Almost four years to the day after we started renting a 10,000 sq ft facility to create a recovery community center in Kalamazoo, Michigan we received news that the building is going to be sold out from under us. Sadly, the new ownership compromises our ability to promote a safe space for the community we serve and pushes us out of the place we've invested so much into. This news has been a big blow to everyone who works out of COPE or attends our support groups, classes, and events. We're devastated and currently unsure of what's to come next.
Besides housing COPE's activities, the building we are in hosts office, meeting, and storage space for other organizations. We also host an in-house therapist who works collaboratively with us and sees clients at our facility daily. By losing this building, COPE, Kalamazoo Harm Reduction, our therapist, and the many different groups or teachers who operate alongside us would all lose our space. There's no other organization or come-as-you-are recovery space like this in Kalamazoo. Losing the progress we've made so far in this building, especially after experiencing so many setbacks due to COVID-19, would be detrimental to our organization and a real loss for the recovery community in Kalamazoo.
Because this building is so ideal for us, we're raising money to counteroffer the sale and hopefully remain growing in this space we've made our home. If we can't retain the building we're currently in, we need funding to find a comparable facility as soon as possible. We may also need money for legal aid. If all else fails, we'll use the money we raise for storage spaces to put our belongings into until we figure something out. Lastly, if a miracle happens and we somehow don't need money for a building, the money we raise will go directly to operations and programming to help our organization grow.
We know this is a big ask, but any donation will help us while we figure out what's next. If this is a cause you believe in, please share this with as many people as you can, and feel free to reach out to us if you have something other than a monetary donation to offer. We want to thank you all in advance for your contributions as well as for all the support we have received from Kalamazoo over the years.
The idea for COPE first came about after experiencing the loss of my daughter Marissa to a heroin overdose in 2012. When she was struggling with her addiction, I couldn't find the resources to get my daughter the help she needed. I also didn't have the support I needed to guide our family through the unique difficulties we faced as a result of her addiction. We all struggled, felt defeated, and felt alone. Our relationships with her and our connection as a family began to suffer at a time when we needed each other the most. By the time of Marissa's fatal overdose, the medication naloxone (an antidote to an opioid overdose) was not yet available for distribution within the community. Had everyone been allowed to carry naloxone back then, her life could've been saved. I then testified to change the law to allow naloxone to be distributed among the community and vowed to get naloxone into the hands of as many people as possible. With funding from Southwest Michigan Behavioral Health, I began distributing free naloxone kits to eight counties in Southwest Michigan in 2015. I also began a family and community support group in Kalamazoo in 2014.
As both of those ventures grew, so did my idea for a dedicated resource network and community space. Since I knew how difficult it can be to find and navigate substance use and related resources, I envisioned a space where people who are struggling with problems related to substance use or addiction could come, find resources, find community, and build supportive and healthy connections. I envisioned a space where families could get guidance and support. I also envisioned a space where healing, creativity, and joy could persist despite the overwhelming hardship that many people struggling with addiction experience every day. As a result of this vision, COPE was born. After months of searching for the perfect space, we found the building we operate out of today.
Since arriving at this space in 2017, COPE has hosted regular support group meetings, recovery meetings, and harm reduction based meetings for people experiencing addiction or working on recovery, as well as meeting for their families, friends, and support systems. We have offered regular classes including yoga, boxing, beginning guitar, tai-chi, and meditation. We've hosted various large educational programs, overdose prevention and Narcan trainings, recovery fairs, art tutorial events, family dinners, sober holiday parties, and more. We've offered resource recommendations and recovery coaching to help people navigate finding or maintaining recovery. We've offered harm reduction programs for those who are still in active drug use. We've also partnered with other community groups or substance use and recovery related organizations in order to best support the recovery community in Kalamazoo. All of our programs are offered for free or by-donation and are open to the public. Many of our programs are also accepted for participation credit by the Kalamazoo Drug Courts. Approximately 300 people participate in our programs annually and that number was only expected to grow as we added more.
