To most, the adventure of driving a cheap car through Europe, all the way to Mongolia would seem unrelated to the life-changing work of Recovery Café in Seattle, Washington. To Jay Neilson, however, the two are inextricably connected. Driving the Mongol Rally to raise money for Recovery Café, Jay recalled how he once felt so trapped by his own addiction and mental health struggles, that even the smallest feat felt impossible. “When I was going through the hardest process in my own recovery, it felt like forever. I didn’t feel like I was going to have personal liberties again or freedom to get out and explore, because I was so trapped by my mind.” Traveling from Prague, through Russia, Turkey, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, and beyond, he was reminded of how his own life had been transformed by the healing message of the Café. “Recovery Café was an instrumental part of my own recovery, and here I was able to experience freedom because of that recovery.”
Jay and his friend Houston went on to raise money through a GoFundMe page, which he hoped would allow others like him to experience the joyful freedom of recovery. For Jay, Recovery Café not only provided support in a difficult time, but helped to destigmatize the concept of recovery and open him up to receiving help. Jay successfully completed the Mongol Rally and is now finishing up his college career and working as a photographer in Atlanta. “My passion is perspective. I channel that through photography.” Jay’s perspective has certainly shifted over the last few years from hopelessness to freedom through hope. His ongoing goal is to pay forward the gifts that were given to him by helping others to shift their perspectives in the healing community of Recovery Café.