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Jaywalker buys The Blend, launches new era

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John Colson

Sopris Sun Correspondent

For those in recovery from drug and alcohol addiction, there are two constants in life once the recovery process has begun — the need to avoid having a drink, one day at a time, and the need for coffee to satisfy one’s oral fixation and to keep up the energy to stay off the booze.

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And now the coffee and the sobriety are about to be blended, if readers will pardon the pun, in one establishment.

After three years of operations, The Blend coffee shop, 1150 Highway 133, is about to be taken over by Jaywalker Lodge, a for-profit alcoholism and addiction recovery center that opened its doors in 2005 and has spawned several ancillary facilities in Carbondale.

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According to Wade Newsom, the 38-year-old founder of the coffee shop, there is to be a “grand reopening” later in the summer to celebrate the change in management and, Newsom hopes, the continuation of what he described as the “wonderful, wonderful thing” he created and nurtured at the corner of Highway 133 and Garfield Avenue.

Newsom, who is married and lives in Carbondale, said he is not sure what he will do next, beyond a period of transition during which he will be helping Bobby Ferguson, founder and director of Jaywalker Lodge and the originator of the merger plan, and the new manager on site, Adam Mink, an alumnus of the Jaywalker Lodge program.

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Ferguson, originally from New York City, moved to the Roaring Fork Valley in 2003 with his wife, Andi, who had previously lived in Carbondale before hooking up with Bobby while the two were living in Minnesota.

Ferguson called himself “a prototypical jaywalker,” which he explained is a term used to describe drunks or drug addicts who have difficulty staying sober under traditional treatment programs and find themselves returning for treatment time and time again.

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He said he did achieve sobriety finally after a treatment program in Minnesota, although the standard axiom among the recovery community is, “once an addict, always an addict,” meaning constant vigilance is needed to stay clean and sober for life.

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Jaywalker’s start

In 2004, with financial and other assistance from his wife’s family, Ferguson bought and remodeled the old Paper Chase building on Main Street, and converted it to the Jaywalker Lodge, which is run according to the principles of the well-known 12-Step Program developed by Alcoholics Anonymous.

Soon afterward, recognizing a need to expand the facility, the family built a new apartment building, also on Main Street and called the Solutions building, to house alumni of the recovery program.

In addition, the Jaywalker Lodge has an office in the same building as The Blend, and an outpatient facility in a former third-grade classroom at the Third Street Center.

Ferguson said he has a staff of about 40 full-time employees, half of when are alumni of the Jaywalker program.

He noted that Jaywalker typically brings in about 75 clients annually for the 90-day program, the cost of which can range from around $15,000 to $45,000, according to information posted on the sober.com resource website.

Jaywalker, Ferguson explained, is “an extended care, residential treatment program for men aged 18 and older,” that is meant to take on clients who already have finished a more traditional 30-day treatment program, known as “primary care,” at another facility.

“Jaywalker,” he continued, “is the ‘what are you going to do afterward’ program, a place where you can start your life in recovery” by learning life skills, earn (or in many cases finish) a college degree thanks to a partnership with Colorado Mountain College and, now, undergo some vocational training as a barista.

Alumni Relations Manager John Schneier said it is his job to look out for the alumni, along with Alumni Coordinator Mark Kloster.

Working with perhaps 250-300 alums, Schneier said, the two oversee a large volunteer program that provides help to a range of local causes and nonprofits, as well as mentoring the alumni in their transition back into the general society and other types of assistance.

The coffee shop, Ferguson said, is something new for Jaywalker.

“This, for us, is a significant departure from the ordinary,” and is a venture that he and Newsom cooked up over the course of the last year or so.

“We wanted to create a hub, in terms of a retail, social venture, that connects our recovery community … to the Carbondale community at large,” Ferguson said.

“As an addict I was a drain on society,” he continued, and the coffee shop/volunteer program is a way to reverse that effect.

All proceeds from sales in the shop are to be donated to area causes and non-profits, Ferguson said, though the exact list of beneficiary organizations is still being drawn up.

“Our business is substance abuse treatment,” Ferguson said, “and the coffee shop is not a money-making venture, it’s a community building venture.”

“I, personally, couldn’t be more excited,” Newsom remarked. “I love this community. I wanted to walk away knowing it would continue to be a special community place.”

Ferguson said the business will substantially be unchanged, except for the hours of operation, which currently run from about 6:30 a.m. To 5 p.m.

The new hours, he said, will reflect the shop’s link to Jaywalker’s mission, staying open later on a couple of nights a week for scheduled functions.

The general public is welcome, he emphasized, both to get a cup of java and, if desired, to see how the transition has been accomplished and get to know the management, clients and alumni of the Jaywalker Lodge.

“We just wanted a gathering spot,” he said, “because integrating into the community is essential to the success of our program.”

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