Changing the state, one recovery story at a time.
Ever wonder how a dying town finds a new lease on life? How boarded up buildings become bastions for new businesses? How small rural communities can educate youth while empowering them to improve their hometowns? If so, you’re going to love meeting these Possibilitarians. They embrace bold ideas with purposeful action and inspire and mobilize others to do the same. They focus on solutions instead of problems. They think positively and act with passion. They turn possibilities into realities.
When Tammy Jordan was a young girl, she dreamed of owning her own farm when she grew up. That dream came true, and the rural Rainelle location is home to much more than vegetable gardens and farm animals. There, you’ll also find the Fruits of Labor Cafe and Bakery and a nationally recognized culinary and agricultural training center that serves as the center of operations for the organization Jordan launched in 2021. Its mission is to support people recovering from addiction. It’s a calling, she says, that focuses on people-building, which gives way to community-building.
Participants entering the Fruits of Labor program—often from drug courts—gain much-sought-after job skills in the culinary field in a safe place where recovery can happen. They learn how to grow food, they get experience preparing and serving it through the organization’s cafes, bakeries, and catering services, and they’re exposed to the ins and outs of running a small business. The program has boosted the court’s previous 50% graduation rate to 90%. Fruits of Labor puts participants on the path of living clean and rejoining their community in a meaningful way.
“When we invest in individuals working towards recovery, we strengthen their ability to rent a home, get their driver’s license back, keep a paying job, support their children, and become active in giving back to their community. We reconnect parents with their children,” Jordan says. “Our program is truly transformative for the individuals, their families, and even the customers that come into our cafes and have positive interactions with them. This is not a magic wand—I wish it were; I would wave it all over the place. But it’s an investment in the community and an opportunity for people to see that recovery is possible.”
Fruits of Labor has taken its cafe model on the road, partnering with the small town of Alderson to open a cafe in 2021, with Montgomery for a new cafe in early 2022, and with Beckley for a fourth cafe coming this summer. These locations all employ participants in the organization’s recovery program, and each occupy buildings—some historic—that were otherwise sitting empty. It’s a win-win-win—for the program participants, for the communities, and for the customers.
The success of the cafe model has inspired Jordan and her team to create Communities of Healing. Over the next three years, they plan to train 60 businesses across the state on how to employ those in recovery and to create a recovery-friendly work culture. “For any business owners out there who are really passionate about helping people, this is for you,” she says. “Oftentimes there is a natural tension between running your business and fulfilling your mission. The stronger your business is, the easier it is to add the mission layer.”
No doubt participating business owners will quickly see what Jordan sees. “Tears are a normal part of our day. This work is purposeful and meaningful, and it has changed me so much. It’s grown me to see things differently.”
2020 WEST VIRGINIA WONDER WOMAN TAMMY JORDAN
READ MORE ARTICLES FROM WV LIVING’S SPRING 2022 ISSUE
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