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A new Pahrump cafe supports those struggling with addiction

Great food at great prices for a great cause. That’s the concept behind a new eatery, LivingFree Cafe, which launched in April at 2050 North Highway 160, Suite 400 in Pahrump.

LivingFree Health and Fitness was founded by resident Shelley Poerio to provide those in the local community and surrounding areas with addiction recovery support and services. The nonprofit aims to help those in recovery stay in recovery by utilizing a whole-health strategy.

“Our approach promotes positive change via cognitive and behavior modification, regular exercise, healthy eating and planning to succeed. Our principles are founded on evidence-based clinic practices and are designed to improve the skills, knowledge and abilities of our clients,” the LivingFree website details.

With treatment, transitional housing and health and fitness programs, Poerio and her team serve a wide range of clients, both adults and adolescents. Now, LivingFree is even serving mothers through its transitional housing program, with a total of 17 beds available, including five for women and children, six for single women and six for single men.

To gain a better understanding of the impact LivingFree is having on those who are in recovery, the Pahrump Valley Times spoke with one of its clients, who said her life has already changed after one month into the program.

“It’s been helping me become a better person within myself and for my kids,” the woman, whose name is being withheld for privacy purposes, said. “They are helping me with the things I need, they are guiding me in the right ways, the right paths, to becoming independent. Before I came to this program, I was not making the right choices for myself or my kids and I am just really grateful for this program.

“Since I have been here, I feel like I have been working a lot harder at doing the things I need to do,” the woman continued. “I had no idea what I was getting myself into in the beginning but once I got here, I saw that it is a safe place for me and my kids. And I really like it because every day is getting easier and easier.”

Since establishing LivingFree, Poerio has worked diligently to expand the organization so it can have an even greater impact and the new LivingFree Cafe is just one example of her recent progress.

“At the end of last year, the Seattle Fish and Chips restaurant was going out of business here. That presented us with an opportunity to purchase it, at a big discount,” Poerio explained.

She said her original idea had nothing at all to do with opening a cafe. Rather, she was anticipating selling off the restaurant equipment and assuming the space for LivingFree’s activities. As fate would have it, however, she eventually found herself on the path to cafe ownership.

“In March of this year I talked to Chris Su at Java Junkies to see if we could enter a licensing agreement with them. And he and Brittany helped us in the first couple of months to just get rolling,” Poerio said, noting that the cafe is billed as “Powered by JavaJunkies.”

Some of the same popular sandwiches previously offered at the JavaJunkies inside of the Intermountain Health facility on Loop Road are available at the LivingFree Cafe, as are a limited number of JavaJunkies specialty drinks. The menu also includes a number of other items, for both breakfast and lunch. And though the food is a focus, Poerio emphasized that the real purpose behind the cafe is providing opportunities.

“The idea there is, employing people who are in recovery, so it’s starting to complete that full circle. You start with, you need to stop using, you need to go to treatment, you may need housing, you need time to start to establish the clean time and making better choices. Then you need to learn to establish boundaries and communication, understand what triggers you and what coping skills you have to with those triggers and as you move forward, how to get back to being a productive member of society. So really I see the cafe as a job-skills, workforce development project.”

Poerio added that it is key for people to know that all of the money made at the cafe will be used to bolster LivingFree’s work in the valley.

“We’re a nonprofit, but obviously, you’ve got to make money to pay the bills. What we’re hoping is that eventually, another positive outcome of the cafe, besides preparing people for work in the hospitality field, will be another leg of revenue for us to be able to put back into the community. Any net proceeds from the cafe goes back into our nonprofit programming,” she said.

LivingFree Cafe is located at 2050 North Highway 160, Suite 400, behind the Horizon Market at the intersection of Mesquite Avenue. The cafe is open Monday through Friday from 6:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. and Saturdays from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m.

For more information on the organization visit www.LivingFreeHealth.org

Contact reporter Robin Hebrock at rhebrock@pvtimes.com

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