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Special delivery lifts spirits of women recovering from addiction during pandemic

Organizer Grace Rogers, right, house chef Fatima Abuzaineh, center, and Tavern House Kitchen + Bar co-owner Gregg Solomon unload lunches donated to the New Directions for Women facility in Costa Mesa on Monday.
(Don Leach / Staff Photographer)

Addiction does not abruptly end during a pandemic. In fact, the isolation, uncertainty and unemployment people may be experiencing could trigger depression and anxiety — two major drivers behind substance abuse.

While most of Orange County shelters in place, a small group of residents and clients at Costa Mesa’s New Directions for Women have been receiving addiction treatment on site and haven’t left the 4-acre campus for more than two months, says executive director Sue Bright.

“We’ve taken all the appropriate measures to ensure their safety and make sure everyone’s taken care of,” Bright said. “Nobody has been permitted on campus from the outside, and nobody is permitted to leave.”

So, to help lift spirits, staff and patients were treated on Monday to a special delivery — some 40 fresh deli meals from Newport Beach’s Tavern House Kitchen + Bar arrived courtesy of local donors who had New Directions in their philanthropic sites.

CEO Sue Bright, right, and house chef Fatima Abuzaineh bring in pre-packaged lunches donated by the Tavern House Kitchen + Bar to the New Directions for Women facility in Costa Mesa on Monday.
(Don Leach / Staff Photographer)

Grace Rogers, a Newport Beach resident who volunteers at New Directions and is friends with the owners of Tavern House, said the meal is intended to buoy those undergoing recovery and treatment during an especially difficult time.

“For the women who are there, it really shows support for what they’re doing,” said Rogers, a recovering alcoholic who volunteers at the Costa Mesa center. “It shows the community cares and believes in them.”

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Gregg Solomon, who opened Tavern House in July 2019 with partner chef David Wilhelm, said business has slowed noticeably since Orange County restaurant dining rooms began closing in March.

Seeing a need to give back, owners were looking for ways to reach to the community’s first responders and began collecting donations and delivering meals to local police and fire departments, hospitals and other facilities.

Solomon sent out an email to friends of Tavern House soliciting donations and recommendations for where meals might be sent. Several people specified their interest in helping local treatment centers during the pandemic.

“Food is definitely an integral part of who we are as people,” said Solomon, who’s helped deliver about 700 meals so far. “For me, it’s been therapeutic to see the response we’ve gotten.”

Bright said some 15 live-in clients and several staff members at the facility were treated to a meal of turkey sandwiches, potato salad and pickles — a little taste of the outside and a reminder that people care.

“They were very grateful that somebody thought enough of them, that someone has recognized their being here,” she said. “It’s nice someone is thinking of them.”

Tavern House Kitchen + Bar co-owner Gregg Solomon oversees delivery of pre-packaged lunches from the restaurant to the New Directions for Women facility in Costa Mesa on Monday.
(Don Leach / Staff Photographer)

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