Our long term vision includes increasing our offerings of art, music, and movement activities, as well as expanding our recovery-supportive meetings and socializing events while becoming a drop-in center so we can be available whenever people need us most. The space we are currently in has been perfect for actualizing that vision. It also has a large parking lot, is close enough to downtown Kalamazoo, and resides on the bus-line, which are all necessities for our program. Between factors such as those, as well as the size and layout of the building, finding a comparable spot we can afford will be an uphill battle. We desperately don't want to lose the progress we've made or see a place as unique as this have to close.
-- with gratitude, Nancy King
- "I’d like to do everything I can to help save this safe haven. That building and those meetings saved me in so many ways! It’s the only place I felt comfortable to be totally myself, no matter how I looked or where I was in life I always felt at home there. I can’t imagine not having that outlet, especially during these hard times. I really hope we can save this wonderful safe spot." -- B.H.
- "COPE is an organization that saves people’s lives……saves relationships…..helps families and their loved ones navigate the twists and turns that addiction creates. I found the organization while looking for a place to help me deal emotionally with my loved one who was caught up in addiction for many years. I was heartbroken and broken and had tried a couple other organizations that were impersonal and left me feeling even more alone and less equipped to "cope", but when I went to my first meeting with Nancy King.....I found a new "family" that truly cares for each other. I was no longer alone in my struggles. This organization is unique in that the group is made up of families who have loved ones in addiction's grasp and also those who are in various stages of recovery. There is so much knowledge shared there from these various perspectives and life experiences. COPE has also hosted many helpful classes to help us deal with the emotional trauma and exhaustion that comes with dealing with addiction. I attended a few different types of yoga, tai chi and boxing and there was also painting and guitar and various other classes offered to heal your mind and help to deal with stressful situations. Above and beyond the meetings, Nancy was available to me day or night to give me information about help, advice and guidance when I was frozen emotionally and didn't know what to do to help my loved one. My loved one is now a success story. I say it again.....my loved one is now a success story!!!!!! We were able to come out the other side still loving each other, forgiving each other and closer than ever. Addiction did not win. It did not tear us apart. I can't thank COPE or Nancy King enough. Truly." -- J.H.
- "This is gunna be a little longer than a couple sentences, so bear with me. My backstory, ten years active addiction, over four years sober, blah blah blah. I’ve been coming to COPE for most all of those four years and I feel like I've found more of a family than my own flesh and blood related brothers and sister. I found a place that would accept me when seemingly no one else would. It’s a place that I can go, unhindered, at any time I want to seek out serenity and clear my head. COPE, for me, represents an elixir for all that is jumbled and restless in my head, simply by existing as a building and housing the memories I've made there. To know I have access to that ANY TIME I want, which is ABSURDLY UNHEARD OF in the addict community, is gold to me. It’s also the only thing I've been able to hang onto in some instances where I've been at the end of my rope. It’s the one constant I have in my life, the one place that’ll never judge me, that’s always there to offer me solace or respite, offering me multiple different ways to achieve it, whether just sitting peacefully out in the back garden and meditating, or downstairs boxing, coming to groups or yoga, but ANY SINGLE ONE of those being removed takes away from the integrity that is the idea behind COPE! It offers multiple avenues, to a confusing and unpredictable illness that a severe amount of people struggle with. That’s my answer. What COPE is to me? It represents the closest thing to both a universal answer and unconditional acceptance of every addict, mental health patient, PTSD survivor, abuse victim, homeless person etc. and it’s available ALL THE TIME, which is so revolutionary in the world of addiction. Everything is only certain hours, so if you’re feeling like shit in the middle of the night, don’t do that. Only feel like shit between the hours of 9-5 Monday through Friday. It doesn’t work like that and Nancy, Devon, everyone at COPE knows that. COPE represents my hope for the future of the addict world. It’s far too much to explain in even a few paragraphs because COPE is a manifestation of a dream I previously thought would never happen because of the stigmas around addiction. It’s a belief that I never thought I’d see because too many people stereotype addicts. To think someone has the same views as I do about addiction and mental health, and for it to be so progressive, means COPE is also the foundation for a new, intelligent perspective toward homeless, addicts, and all those who fall under its giant, boundless embrace. I should end it there." -- C.V.
