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Coffee with a Cause

Posted on 08 May 2017


My name is Kenny Sipes and I walked away from my last job without a plan. I was convinced that I was to endeavor into some form of justice that worked to save lives.

Those two sentences have been a five-year journey and out if it we created the Roosevelt Coffeehouse. Redeeming Injustice is our nonprofit name and we do business as a nonprofit social enterprise called The Roosevelt Coffeehouse. This endeavor is important to me because I left all financial security and job security at the age of forty eight to create this social experience. There was no Plan B. This was it. It either succeeded or the bottom falls out.

With that passion we have been able to drive true community impact and impact mobilization. There have been beautiful measurables and unmeasurables when it comes to the difference we are making in our community. The measurables can be found in how much we've been able to give away and mobilize impact in the areas of hunger, unclean water, and human trafficking issues. We have given over $50,000 of life-saving work in the first two years of the Roosevelt. That impact has been in the form of everything from local Faith Mission meals and local human trafficking restoration to greenhouses in Peru, safe houses in Uganda, and wells in Africa.

The unmeasurables are the way the Roosevelt has been able to create a community of social changers. There is an endless supply of organizations working in the fields of justice and life changes that meet and coordinate many of their efforts from the confines of The Roosevelt. We see people from United Way, YWCA, The Columbus Foundation, City Council, Faith Mission, Greater Columbus Arts Council, Ballet Met, Center for Social Enterprise Development, She Has a Name, Design Outreach, Salvation Army, Central Ohio Rescue and Restore Coalition, and Catch Court. This is just a blip on the screen of those working together with us to change the world. We have seen people find our space, connect with others doing work similar to their own, and through those connections greater impact is birthed.

The greatest thing I've learned about leadership in running this organization is what has come with age and experience. Having run a retail experience many, many years ago I did a lot of hiring out of need. At the Roosevelt we hire the highest quality individual that will meet the standards of our shop. Our core values are love, justice, coffee, humility, and optimism. These core values set us apart and grow our impact substantially. So, when it comes to leadership I have been able to better lead by example and know that some things are non-essential. Simply put, I know how to pick my battles now as opposed to making everything a battle. I tended to battle everything I did not approve of in the past. Not anymore.

The leaders that have helped me along the way include Joe DeLoss of Hot Chicken Takeover who has been a sounding board of vision, planning, and finances. But, most importantly conveying the wisdom in caring for oneself. Allen Proctor of Center for Social Enterprise Development has helped me better partner the business with cause. I am altruistic to a fault; when it comes to doing business well Allen has done an incredible job of challenging me in areas of promoting the business so the business can create more impact. And also, David All of One Nine Ninety who challenges the status quo and inspires my inner dreamer.

I think you can see we align with YXU’s vision of "build leaders and strengthen communities" because I have been able to use my leadership skills to teach others how to lead with love and value at the forefront. We have taught our leaders to think of every person coming into the Roosevelt through the lens of value. They are no longer a customer, they are no longer somebody we have to get an order done for, they are important, they have value, they deserve our best, and our employees have become leaders that exhibit those attributes.

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