A sober girl in a brewery town

When I moved back to Roanoke after 12 years, the Blue Ridge Mountains moved right back into my heart. It was like we’d never been apart.

There is little I love more than my town. Just like the other loves of my life—my three stinky boys (a husband and two sons), the four beating and two still hearts of my siblings, a strong cup of coffee, and a sweaty run—Roanoke isn’t perfect and proves its imperfections every day.

I love it still. My personal, professional, social and recreational life wraps around my interest in making this town as good as possible by giving it my best.

The years I spent away were also years spent away from my own best self. Coming back to Roanoke was the first step in a slow journey of getting back to me. To the me who runs the trails in this town. Who rubs elbows with people passionate and driven enough to make a difference in this world. Who believes in the shared heartbeat of humanity.

Part of that journey included giving up alcohol for good.

So, when the biggest news out of Roanoke in years was that a brewery from Oregon chose my love as its new home—I felt a little left out.

How could I celebrate the news with my friends and neighbors? It’s a place I will likely never visit. Gear I will never wear. Beer I will never taste.

And Deschutes isn’t the only brewery to come to Roanoke or beer-related news to ripple through our community. 2016 was pretty much the year of the beer.

If you don’t know how big of a deal this is in Roanoke, then I’ll give you an example.

Tomorrow, July 15, is the second annual Deschutes Street Pub in Roanoke.

Today, in my regular Friday yoga/Pilates class, the instructor started class by asking who was going to the Street Pub. Hmmmmm…

The furor of Deschutes choosing Roanoke for its East Coast home reached absolutely astonishing heights.

For the days following the announcement in March 2016, messages of Deschutes coming to Roanoke were literally everywhere.

Runners, bikers, non-profit friends, parents, grandparents—everyone it seemed—was over the moon psyched to celebrate alcohol and what it means for our economy, our community, our sense of self.

And I was over here, like, nope.

Being five years sober and realizing how much more real and awake life feels, I have a difficult time encouraging an entire town to get intoxicated on the idea that our future is better for adding more beer.

But, I’m not a total downer.

I’ll be there at the Street Pub representing Family Service with our partner organization United Way of Roanoke Valley. Last year, I shared booth space with SARA (Sexual Assault Response Awareness).

The saving grace of being a sober girl in a brewery town is that at least the most popular brewery to move to Roanoke believes in giving back to its community.

Family Service doesn’t receive funds from the Street Pub, but Deschutes gave $81,000 back to Roanoke after the 2016 Street Pub.

This year our partner organization Bradley Free Clinic, which operates The Hope Initiative to intervene on behalf of addicts to help them turn over their drugs and get into treatment, is one of the organizations to benefit from the event.

I continue to be excited about Deschutes in Roanoke because I hope it encourages other companies to realize the importance of giving back to our community. I hope it attracts more companies that prioritize people and their lives and needs.

Creating jobs and bringing tourists and creating a fun community will never relieve the need for helpers. By investing in our home, by giving to those who struggle, by believing everyone deserves a chance to heal—we make hope a basic human right.  

Hope, not hops.

Or, at least Hops and Hope.