For Richmond Police Officer Daniel Kirstein, being with overdose victims when they come back to life is an experience that has weighed heavily on his heart.
In his five years with RPD, Kirstein said dealing with overdoses can be a daily occurrence and a big burden to carry.
“People would be deceased, and we would bring them back to life, and I am there in their first moments where they are being brought back into the world. It is a weird experience as an officer, and even as a human,” Kirstein began. “Of course, there are investigative questions I have to ask, but I also ask those who come back, ‘What would it take to prevent this from happening again?’
In 2020 alone, nearly 50 people in Madison County died of an overdose, according to county Coroner Jimmy Cornelison.
If the trend continues, he said, the county is likely to double that number in 2021.
“Across the board, people I was talking with would all say, ‘I can do recovery and have done it, but it's after the recovery and after leaving the program.”
Because of this, Dan and his wife India — a foster care social worker — felt led to do more in the community they love.
Two weeks ago, the couple announced their soulful enterprise, EnRich, a family-experience restaurant that employs those in active addiction recovery or experiencing houselessness.
But the work to make the dream come to life began nearly two years ago, according to Dan.
“We felt we were being led to do something more for the community,” he began. “(India) was in social work, and I have been a cop for five years, and we had more insights into the opioid epidemic, especially locally. There were more overdoses, and I was encountering it almost daily, and we thought, ‘How can we do something more than what we are doing right now?’”
In brainstorming, the couple admitted to always wanting to open a restaurant. More specifically, they wanted to open a restaurant similar to one they experienced on vacation together, including do-it-yourself pancakes.
“So people will be able to come in and sit down at a table with a drop griddle in the table,” Kirstein explained. “Then you can order all the ingredients you will want inside or on top of your pancakes.”
With that idea, combined with a goal to only employ those in recovery or experiencing houselessness, the couple knew it was what they wanted to do.
Kirstien stated he got involved with Rob Perez, owner of DV8 Kitchen in Lexington, about starting their own soulful enterprise — a business concentrated on soulful outreach into the community and not a monetary goal.
“The priority of EnRich is to help get the people in recovery into a job and back into the community and society,” Kirstein said.
“It is going to be a lot of fun, and there are not many soulful enterprises around, and we are excited to bring it to Richmond,” he added.
Now the couple has introduced their mission and brand to the community, the next step the non-profit faces is fundraising to purchase a building.
“Fundraising is the next step, and our goal is to purchase a building as soon as we can as donations are given to us,” he said. “One-hundred percent of the donations are going to the building fund and to purchase a building. The faster we can do that, the faster we can open.”
While that is taking place, Kirstein said the couple is working to make connections with opioid response teams and programs such as Liberty Place Women’s Recovery Center, the Madison County Opioid and Empowerment, Kentucky River Foothills, and the Madison County Harm Reduction Team to name a few.
"Kentucky River Foothills is thrilled to welcome EnRich to Richmond and commends their purpose and mission," said Karen Atkins of Kentucky River Foothills. "As an agency that operates Liberty Place, a long-term recovery center for women and MORE, the Madison Opioid Response and Empowerment program, we know firsthand that additional programs and services that offer hope are needed in our community. EnRich will be much more than a restaurant. It will be a safe place for people to thrive in recovery. We look forward to partnering with them and working together to provide solutions in Madison County."
“The recovery community has been well receptive of this, and to sum it up into one term that we have been hearing, it is that this is long overdue, and I would agree with that,” Kirstein said.
However, the EnRich enterprise is more than just a restaurant. Like DV8 Kitchen, EnRich will include workshops and training classes for their employees after the breakfast and brunch rush has closed.
Already, Kirstein said businesses have reached out to offer services such as financial management training, dental cleanings, and even goat yoga.
“We will be open in the morning and early hours so the employees can earn good money, and in the afternoon, they are free to go to meetings they may have or training that we hope to offer,” he said. “They get paid to interact with the community in a positive, safe way that will reintroduce them into the community, and in the afternoon, they can dedicate themselves to it.”
He explained EnRich was by no means the “end result” for any individual but a stepping stone to make individuals job-ready.