I am so happy to be working with people from so many walks of life to build our food co-op together. I have gotten to really know and count as friends people from different ethnic backgrounds, economic backgrounds, faith backgrounds, and geographic locations.
I would have never met Eddie Jenkins, Jr. who has had an amazing life working in a chemical plant in Muskegon, serving as a union leader there, working for the city of Muskegon to help nourish Black-owned businesses, serving as a leader at Brown-Hutcherson Ministries, and now serving on our co-op's Top Circle.
I would have never met Deborah Eid who grew up shopping at food co-ops in Minneapolis, raised three kids the same ages as mine, performed in a family folk music band, worked with unions in Minneapolis and Chicago, and somewhere along the way learned Spanish and Portuguese. She helped me found our food co-op.
I would have never met Ayanfe Free who lived most of her life in the south, attended a historic Black college, learned midwifery and other healing arts, makes amazing copper jewelry, and is now managing the New City Farm and working as an urban gardener and young people mentor there. She also serves on our Top Circle as our facilitator.
I would never have met Rochella Robinson who raised three kids on her own, relied on food pantries when they were young, and now works full time at Trinity Health as well as a second job at Marshalls, and still finds time to lead our Outreach circle with energy and grace.
Our co-op brings together so many people who would have never met each other because they live in different parts of town, attend different places of worship, move in different circles. I ask you, what other business enterprise can do this kind of city-wide community building? What other group is actively trying to bring people together from all walks of life to build a business that meets our needs and the needs for sustainable food in our region? Only co-ops can do this! What a noble mission we have.
Our owners include city and county leaders including City Commissioners Rev. Nathaniel Moody, and Ruth Kelly. County Commissioners Stephen Wooden and Monica Sparks.
We have business owners who are also co-op owners including Ryan Knapp, cofounder of Madcap Coffee, Steve Wiltjer, owner of the Lantern Coffee Bar and Lounge, Larry Hamlet, owner of Pure Hot Yoga.
We have affordable housing developers Ryan Schmidt (ICCF), Stephanie Gingerich (LINCUP), and Stephen Wooden (Dwelling Place) as co-owners of the co-op.
We have co-op owners who are women who sing at the bedside when people are close to dying who are members of the Grand Rapids Threshold Choir, Betty Kronemeyer, Marcia Good, Stephanie Gingerich, Ginny Kelling and Rebecca Kirk.
We have people of all ages, income levels, working, raising families, going to school, paying bills and serving their community in many ways and all of them are co-owners of this food co-op.
When you join the co-op, you are joining an amazing group of people and you will get to know people you would never have met any other way. We look forward to welcoming you to our amazing and wide-ranging community.