- "I have been a recovery based guitar instructor at COPE Network since February of 2019. The environment surrounding the weekly lessons is that of openness and non discrimination. This is the environment surrounding the COPE building as a whole. Persons are able to participate in the multitude of classes, activities and outreach supported by and at COPE. My role is one of fulfillment in that I am able to share my skills and life experiences to those who need a friend or a healthy outlet if only for 1 hr a day. My recovery benefits from these acts of service. It is important for addicts and people who just struggle through life to know there is a judgement free zone where they can share and be safe to not harm themselves or others. I will continue to commit my time and resources to COPE. I believe in its stand for the community to not treat addiction as a taboo but as an illness of the physical and spiritual. Without places like COPE, those suffering are at more risk of continuing on learned harmful behaviors." -- S.S.
- “Cope Network has been a life changing experience for me. I have been involved in group therapy and have seen a therapist at Cope Network for the past several months. Substance abuse has been an ongoing struggle for me for the past 10 years and Cope has given me hope for a brighter future. The therapist I see is amazing and I could not ask for better staff. I have come a long way in the past several months after being involved with their programs. It is a safe place for healing for so many people like me. I'm not sure what I would do without Cope Network. Their staff, facility, and other clients are life savers. I have been to many different facilities for recovery over the past 10 years and Cope Network is definitely one of the most immersive and positive places I could ever ask for. Thank you Cope Network for caring about my future and allowing me to be vulnerable and heal. I know Cope Network is a positive environment for so many people. I do not know what I would do without their support and love.” -- B.M.
- “I have been attending SMART recovery meetings at this facility since 2019. This is an awesome place of recovery for recovering addicts of all walks of life. SMART recovery meetings being held at this building have life changing events for people on some of the strongest drug addictions in America. I have seen and witnessed some life changing events of people struggling with addiction marijuana, opiates, meth, crack, cocaine, alcohol, gambling etc. You are always welcome to be a part of these great life changing programs. I have 13 years clean and I attend meetings at this facility on a regular basis and my experience with SMART was nothing but caring and loving counselors helping people get on their feet. The facilitator Nancy King has helped me throughout the COVID-19 pandemic with mental issues and restoring a driver’s license and with online Zoom meetings. With the rise in drug addictions, alcohol, divorces, mental health problems this is a much needed program in our community. I wish to thank the outreach program for all the support in helping me in my recovery and wish that this building can stay under their care and guidance and support for a community with mental health issues and substance abuse problems. Thank you kindly for your attention in this matter.” -- C.D.
- "In the 2 years that I have been associated with Cope Network, I have had the privilege of getting to know Nancy King. She is Cope Network. Her passion, her life's work is to provide services for those who feel that no one has faith in them anymore, so many broken promises, so many failed attempts to stay in recovery. This is where Nancy's work begins. She provides compassion, education and support for people who have given up on themselves. She provides hope and avenues to empower. She does all she can to encourage those in desperate circumstances to keep trying. I have worked in mental health for many years. I have never met anyone that is truly accepting of all who cross their path. Nancy is that person. I asked her if I could work out of the Cope Network building over 2 years ago. I did so because I was in awe of the loving, accepting environment that she had created at COPE. I have worked in many locations and have never felt proud to be affiliated with a space as I have been while at COPE, The members of COPE, the volunteers, the facilitators and Nancy's family members are all wonderful, compassionate people with a common message. I have been so very happy to be a part of this mission. I am so frustrated that we are losing the building that has meant so much to us. I know that the love and compassion will continue in another building but it is a very difficult situation. I am glad to provide my support to COPE." -- L.E. Therapist
For more information about our organization visit copenetwork.org
To receive a free Narcan kit of your own, visit copenetwork.org/contact-us
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