This coffee shop pays for free therapy, one cup at a time

This coffee shop pays for free therapy, one cup at a time

9/6/2021 1:03:00 AM

This coffee shop pays for free therapy, one cup at a time

Hip-hop artist Christopher LeMark started healing from decades of trauma thanks to therapy. He decided to help his fellow Chicago residents.

As LeMark worked through the"marathon" that is healing from trauma, he felt called to help others do the same. He went home and wrote down"coffee,""mental health" and"hip-hop" — three phrases that symbolized healing to him.

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"I wrote down 'coffee' because of the mental and emotional breakdown happened inside of a coffee shop," LeMark explained."Hip-hop saved my life from committing suicide. I always had a chance to write. It was my first form of therapy. And 'mental health,' because in my community we're taught to survive and we weren't talking about it, so I wanted to normalize this conversation."

With that, LeMark opened"Coffee, Hip-Hop, and Mental Health," a non-profit organization where every hip-hop inspired drink sold helps fund free therapy sessions for individuals in need. LeMark said that initially, he wanted to sell enough coffee and merchandise to send 250 people to therapy. One woman, public school teacher Faith Overall, was among those first helped by the program.

July 22, 202105:09"If I had to pay out of pocket, chances are I was just going to have to skip out on therapy," Overall said."If we have to choose between what's going to provide a roof over our head and what's going to help us navigate life, we're kind of conditioned to provide the roof over our heads instead. And so having access to free therapy gave me the opportunity to actually get to what I needed to get to."

Overall said that being able to access that care made her a better educator."I think that you can talk to anyone, and they have a story about a teacher that harmed them," Overall said."And chances are, that's because that teacher themself was unhealed. So if I heal myself, I have the opportunity to heal my students."

LeMark said that the nonprofit has helped him recover from his own trauma."You know, I spent a whole lifetime saying 'Why me, why me? Why did Mom abandon me?' And then it all hit," LeMark said."This is why, because I was going to be used to build a platform so people can get some help. And when you think about here in Chicago, it's such a divide when it comes to having the resources, which is why we took a risk to open up this amazing coffee shop so we can say 'We're going to step out and we're going to pay for people to get some help, because healing is a marathon.'"


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