The national average of infant mortality is 5.82 deaths annually for every 1,000 live births. In Franklinton, the rate currently hovers between 17 and 21. Ohio’s 2015 statistics reveal an alarming disparity; 15 Non-Hispanic Black babies died per 1,000, compared to 5.5 Caucasian. Reducing these staggering statistics became the impetus behind the launch of social enterprise Bottoms Up Coffee Co-op, Franklinton’s coffee shop and co-working space, where delicious empanadas and coffee are served with a cause.
Now immersed in one of the city’s epicenters in the fight against infant mortality, Bottoms Up hired in April local Franklinton resident, Flo Stinson, as the organization’s first Community Health Worker. Made possible through a partnership with the City of Columbus and Celebrate One, Stinson’s role is to help connect young mothers to social service resources and information. Prior to her official start date, Stinson invested 130 hours as an intern to prepare for the role, and has since received training from the Department of Health.
“It’s critical for community health workers to live and work in the community they serve,” said Virginia Nunes Gutierrez, chief operating officer and co-founder of Bottoms Up Coffee Co-op. “Health workers who are immersed in the community are better positioned to deliver services in a way that fosters trust and is culturally well received.”
Bottoms Up also has a diaper gap fund. To date, $2,300 has been raised to purchase diapers, which Stinson uses as incentive to introduce herself and begin building relationships with young mothers. Because so many are managing multiple crises and are often isolated, these simple connections help open the door for Stinson to relay information about services that might alleviate at least some pressure points.
Stinson’s goals, set by Celebrate One, are to meet with a minimum of 24 moms per week. She attends at least one community event per month, seeking out local connector organizations and events such as First Birthdays, a community-wide event hosted by Franklinton and the Hilltop.
“Like any social issue, infant mortality is extremely complex,” Gutierrez said. “Social determinants include racial disparities, access to healthy food, recovery treatment programs, prenatal care, affordable housing, wellness programs, mental health counseling, professional and workforce opportunities—those are just a few indicators that correlate to high infant mortality rates. At the top of the list? Housing, prenatal care and safe sleep practices.”
Fortunately, Stinson is not alone in her fight against infant mortality, as other social agencies throughout the city have advocates embedded in communities that are at risk. In addition to young mothers, Bottoms Up also reaches out to the broader community by hosting a game night, in partnership with Franklinton Preparatory Academy. Civic and local business leaders that frequent the coffee shop are invited to serve as mentors in a safe, more casual setting, to give kids access to positive role models who offer guidance in an environment that provides respite from, even if for just a few hours, the mental and physical strains that poverty inflicts.
Bottoms Up also just hired Maria Elizabeth Ramos as the organization’s new Community Deportation Defender, whose position was crowd-sourced and whose role is dedicated to offering counsel to residents on immigration rights and information about social service resources available to immigrants. Open just over one year, the co-working space at Bottoms Up has attracted organizations that are immigration-oriented, work with affordable housing for underserved populations, and focus on behavioral health. It has become synonymous with a collaborative setting for social justice and nonprofit organizations to create positive change in our communities.
How you can support Bottoms Up:
- Donate: Bottoms Up accepts donations of diapers, bottles, formula, clothes and care packages for new moms. Donations of gift cards to stores that sell these items are also accepted.
- Educate yourself: For more information about Franklin County’s statistics, please visit the Columbus Department of Health’s website. Help build awareness and knowledge, help support long-lasting relationships/resources for women to go to.
- Lease co-working space: Bottoms Up’s currently has one office available and three that will open up in the August/September timeframe. There are a few desk spots that are also currently available. Amenities include printer/scanner/drip coffee/24 hour access/conference room.
- Visit for coffee: Bottoms Up donates 10 percent of coffee sales to local nonprofits, helping remove socio-economic barriers pregnant moms-in-need face. Bottoms Up is located at 1069 W. Broad St. in Franklinton.
For more information, visit bottomsupcoffee.com.
Central Ohio’s social enterprises dedicated to creating positive change through health and wellness initiatives:
The Center for Social Enterprise Development (CSED) maintains a directory of social enterprises throughout Central Ohio. We have developed many at-a-glance profiles for each social enterprise, intended to inform consumers, funders, impact investors and individual donors of investment-worthy causes. Here are the social enterprises we’ve identified to date, whose focus is creating social impact through health and wellness initiatives. We encourage you to learn more, consider supporting these organizations, or inform us of additional social enterprises that share this focus. Connect with the Center for Social Enterprise Development on Facebook and Twitter to follow all the latest updates on approximately 100 local social enterprises throughout Central Ohio.
- Aunt Flow [profile] [website]
- Bottoms Up Coffee Co-op [profile] [website]
- Equitas Health (formerly ARC Ohio) [profile] [website]
- Impact Economics [profile] [website]
- LifeCare Alliance/Corporate Wellness [profile] [website]
- Local Matters (Wellness Matters) [profile] [website]
- Lower Lights Christian Health Center [website]
- Physicians CareConnection [website]
- Red Cross Columbus First Aid Service Team [website]
- Thriv3 LLC [website]
- Urban Farms of Central Ohio [website]