Northside Neighborhood House: Curating Community One Coffee at a Time

Lizzie Hickman

What does community mean to you? Is it a local swimming pool? Maybe it’s a coffee shop or restaurant where people gather. Whatever community looks like in your mind's eye, we can all agree that community members help each other.

The Northside Neighborhood House (NNH) has been offering a hand up to North Hamilton County community members since 1924 through education, thrift stores and emergency direct assistance.

Recently, NNH launched a new way to help community members through a cup of America’s favorite morning pick-me-up.

The Coffee Community Collective helps address the needs of the community through providing a large community space, private rooms for NNH staff to meet with clients and three additional offices for partner agencies: Helen Ross McNabb, Children’s Advocacy Center, Consumer Credit Counseling Services of Chattanooga, the Office for Family Empowerment and the Partnership for Families, Children and Adults.

“Our goal for the space is to provide greater access to resources for neighbors and create a collective impact to solve problems,” Dakota Gouger, NNH relationship manager, says.

During NNH strategic planning in 2014, the organization decided to focus on the northern end of their service area where resources are limited. As a result, they opened a second office and third thrift store in Soddy Daisy in 2016. This North Hamilton office housed an office for stability services. However, the space did not provide the privacy clients needed, as they had to enter through the thrift store to be seen for assistance. The NNH moved their thrift store to a new space in January of this year, and shortly after, they opened the Coffee Community Collective next door.

“We recognize that many families struggle with layers of issues that help them maintain stability. The Collective is innovative because multiple partners operate under one roof, providing resources that empower and strengthen individuals and families,” Gouger says.

The Coffee Collective is not reserved for partners or NNH specific meetings. The Community Room is open to everyone. The Collective is for anyone looking for a free space to hold meetings during their hours of operation (7 a.m. to 4:40 p.m.).

“We hope that community members who need help with electric assistance, parenting classes or rent assistance will schedule appointments with providers in our office. The collective also offers no cost computer and WiFi access,” Gouger says.

The mission to strengthen and empower community members is deeply rooted in the Coffee Collective, going beyond offered services into the suppliers they use. The collective stocks Mad Priest coffee, a local coffee roaster, because of their commitment to community. The Collective serves Mad Priest coffees, lattes, chai tea and mochas. On Tuesdays, they serve pastries from B’s Sweets.

For more information on how to reserve community space or services offered by NNH, contact Dakota Gouger at 423.605.2892 or email him at [email protected].

Learn more about Northside Neighborhood House here.

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