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River Edge Lawyer Wants To Open Café For Addicts In Recovery

Lisa Gladwell, lawyer for marginalized people, including addicts in recovery.
Lisa Gladwell, lawyer for marginalized people, including addicts in recovery. Photo Credit: Lorraine Ash

RIVER EDGE, N.J. — Lisa Gladwell, a River Edge lawyer, has a dream for the recovery community in Bergen County: she wants to open the Rise Up Café.

It will be an alcohol-free place for those in recovery from addiction.

She knows what the feelings of early recovery are like. The loneliness. The isolation.

Her mission is to help make the path for those in early recovery a little bit easier.

“For me, recovery was hard work in the beginning,” said Gladwell, 58. “But it’s a blessing now.”

Next month, the Demarest native will be sober for 15 years.

Addicts in recovery know what they’re not supposed to do, according to Gladwell. But they don’t know what they can do.

“Rise Up would be a place where people would gather,” said Gladwell, who is working on a Westwood location.

She wants the café to be located in the Pascack Valley or Northern Valley and be accessible by transportation since many people in recovery don’t have cars or driver licenses.

“I know daughters who shoot dope with their mothers,” Gladwell said. “I know sons who drink with their parents. In early recovery, you’re not even supposed to be running with your old friends anymore because you’re not using.”

When your life has to stop revolving around substances, questions emerge:

Where do you go on a Friday night?

Where do you go on a Sunday during football season?

Where do you go when everybody in your household is drinking?

Where do you go to talk to people who understand?

Her answer is Rise Up Café, which Gladwell envisions as a place for music and art and for the written word to be shared.

There will be simple food such as soups and sandwiches and little bakery treats, too.

There’s more. The café also will provide employment opportunities for addicts in recovery who have either no work history, a terrible work history, or a criminal record.

At the café, they can work at a steppingstone job they’ll eventually vacate for someone else.

“It will be a community place,” Gladwell explained. “It’s not just for people in recovery. It will be for everyone.”

The idea of the café has been growing in Gladwell’s mind for a number of years.

She’s acting now, she said, because, frankly, she’s sick of burying people. She knows addicts in recovery need a place they can be both vulnerable and safe.

Rise Up Café will be a socially beneficial for-profit enterprise, according to Gladwell. Ten percent of profits will go to nonprofits that help addicts with housing, employment, treatment, and more.

Gladwell, chair of New Jersey Recovery Advocates , recently won the 2016 Russ Berrie Make a Difference Award from Ramapo College.

She also is president of the Fr. Jim McKenna Memorial Fund .

To financially help the start of Rise Up Café, CLICK HERE .

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