Conversation Cafe: A Judgment-free Zone in Pottsville

POTTSVILLE, Pa. -- "Love has always been the answer. It's always going to be the answer, and that's what we want to cultivate here, is an environment of love."

That environment of love is palpable at Conversation Cafe on East Arch Street in Pottsville. This trendy spot is complete with comfortable couches and a sleek interior design, but this isn't your normal late-night hangout.

"The prevalence of talking about mental illness, addiction, trauma, teenage pregnancy, politics, homosexuality, all of those things, there's power in conversation. That's where it all starts. To get together and have a conversation, celebrating those differences is what creates unity," said Edward Perhonitch, CEO of Culture2Culture.

Conversation Cafe serves as a place in the Pottsville community for people to freely talk about those issues without being judged. The cafe is overseen by Culture2Culture, an organization that offers support and help to those dealing with mental health and substance abuse issues.

"I think a lot of people have been holding a lot in and need a place that they can come and feel normal, or feel welcome and feel safe," said Pastor Vincent Murray.

"Ever since I've been able to open up and relate to people, it's like a weight has been lifted off my chest. I can embrace more, be open and be myself now. I don't have to constantly try to be somebody I'm not," Tyler Strawdinger said.

"Even though you tried to reach out as much as you can, they have this distrust, so we try to knock it all down and give them abundant love and we get great response from that," said Joseph Szeliga, the former Schuylkill County chief of probation.

Each week, the cafe welcomes dozens of people, looking for a forum to discuss their issues as well as the issues surrounding their communities.

Conversation Cafe is open every Friday from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. This Friday, four comedians will be performing. The topic of conversation centers on the possible legalization of marijuana.

Notice: you are using an outdated browser. Microsoft does not recommend using IE as your default browser. Some features on this website, like video and images, might not work properly. For the best experience, please upgrade your browser.