They advertise themselves as “an army of soldiers,” a fierce, fighting force of recovering family members and recovering addicts.
And if you want to hear their stories, seven of the people who in April opened Battlefield Coffee House on A Street in Auburn will unfold the tales, sparing none of the horrors.
They’ll talk about drug addiction, theirs or that of loved ones and dear friends – the son’s life lost, the meltdown of a father’s and mother’s trust, the loss of livelihoods and homes, life on the street, the erosion of respect and dignity.
They lived it all.
But as you learn quickly, co-founders Art Dahlen and Angie Keaty, and managers Jason Churchill, Adam Day, Korby Ercanerack, Kevin Chang, Emily Swanson, and Kristin Fairweather, flat out refuse to live in the past. Instead, they put all of their experience, strength and hope into action, fighting for, and standing with, broken people, people still on their knees.
“Battlefield grew out of the need for a place for families of addicts to get some support,” explained Dahlen, co-founder of Battlefield Coffee House and a recovering heroin addict with 17 years in the field of addiction.
Keaty, who co-founded the coffee house, lost her 23-year-old son, Devon, to addiction two years ago June 3, and comes to the task with nine years of experience. She quit her job to devote all of her time to building the organization from the studs up and working with families.
“Addiction showed up and became a big teacher for me, and the education continues today,” Keaty said.
In 2012, Dahlen and his wife, Amy, founded the nonprofits Sober Living and Big Change Recovery Homes. In 2014, the couple assumed operation of Northwest Resources Treatment House and began arranging treatment and housing.
“We had Sober Living and the outpatient treatment facility, but we weren’t gaining enough traction,” Dahlen said. “Apparently, we couldn’t get it done without families getting involved.”
That’s where Battlefield Coffee comes in: filling the gaps; getting addicts into recovery; and guiding families to and through recovery.
“We don’t leave families at any point in the process,” said Dahlen, a no-nonsense kind of guy, not used to sugar coating the hard stuff, blessed with the natural gift of coaching families through the steps they must take to save their loved ones. “Donations have not only helped us give scholarships to families and those in recovery, but also help us continue doing what we do on a daily basis.
“We have an army of not only volunteers but also employed ‘soldiers’ who can give fully of their time, without restrictions,” Dahlen added.
Like Adam Day, once a warehouse manager with 116 people in his employ, whose lifelong drug use finally spun out of control and cost him his job. His addictions landed him in and out of treatment centers in California, Utah, Washington and Missouri.
Eleven months ago, Day approached Dahlen, a longtime friend, for treatment.
“With addiction, it’s not just the addict, it’s the whole family that gets sick. Before I came here, I’d go to treatment, come back, and my wife and I would argue back and forth. This time. my wife started going on Tuesdays to what they call the Solution Groups. So she’s learning and growing, too,” Day said.
Churchill worked with Dahlen at a Sumner bakery in the mid-’90s, getting high, he concedes, at every opportunity.
“I was one of the people you call a functioning addict: you know, does a lot drugs and thinks nobody knows when in fact, the entire planet knows. I still payed my bills, I still had my son, but I’m high all the time, thinking it’s OK – but it’s not OK. In 2013, I sent my son to live with family in Montana. It really hit me hard that I couldn’t take care of him any more.”
In January 2015, Churchill called Dahlen and said: “I can’t do it anymore. He said, ‘About time. Come on, we’ve got you.’ ”
“Addiction is 24/7, and so should be the help available when those suffering reach out for it,” Dahlen said.
Battlefield Coffee House is at 129 A Street in Auburn, where Jason’s Bakery used to be. The grand opening is 12 to 3 p.m., July 13.
Check them out on Facebook.