Elected officials meet in Tamaqua to find solutions to drug epidemic

By Dylan Fearon
August 26, 2019

TAMAQUA, SCHUYLKILL COUNTY — Hope and Coffee in Tamaqua isn’t your average coffee shop.

Yes- you can pick up a cup of Joe. But it’s really trying to sell recovery to drug addicts.

“That’s really, really important in a small community like this,” Tamaqua Mayor Nathan Gerace said.

The coffee is a couple of bucks. The hope, benefactor Lisa Scheller says, is priceless. She knows how useful this non-profit can be. Especially when it’s full of elected officials trying to end the area’s drug epidemic, like it was Monday.

Scheller even says she used to be an addict.

“I felt like I didn’t fit in anywhere and I felt when I drank and when I used drugs, I felt comfortable and felt that I fit in,” she said.

Now Scheller wants to help. Hope and Coffee just celebrated one year in town.

Congressman Dan Meuser is here for Monday’s round-table discussion.

He represents District 9- which covers Schuylkill County and says opioid overdoses have skyrocketed lately.

“We had over 5500 deaths addiction-related in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania,” Meuser said. “Schuylkill County was actually on the rise.”

Scheller and officials are trying to find solutions, along with getting people to come into the coffee shop and getting rid of stigmas.

Some say Hope and Coffee has brought numbers down this yea, along with more narcan for police and fire departments.

“You see law enforcement cracking down on drug dealers. You see organizations hoping to get the drug addicts the help that they need because they have a future and they have a hope,” Gerace said.