Coffee klatch for mental wellness

From left, David Foster of Kiln Coffee Bar, Melissa Mulford of Sweet Kiwi Bakery, Josie Write and Sharon Lostumbo of Jitters, and Christina Terrell of Pressed out of Palisade, sit together on a couch inside of Sweet Kiwi Bakery located at 2700 Highway 50 in Grand Junction.

Six Grand Valley coffee shops are trying to do their part to spur important conversations in their businesses on Suicide Prevention Awareness Day.

On Tuesday, Kiln Coffee Bar, Jitterz Coffee Hut, Sweet Kiwi, Pressed Coffee Cocktail and Wine Lounge, Best Slope Coffee Company and Copeka Coffee will offer free espresso drinks for any two people who come in that day during regular business hours and tell a barista that they are there to "connect over coffee." The only caveat is that the orders must be for in-house and not to go.

School District 51 is also providing brochures and other information about suicide awareness and prevention that people can take with them.

Kiln co-owner David Foster spearheaded the effort and contacted the other coffee businesses through Instagram. He also met with District 51 Suicide Prevention Specialist Gen Morris to discuss how to plan and promote the event.

The other five shops quickly committed to joining Kiln.

"It was cool to see everybody's feedback immediately," Foster said.

The idea for an event such as this stems from a Kiln employee, according to Foster. That employee was involved with suicide awareness in high school and used the coffee shop as a place for meetings after it closed for the night on Sundays. Foster said this is when the idea to promote awareness and prevention came to the front of his mind.

Jitterz owners Josie Wright and Sharon Lostumbo said they frequently serve students from Grand Junction High School and are aware of the stigmas surrounding mental health. They hope to help students have a conversation that could help someone.

"We think about them all the time," Lostumbo said of the students.

The event is not limited to students, however, and anyone is welcome to take part that day.

The coffee shops are also promoting the day on their social media pages. They also recorded a video together to discuss the importance of having conversations about mental health.

"It's a beautiful way to use our establishments to be part of the community," Best Slope Owner Tom Griffith said. "It's really cool that we have a community that goes beyond competition where we see each other as friends."

Copeka Coffee Owner Kyra Rossier said she was really excited to see local businesses band together for something important.

"I think we can have a greater reach together," she said.

Morris also lauded the idea and said she was glad to play a part in it. Social interaction is important when dealing with suicide prevention and Morris said opportunities like this are necessary.

"It's a brilliant idea and showcases what a generous and caring community we live in," she said.

All the shop owners noted how collaborative the local coffee businesses are in the Grand Valley and that this is a prime example.

Pressed co-owner Christina Terrell said she noticed that fact immediately when her shop opened earlier this year and was glad to take part in this effort.

"I thought it was very brave to tackle something so vital and important," she said.

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