Difference Maker | Reesheda Washington


If deep dish pizza, gusting winds, and The Bean define downtown Chicago then L!ve Cafe defines Oak Park. It is more than a place to get great, locally sourced coffee; it is a place of innovation and redemptive feather ruffling. It is a creative space that facilitates needed and hard conversations on community development and community space.

Reesheda is a small woman with a loud and prophetic voice. Her words speak truth, but they come with a much needed punch. As she retells the story of L!ve Cafe and how they are reshaping Oak Park you get a feel of just how resilient this woman is, but you also see her leadership as you hear the sounds of steamed milk frothing in the background. L!ve Cafe is more than a cafe. It is a place where entrepreneurs pitch their ideas for community restoration, difference makers sit and talk about racial issues that have caused systemic issues that have eliminated social mobility, but it also a business that promotes partnerships as seen by the different people in the building as well as the artwork on the walls.

I went to learn more about impact investing and social justice entrepreneurship, but I left with the same feeling you get when you hear a motivational speaker give a speech that you know was written just for you. I was able to see first hand community development taking place in a small space and how a nonprofit thinks and acts so differently that it actually transforms a city. It didn’t happen over night and there are still so many things that Reesheda and her team hope to accomplish, but it gave a gal from Georgia a much needed spur to carry on; to continue laboring and inviting difference makers to the table as we pray and hope for restoration in our own city. It was proof that…..

  • Creating round tables gives everyone a seat and a voice because there isn’t a head of the table

  • Everyone has gifts, we just have to find out how to use them

  • Look for what is strong in a community and not what is wrong in order to solve systemic issues

  • Faithfulness is more virtuous than fruit

For more on Reesheda and her team:

L!ve Cafe, Communities First Association, Reesheda

Jen Young