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Coffee and conversation: GR cafe raises money, awareness for Ukraine

shift exterior.jpg
Posted at 10:01 PM, Mar 16, 2022
and last updated 2022-03-16 22:28:26-04

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — It’s often in coffee shops where people have the best conversations. That rings true in Grand Rapids’ Shift Coffee + Culture.

The usual cafe conversation shifted to more of a group discussion Wednesday, related to what’s happening in Ukraine.

“I think everybody has questions and everybody probably has similar questions, and they don't know who to ask,” says Owner Deanna Bossenbroek. “Who better than a Grand Valley professor who's in political science?”

With an iced coffee by her side, Dr. Heather Tafel, a political science professor at Grand Valley State University and an expert on Russia and post-communist Europe, answered questions from patrons and outlined what led up to Russia’s attack on and invasion of Ukraine.

When folks grabbed their cup of joe before listening in, their tips also had an impact. Shift matched the total dollars in tips for the day and is donating it to the Ukrainian Red Cross, which aids people caught in the violence and refugees fleeing the danger.

“I just have to take a step back and go, 'We are so privileged in every way, so if a couple of tips are what I'm going to give up [to help], I’m willing to do that,'” Bossenbroek added.

Bossenbroek says their new shop plans on continuing to be a community meeting place where these important talks can be had. “We plan on keep having conversations like this and more events like this.”

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