LAKEVIEW — Coffee, Hip-Hop & Mental Health, a nonprofit cafe that uses money from coffee sales to send people to therapy, has found a more permanent home in Lakeview after moving out of its old space last year.
The 2,200-square-foot cafe recently opened at 1051 W. Belmont Ave. It will serve as headquarters for the donation-based cafe’s mission of normalizing therapy and mental health discussions.
In its new home, the nonprofit hopes to raise enough money to match at least 20 people or families with therapy each month.
“There are so many social and health barriers in Black communities with a lack of resources,” said founder Christopher LeMark, who started Coffee, Hip-Hop & Mental Health in 2019.
“Lack of access to quality health care, economic stability, resources and basic survival needs plague individuals and families alike, making it a challenge to be receptive to therapy and its benefits,” LeMark said.
Coffee, Hip-Hop & Mental Health’s first event in 2019 attracted about 20 participants, who enjoyed live music and conversations with licensed therapists about mental health. But the movement quickly grew, with a second event being held a month later at the Promontory in Hyde Park, where 133 people showed up, LeMark previously told Block Club.
“We just kept growing and growing until March 2020, which was our final event because the pandemic hit and large gatherings couldn’t happen anymore,” LeMark said.
That’s when the nonprofit pivoted to running a People’s Food Drive, which has fed thousands of families since the pandemic started, LeMark said.
At the coffee shop, LeMark sells T-shirts, sweaters and other merchandise to keep the brand alive, he said. The cafe also sells specialty coffee drinks — named after artists like Lil Kim, Lauryn Hill and Biggie — and pastries supplied by other local businesses.
The cafe also offers free yoga every Saturday from 7-7:45 a.m., free group therapy with a licensed therapist every Sunday and free hot meals every Monday at 5:30 p.m.
LeMark hopes to expand the nonprofit’s offerings next year with after-school and youth programs; wellness resources like sound therapy and walk-in speed therapy sessions; monthly networking brunches for therapists; hip-hop cyphers; and book clubs.
“We can complain and look away or we can do something about it,” LeMark said. “This is our way of doing something about it [by] launching their healing journeys with hopes of changing community and family dynamics.”
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