Kenny Sipes: Founder of The Roosevelt Coffeehouse
Why clean water, hunger and human trafficking as core issues of the mission of your nonprofit coffeehouse?
What’s really special about these issues is they’re non-divisive, so we can all agree wherever we stand faith-wise, political-wise, race-wise, economic-wise, that nobody should starve to death, no one should lack freedom and nobody should die of a preventable, water-born disease. So as divisive as the world is right now, it’s non-divisive and it’s been a blessing that it’s unified our community because those are things we can all get behind.
How can coffee serve as a vehicle for restorative justice?
First, being a youth pastor, I spent a lot of time at Starbucks and found myself trying to study and think through things. Second, the millennial generation, for us, we felt was gonna be the people that would totally get what we’d be doing. And, third, everybody will commune in a coffee shop. Just having some personal experiences traveling around…I mean, I went to places to pray, I went to places to be mentored, and every place I went I found a coffee shop to kinda debrief and meet.
I think, too, that we wanted to create the type of the community that felt the power of the ability to make a difference, and that the people that were making a difference in other places and in other ways would find this place a way to participate in that—to meet new people—and that happens all the time.
Our core values are love, justice, coffee, humility and optimism. That is the goal of every human being that works for me and works for this organization, so that everybody that walks into this space feels like “this is so inclusive, this is so kind.” Really, the core value is love.
What does it mean to have faith and create a community around faith for you?
I’m a guy that just believes it will be provided for, and that doesn’t make for the best business conversation. But we’re doing really well.
If you’re comfortable, you can’t exhibit faith. Faith requires risk. If you’re not willing to risk anything, what is the process by which you need faith? If you’re a faith believer, especially in the church, then you’re believing in a God you’ve never seen, you’ve only heard stories on, so if that’s the faith I have, if I don’t exhibit risk, than what’s the point of it?
The Roosevelt Coffeehouse partners with organizations “that we KNOW are building wells and latrines, feeding people locally and internationally, and rescuing and restoring dignity to those who have been enslaved.” Learn how you can donate and be a part of the mission at www.rooseveltcoffee.org.