Local Non-Profit Opens Coffee Shop To Help Vets
GAINESVILLE - Veterans struggle with many difficulties when adjusting to civilian life. One local organization is trying to make that process an easier one by combining nature and technology to help veterans heal.
The Warrior Institute here in Gainesville has been offering veterans recreational therapy programs since 2011. Now they are branching out and building a coffee shop-- not only to raise money for their services but help employ vets and give them a space to hang out.
Restoration through recreation-- Hiking, biking and climbing are some of the things the warrior's institute encourages veterans to participate in. Tonia Zyburt a co-founder said, "So these might be day long programs... Again, we'll go out for the day and paddle at a local river or hiking at a state park... That kind of thing. Or we'll have week-long programs, where we'll do some one-on-one work. We'll just go out and do skill building in an activity of their choice."
Warrior Institute focuses on rehabilitation & optimal conditioning for veterans with PTSD. "This is a place where I feel like I am at home, and I am a part of something,” Cindy Hendricks said. Hendricks served in the marines for 5 years; she says Warrior Institute has helped her deal with PTSD.
"Knowing that they care enough, not having being overseas and all that... Seeing that they're still that dedicated to put all that effort into doing this stuff for us, is really awesome," Hendricks said.
An alternative approach they use with the veterans is biofeedback; it recognizes levels of stress. "It's a little netbook with an ear clip and it projects images about the person's nervous system right on the screen. And the training part of biofeedback is actually a breathing response... A lot of healing can happen, just breathing slowly and correctly," Zyburt said.
Warrior Institute is currently building a coffee shop, which will be up and running in April. Revenue from the shop will fund their ongoing programs.
Zyburt said, "We want to create a substance and alcohol free space for veterans, there are some folks that are struggling with substance abuse, alcoholism and we want to create a really safe space... And a place to come that kind of replaces that bar or a favorite hangout."
The Warrior Insitute has an Indiegogo account set up to help make the coffee shop happen. So far they have raised about 13,000 and their goal is to reach $15,000 by midnight. If you'd like to donate or get more information about their services, click here.
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