GREEN BAY, Wis. (WBAY) -- A place of longtime solace and refuge for people in need is closing its doors this week.
For years, Action 2 News has followed the happenings at DarJune Café in Green Bay – a restaurant open for people in recovery, relapse or recent release from jail or prison.
“It is a safe place for people to come and hang out, kind of like a community center,” says Paula Jolly, a DarJune Café employee.
Today, a For Sale sign stands outside the café because inside customers are few and far between.
“We're not quite sure why, because we know there's a need, but we're not sure why people just aren't coming here anymore,” Jolly tells Action 2 News.
Jolly mans the counter at DarJune Café Monday nights, visiting with people from all walks of life.
“They don't even know where to turn, their families don't know where to turn. So by having us here, we can direct them, we can support them. That's kind of what a recovery coach does,” she says.
Then there are people like Cheri Branham.
After giving birth to her daughter while incarcerated, Branham decided to turn her life around.
“I got involved to help myself in my own recovery, and it's done incredible things for me,” she says. “[People at DarJune Café are] just so positive and encouraging and they really help you, they're supportive, they're inspiring. And they really motivate you to do better things for your life.”
After two years of working at the café, Branham has almost reached her fourth year of sobriety, and is making headway with her future goals. She’s set to start work on a degree in social work at UW-Green Bay this fall.
“I would definitely say DarJune saved my life,” she says.
It’s stories like these that have inspired the DarJune Foundation to continue, even after the café closes its doors.
“Last fall we opened a sober women's house, we have seven women living there right now, and a waiting list, a quite long waiting list,” Jolly says. “And we're in the process of opening another sober women's living house.”
Employees hope the second sober living house will be up and running in the next few months.
DarJune Café is set to close this Friday.