CHICAGO — Inside a place focused on physical health is where you’ll find a pop-up coffee shop with a mind toward mental health.
The Lululemon store at 944 W. North Avenue is the latest space for the Chicago non-profit Coffee, Hip-Hop & Mental Health that helps Chicagoans get free therapy.
The pop-up shop is about to undergo a transformation just a few miles away.
The coffee shop is planning to go to Belmont Avenue near Sheffield Avenue in Lakeview.
The vision behind the newest, larger venture comes from Christopher Lemark who founded Coffee, Hip-Hop & Mental Healtmore than two years ago.
The plans are done and build-out is underway to transform this store front into a home away from home for customers.
The money made from the shop, scheduled to open in the spring goes into its mission to pair up those seeking therapy with those providing it and the help to pay for it.
“At the end of the day, the goal is to remove their financial barriers,” Lemark said.
Barriers that exist in every neighborhood.
Lemark says the city isn’t doing enough for its residents’ mental health.
“O think they’re trying. We’re all trying,” he said. “If you look at the violence on the South and West side and all the stuff happening in the city, we’re experiencing a mental and emotional breakdown, collective trauma, unresolved healing. Things that’ve been happening for years and years. And Covid is the thing that blew the lid off.”
Right now, Coffee, Hip-Hop & Mental Health helps about 80 people with therapy with more than 100 on the waiting list.
Lemark’s hope is to eventually fund 250 people as the organization grows — paid for by sales at the shop.
He is trying to fill a need one conversation at a time.
A GoFundMe was started to help the coffee shop open up their larger location.