Cafe for the deaf and hard of hearing in New Jersey

A special room is now open in Newark for the deaf and hard of hearing, but it has not been easy to get started, especially in the past two years.

“Here it is,” says Sandy Rivers, “I’ve been open for three months and I’m desperate and desperate for help.”

Sandy Rivers needs help. Especially so that she can turn around and help people like her parents who were both deaf.

“As my mother raised us, I realized that she lived and died in a society that wasn’t built for her or my father. And that was kind of heartbreaking,” Rivers said.

A society that she says doesn’t care about the hearing impaired – and still doesn’t really -.

“They knew they couldn’t go to the movies because nobody was speaking for them,” said Rivers. “They knew they couldn’t go to festivals because nobody looked like them. They knew they couldn’t go to good food – or any restaurant – because nobody spoke like them.”

But this downtown Newark cafe is their solution.

Deaf’s Delight is the first of its kind for the 850,000 New Jersey residents who have some form of hearing impairment.

“Often you go to places and they don’t have the things, equipment, communications,” says Thyson Halley of the New Jersey Deaf Advocacy Group, which also helps promote Deaf’s Delights. “”[There‚Äôs a] lack of communication for the deaf. “

Halley previously said Garden Staters would have to go to Washington DC to find something similar.

“This is so important for our church to have a place of its own,” he adds.

But it’s a place Rivers struggles to pay for. Not because business was bad – but because of a series of setbacks that most would not wish their worst enemy to do.

For starters, she has been paying rent for the room since 2019. However, due to COVID, it was only able to open in January of this year.

So for the whole of 2020 it wasn’t considered an official deal, which meant she couldn’t apply for COVID-related small business loans.

Another major hurdle: Rivers says $ 77,000 worth of equipment was stolen shortly after it secured the space in May 2019.

So for all of 2020, it wasn’t considered an official deal, which meant she couldn’t apply for small business loans related to Covid.

Another major hurdle: Rivers says $ 77,000 worth of devices – essentially her life savings – were stolen shortly after she secured the space in May 2019.

After that – when she could no longer afford to make mortgage payments – she gave up the house she had lived in for 25 years to save Deaf’s Delight.

“I don’t want to lose this place. I definitely don’t want to lose anything I just started,” said Rivers.

She has set up a GoFundMe page in hopes of keeping it open and potentially adding outdoor tables soon to increase capacity while increasing the likelihood of two communities, “two worlds,” as she calls them – the hearing and the non-hearing – can come together.

“This is definitely the community that hasn’t been seen in a long time. I don’t want that to happen anymore.”