Street Talk: Community roots run deep

Coming of age.

Roots Brew Shop in Grand Rapids has been able to keep its doors open by adapting and finding innovative ways to keep its customer base engaged amid ongoing COVID-19 guidelines and restrictions.

Roots celebrated four years in operation in 2020. It is located at 600 7th St. NW and considered an anchor on the City’s West Side, according to owner Mallory Root.

The café continues business operations by using CARES Act funds received from Kent County. In addition to retaining its eight employees and finding new and innovative utilization of outdoor space, Roots is planning a new way of connecting the community, Root said.

“We are driven by the thirst for ‘community’ in today’s fast-paced, throwaway, 140-character culture,” she added. “It’s by showing up every day despite the ups and downs that has allowed us to grow a loyal customer base. We have really served as a third space between home and work since 2016 when we opened our doors at the forefront of development near Bridge Street on the West Side. We are serving the West Side neighborhoods coffee while neighbors, students, businesspeople and other community-minded people view us as a familiar gathering space.”

Roots hopes to build stronger community ties by employing Hopin, an online platform where users can create interactive and personal events that can be global or local.

“Holidays can already be a trying time for people, with family and friends near or far, and with COVID restrictions,” Root said. “We wanted to create an intentional event to connect our Roots community in authentic ways.”

Hopin will allow the coffee shop to extend its community-building beyond its walls for an evening of friendly barista banter, learning new cocktail recipes with coffee, connecting with old friends, meeting new ones and closing the night out with an interactive game event.

“Sometimes it’s just asking someone if you can borrow the empty chair or if you can share the other side of the table,” Roots regular Tim Dark said. “It’s a place of organic connection. We’re still longing for that. Especially as the seasons change.”

Anyone visiting the coffee shop Dec. 7-19 will receive an access card for the Roots@Ho Ho Home event with their purchase.

“We’ll keep finding ways to keep our customers engaged beyond the interaction of a takeout order,” Root said. “They’re our community and our support system, and for that we are grateful.”

Early start

Ten local communities from across the U.S. — including Kent County — have been selected as recipients of a three-year grant from the Pritzker Children’s Initiative (PCI), all determined following a national, year-long competition to identify innovative community-based efforts to improve outcomes for infants and toddlers.

Each grantee organization will receive the grant funds in support of a strategy for a strong and sustainable infrastructure to improve access to programs and services that offer a foundation for a strong start for the community’s youngest children, crafted by the grantee and a coalition of public and private partners. The coalitions and their members will join other national, state and local organizations as part of the National Collaborative for Infants and Toddlers.

PCI anticipates that this work may collectively impact as many as 50,000 infants and toddlers by 2023, and potentially double that number by 2025.

First Steps Kent’s early childhood millage and resulting programs are in line for the funding.

“Supporting strong prenatal-to-three efforts in communities across the nation is key to expanding the numbers of young children in the United States with access to high-quality programs and services. We believe that by beginning prenatally and continuing these supports after birth, we are setting infants and toddlers on the path to success in school, and in life, is work upon which we can all agree,” said Gerry Cobb, director of the Pritzker Children’s Initiative. “We are pleased to support the priorities of the deserving recipients through these grants and want to build upon the innovative work being done by their outstanding public and private partners who have come together on behalf of the nation’s youngest children.”

In addition to Kent County, the other national grantees include: The United Way of Coastal Fairfield County (Bridgeport Prospers), Bridgeport, Connecticut; Children’s Trust of Alachua County, Alachua County, Florida; Agenda for Children, New Orleans, Louisiana; the Baltimore City Health Department, Baltimore City, Maryland; Ready for School, Ready for Life, Guilford County, North Carolina; the Adirondack Foundation (Adirondack Birth to Three Alliance), Adirondack Region, New York; Learn To Earn Dayton, Montgomery County, Ohio; Trying Together, Allegheny County, Pennsylvania; and the Tarrant County Health Department (in partnership with My Health My Resources), Tarrant County, Texas.

Young leader

Legacy Trust said its Senior Vice President and Chief Investment Officer Laina Mills has been named to the 2021 40 Under 40 Wealth Management class by the American Bankers Association (ABA).

Mills is the only Grand Rapidian on the list and one of two recipients from Michigan, Legacy Trust said.

The award recognizes wealth management and fiduciary professionals nationally who are committed to the highest standards of achievement at work and in their communities. Honorees are chosen based on their academic training, personal integrity, professional and community service, and leadership skills.

The full 2021 class will be announced and honored at the 2021 Wealth Management and Trust Conference hosted by ABA.

Mills’ wealth management career spans 17 years. Prior to joining Legacy Trust in 2009, she held positions with Summit Investment Guidance Partners and UBS. She is a chartered financial analyst and certified financial planner.

In her current role, she leads the development, execution and oversight of the company’s investment philosophy and asset management strategies. This includes asset allocation guidelines, tactical positioning, portfolio construction and investment policy design. She also manages individual and family office portfolios, working alongside the firm’s wealth management staff to deliver investment solutions that are customized to meet client needs.

Mills serves on a number of community boards, including Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park, Downtown Market Grand Rapids, Opera Grand Rapids and Catholic Charities West Michigan.

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