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Coffee Shop Serves Up A Sense Of Belonging

Maddie Bernard
Lauren Russel makes a latte at Northern Pacific Coffee Company

The connection between a local coffee shop and a community's mental health seems unlikely, but that is exactly what convinced a local nurse to purchase Northern Pacific Coffee Company in South Pierce County.

When the little coffee shop in Parkland, Washington shut its doors last fall, nurse Sarah Schofield took action. Schofield opened a nearby clinic specializing in mental health and addiction. She performed a community assessment and found that while the coffee shop was shut down, heroin addictions went up and there was a suicide. She was convinced opening the coffee shop back up would help turn things around. So even though she had never poured a shot of espresso, she bought Northern Pacific Coffee Company and reopened it in January.

Since the reopening, the coffee shop is always full. Schofield says she wants to use its popularity to help bring people to the health center for formal treatment but she also feels like she's fulfilling her mission as a nurse through the coffee shop by encouraging positive social networks. The coffee, the people, the sense of belonging. It's all good medicine.

This story is part of the KPLU-PLU student reporting project. Special thanks to Matthew Streib for his work as managing editor on this project.