emphasize enough how powerful it is for people to have that self-esteem and sense of pride in what they’ve done," Siegner said.
Jason Sanchez, Symmetry Care's addictions and peer supervisor, came up with the coffee shop idea. He believes it will give clients necessary skills for life after treatment
"The people that are working there are going to be people that are going to be in recovery and learning the life skills that they need," said Sanchez.
"People that are working and get the self-esteem and self-confidence from having employment and having skills and feel like they are contributing, and making themselves successful, is far better therapy or treatment than they could get just by doing counseling or other types of services," added Siegner.
The nonprofit bought a building for the project in downtown Burns. A few of their clients are helping with renovations.
A counselor will manage the shop, and Symmetry Care hopes it will also be a resource hub for other treatment services.
"We want it to be a life-changing place for the people that work there," said Siegner. He said the community has been supportive of the project.
The coffee is expected to open within the next year.