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Village Life

Longtime local resident, massage therapist and coffee purveyor Patrick Harney, known around the village as “Brother Bear,” is currently recovering from an injury that has made it difficult to continue working — but friends and neighbors have stepped up to provide support as he heals. Harney is pictured in his former Dayton Street shop in 2021. (Photo by Matt Minde)

Village rallies around ‘Brother Bear’

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In a tale of resilience and community support, local resident Patrick Harney — known affectionately by villagers as “Brother Bear” — recently shared with the News his story of overcoming health challenges while grappling with the financial strain it has placed on his coffee business.

A longtime microbatch coffee roaster and wholesaler — you might see his coffee blends for sale locally at The Emporium, Tom’s Market, Sunrise Cafe and Clifton Mill — and owner of Brother Bear’s Mobile Espresso Bar, Harney has also practiced as a licensed massage therapist for over a decade. He told the News that he was in the midst of a routine massage session in January when he incurred an injury.

“I’ve got one move that I slide my client’s body and help stretch out the trapezius on the back,” Harney said. “And when I did that, I went to go take my arm out, and I heard a pop on my shoulder.”

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Initially, Harney said, he looked to massage therapy, acupuncture and chiropractic measures for relief, but the pain soon escalated. Harney was later diagnosed with a herniated disc, in which one of the rubbery discs between the spinal vertebrae is injured — in Harney’s case, an MRI revealed that a disc in his neck was pinching a nerve. The injury caused ongoing pain and led to limited mobility in Harney’s right arm.

As his health deteriorated, Harney said he faced the daunting reality of closing his massage practice, unable to fulfill his obligations at the Humanist Building due to his difficulty with movement. With mounting medical bills and the burden of a monthly loan payment for his mobile espresso trailer, Harney began to feel financial, as well as physical, strain.

“The coffee business is definitely feeling the financial burden of me not being able to do massage,” he said.

Despite the challenges, Harney said he has found solace and support within the tight-knit Yellow Springs community. Through social media outreach, he received a stream of encouragement and assistance, with friends and family rallying to lend helping hands. His partner, Phoenix Fyre, along with his brother and nephew, stepped up and helped him with bagging roasted coffee.

While physical assistance has been readily available, financial concerns continued to loom large, prompting Harney to temporarily halt online coffee sales to alleviate the pressure of managing wholesale accounts and website maintenance. However, following an outpouring of donations from local residents, Harney was able to reopen his website last week.

“Thank you to everyone who has donated and sent positive vibes and prayers,” Harney wrote on his Facebook page. “I’ve been able to order a little bit more coffee to roast and have the website back up for ordering.”

In the midst of adversity, Harney told the News he remains grateful for the unwavering support of Yellow Springs residents, who have been steadfast patrons of his coffee business since its inception in 2003.

Those interested in donating to Harney may do so via Venmo at @PatrickHarney70.


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