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Coffeehouse for change: Companies, both large and small, give back in big ways

Photo by Athena Heckman

The Roosevelt

 

When one stops for a cup of coffee, it’s simply that: eight ounces of a caffeinated, sugary drink that gets one through the day, past the afternoon slump, or just a pick-me-up after a less than ideal week.

 

However, for Kenny Sipes, founder of The Roosevelt Coffeehouse, those cups mean a whole lot more. 

 

With a dream to do something bigger, and giving back in a way he hadn’t attempted before, Sipes began the process of what would become The Roosevelt.

 

Partnering with more than a dozen organizations to support its three missions, The Roosevelt gave back more than $60,000 between April 2015 and September 2017. The coffeehouse has three missions it focuses on: fighting hunger, providing clean water for those in need and fighting human trafficking.

 

“Through overseas mission trips, I was able to see the impact organizations have on the quality of life for so many people,” Sipes said, about how The Roosevelt chose its charities to serve.

 

Many might not even know the benefits their cup of Joe provides, but the clues are hidden all around the modern interiors of their two locations: downtown Columbus (300 E Long Street) and their newest addition in the heart of Lewis Center (303 Green Meadows Drive). 

 

The people also play a role in making the coffee shop stand out. “The Roosevelt works hard to foster a sense of community, caring and inclusiveness,” Roosevelt Lewis Center manager Darren Loeffler said.

 

Sipes said, at a conference for Olentangy Global Scholars, “The mission statement is largely displayed on the walls, something obvious, but the saucers for coffee cups and pastries are orange, yellow and teal to also represent the organizations.”

 

In addition to these accents, on Wednesdays, their social media is filled with the impact. “On Monday, you might see a t-shirt or mug you can purchase, and on Friday you may see a new latte. However, on Wednesdays, it’s filled with pictures of our chalkboard that shows what we’re doing or you may see a child that’s been helped through us,” Sipes said.

 

However, getting to the current point wasn’t easy. A bumpy road for Sipes, filled with challenges and obstacles at every corner, came before this ‘new life’. After working in ministry, Sipes said that it was hard to get people outside of the church involved and resigned from his position.

 

Without a job or so much as a business plan, he knew he wanted to follow a passion of helping others, focusing on social justice issues. From there, with inspiration from The Well, a Nashville coffee shop with similar goals, the idea of a coffee shop that unifies a community and gives back to others was born.

 

It took awhile for everything to come together, including learning about social enterprises and running a business successful enough to give back, but one thing they knew from the start was that the end goal was to unify a community.

 

“We didn’t affiliate ourselves with a church or religion as many nonprofits like ours do because in a world as divergent as ours based on race, political stance and more, we can all agree that no one should starve to death, be trafficked or only know dirty water,” Sipes said.

 

When one pays for their morning coffee and muffin, the action seems relatively special, but at The Roosevelt, that money will bring someone clean water, food for their hungry families and help alleviate the human trafficking crisis. That is what The Roosevelt built itself on in 2015 and prides itself with to this day.

 

“I think one of these two fronts— the mission or quality coffee— will get you in the door, and the other will keep you coming back,” Loeffler said. 

 

Simple ways to give back

 

Many people overthink the act of giving back, worrying that it has to be something of extreme physical value, like a large sum of money. However, charitable organizations make it simple. They help ease the minds of givers, as there is no ‘right’ way to give back, due to a wide range of giver’s circumstances.

 

Supporting a community can be as simple as stepping outside to help a new family moving in or an elderly neighbor, in need of assistance or company. 

 

According to moneycrashers.com, acts like “dropping by for coffee on Saturday morning, mowing the yard or accompanying elderly adults on a shopping trip” could be of great help to older people who often are reluctant to admit their loneliness to anyone. 

 

Providing service to the community is a great way to build relationships.

 

One could participate in a community watch program as a way to benefit their neighbors. According to moneycrashers.com, “assisting with neighborhood beautification and park projects, and represent the community to local government officials,” is another opportunity.

 

Giving back is also possible through non-profit organizations. The Community Refugee and Immigration Services, a local charity organization in Columbus, specializes with aiding immigrants and refugees in transition into the Central Ohio community, helping them reach self- sufficiency.

 

Community Outreach Coordinator Tyler Reeve said, “CRIS is dependent on community partners and donations to fulfill our mission. Beyond financial gifts, donations of cleaning supplies, kitchenware and the likes, volunteers can give their time during CRIS-sponsored events.”

