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Overcoming Addiction Sometimes Starts With a Meal and Art

by Mandy Shunnarah

Several dozen people standing in front of a storefront in front of orange, yellow, and black balloons, with a person dressed in a sun costume kneeling in front.
Photo Credit: Daveed Holmes
SHINE Team the day before opening August 14th, 2023.

How a community in Indiana is bringing creativity and other much-needed resources to adults in recovery, one meal and art class at a time.

Shine Recovery Café in Griffith, Indiana, is a haven for many different types of visitors. From adults overcoming drug and alcohol addiction to survivors of trauma, there’s one thing they all have in common and why they return to Shine again and again: the need for genuine human connection in a supportive, non-judgmental environment.  

Shine Recovery Café is the newest addition to the offerings that the nonprofit organization For the Love of the Arts provides, made possible through a We the Many grant from Arts Midwest. While For the Love of the Arts has focused mainly on children in the past, the recovery café is an opportunity to bring the arts and other necessary resources to the adults who need them most. 

A person wearing an eye mask sitting in a folding chair while another person gives them a pedicure.
Photo Credit: Daveed Holmes
Shine Recovery Café founder Sade’ Carrasquillo giving a pedicure to a member during a spa day activity.

For Shine Recovery and For the Love of the Arts founder Sade’ Carasquillo, this mission is personal. 

“My parents struggled with addiction, so that was real for me growing up,” she says. “So I saw Shine Recovery Café as an opportunity to expand and work with adults. It’s just seeing the power the arts have, and being able to bring that into the type of community support and resource that Shine Recovery offers is really unique and so needed.”

Shine is part of a network of recovery cafés nationwide that all follow a similar model. Patrons of the café can take part in classes—anything from art classes like bead-making, acrylic painting, and creative writing to professional development workshops on how to write resumes and find work—or just spend time in community with other people going through hardships. 

Some people choose to talk about what they’re going through, and others come to escape their challenges, play board games, make art, and make friends. All members—patrons who come to the café more than three times—commit to an hour-long weekly meeting with their specific recovery group based on their recovery type. 

A person smiling and scooping food from aluminum trays across from another person.
Photo Credit: Daveed Holmes
Shine Recovery Café Kitchen Lead Milland Goldman is all smiles serving a meal to a member.

And true to its name, Shine Recovery Cafe provides coffee, tea, and a meal, all for free. 

“I thought I would just be serving meals, but you really connect to people,” says Milland Goldman, who has worked in Shine’s kitchen since day one. “Yes, I serve a hot meal, but sometimes you have the opportunity to talk to someone, and they’ll open up to me who’s in the kitchen. I’m 55 years old, so I’ve had experiences with trauma and things in my life, so I’m able to share what worked for me, or how it happened for me, or be able to point them in the right direction with getting the resources they need.

“So not only am I feeding them physically, sometimes you feed them spiritually and mentally,” she adds.

This model for supporting people who are struggling is called love-based recovery. It means everybody is welcome, no matter where they are in their recovery journey or the methods they use to recover. As long as people respect the space and don’t come to Shine Recovery while intoxicated, the doors are open. 

“We’re not telling you this is the right way, and you have to subscribe to it. It’s come as you are and whatever is working for you, and let us be an asset to that,” Carasquillo says. 

Shine is especially needed in Indiana, which has a high rate of opioid overdoses. To address this, Indiana’s government has pushed funding for recovery cafés. There are currently 17 recovery cafés in Indiana and 67 in the U.S.

Although Shine has only been open for a few months, membership is taking off. Within the first two months, Shine gained 30 members, and the café continues to steadily grow. 

“Once you know you’re not being judged for having a problem and not being turned away because of what you’ve done, you’re quicker to ask for help. It makes all the difference in the world,” Goldman says.

To make Shine even more accessible, Carasquillo added Shine Kids, a program that allows café patrons to bring their kids to Love of Arts Creativity Center while they’re at the café. That breaks the barrier for those who don’t have childcare and provides support for the unique challenges children who have parents in recovery face. 

“Not only am I feeding them physically, sometimes you feed them spiritually and mentally,”


“It’s so needed because my first experience with recovery was being a child of parents in recovery. You go through so much emotionally and developmentally that’s different than your peers, and we want people to know that while they’re getting support, their kids are getting support,” Carasquillo says. “We have different learning and arts activities to give them that fun experience, and they get a meal just like at the café. And it’s free because, as a mom, you need a break sometimes.”

Running For the Love of the Arts and Shine Recovery Cafe add up, so both are always seeking donations and community partnerships to allow them to continue their work.

As Goldman says, “Come on in, and we’ll serve you a whole plate of love, acceptance, and inclusion!”

For the Love the the Arts is part of We the Many, a program that supports communities in the creation of their own unique artist residency experiences, encouraging the exchange of voices, cultures, and ideas relevant to each community context. We the Many is a project of Arts Midwest with generous support from the Mellon Foundation and in partnership with the Indiana Arts Commission.