 

Another legitimate Central Ohio non-profit organization is Ohio Health’s Fore Hope program, a therapeutic golf organization that attempts to help those with neurological and cognitive conditions.

 

“We only have one volunteer position, and they assist our participants with balance, socialization and also serve in a ‘caddy-like’ role,” Fore Hope’s recreation therapist Tyler Thompson said.

 

Additionally, Children Hunger Alliance is a statewide charity with a primary goal to eliminate hunger in Ohio. Collaborating with more than 800 people and organizations, they help kids struggling to find food. 

 

To volunteer, one must be at least 14 years old. This summer, CHA offered four open meal sites in Columbus to provide mentor kids a meal. 

Giving back can be done in many ways, and no act of giving is too small to be important. 

 

The ease of giving back

 

There’s nothing more heartwarming for some people than giving, and doing so has never been so convenient; companies all around America are giving some or all of their proceeds to charity.

 

Newman’s Own is one of these many companies. By selling frozen, store bought pizza, they donate everything they earn. “From the start, it has been a unique and amazing journey,” Newman’s Own administrative assistant Roberta Pearson said. 

 

“In 1982, legendary actor Paul Newman created his food company, Newman’s Own, Inc., a privately-owned, for profit company in which he donated all his royalties and after taxed profits from his sales to charities of choice,” Pearson said.

 

To some, donating all company royalties and after-tax profits is a bit uncommon, but Pearson explains that it was Newman’s vision.

 

“Paul Newman was a very successful actor and race car driver who felt ‘how much money can a person have, when others are in need?’  And so he gave back.”

 

With an abundance of great charities, Newman’s Own donates to multiple.

 

“His interests in assisting non-profits were very wide: from the environment, the elderly, the arts, humane, education, health, empowerment, nutrition, to name a few. Since 1982, we have donated $535 million dollars to 50,103 non-profits,” Pearson said.

 

Newman then created his own non- profit organization. “In 2005, when Mr. Newman became ill, he created the Newman’s Own Foundation, a privately owned, non-profit organization where now all royalties and after taxed profits are distributed by the board members to charities of their choice,” Pearson said.

 

Even with just a quick trip to the grocery store, an impact can be made. 

Meanwhile, Champion Companies located in Westerville are tackling the real estate market, one of America’s biggest industries.  

 

Champion is donating to four companies that include YMCA in Columbus, Big Brothers and Sisters, Children’s Hunger Alliance and Life Care Alliance. “Champion is going to match each resident’s donation dollar-for-dollar too, so the potential for a positive impact is even greater. This is the opportunity we’ve been looking for to engage our large audience to give back,” marketing director Lindsey Kohn said.

 

Champion has already matched $36,000 in resident donations.

 

Helping those in need stems from the mindset that, “At Champion, we firmly believe that no one person should be without the basic necessities, namely food and shelter. So, as the community continues to support the growth of our company, we feel it is imperative to, in turn, support the well-being of the community,” Kohn said. 

 

Both Champion and Newman’s Own are helping the community in the easiest way possible, making our world a better place.

 

History

 

For years, large corporations and local businesses have found charitable ways to give back to their communities and people in need. From tackling social issues to fighting hunger, there is a long history of companies doing good to help others.

 

In 1992, Dave Thomas, founder of Wendy’s, created the Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption. This nonprofit charity serves to find permanent homes for children currently in foster care.

 

According to the 2018 statistics from the foundation’s website, “400+ Wendy’s Wonderful Recruiters have found forever families for nearly 8,000 children in foster care across the United States and Canada.”

 

Another business with a mission for doing good, TOMS Shoes, was founded in 2006, hoping to be a leader in social issues around the world. On the TOMS website, there is a section titled “The TOMS Story” that describes the inspiration behind how the company got started.

 

Founder Blake Mycoskie witnessed children who lived without shoes while he was on a trip to Argentina and was inspired. “Wanting to help, he created TOMS Shoes, a company that would match every pair of shoes purchased with a new pair of shoes for a child in need,” according to the company’s website. Paired with their mission, the TOMS Shoes slogan became “One for One”.

 

From shoes to realtors to coffee, businesses impacting the community are everywhere.

 

Throughout the years, whether it’s a large company supporting a foundation or charity or a local shop giving back to the community, businesses have found ways to use their success to make an impactful change in the world.

 

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