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Day, Made

It’s lunch time at BrewDog Short North. The Street Thyme food truck is in the parking lot. Cookies from Piece of Cake bakery are on a table nearby. The customers are on the back patio being greeted by Kyle Barger. He asks Ann, who’s sitting at a table with freshly shampooed hair, about her burger. [...]
Laura Dachenbach

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It’s lunch time at BrewDog Short North. The Street Thyme food truck is in the parking lot. Cookies from Piece of Cake bakery are on a table nearby. The customers are on the back patio being greeted by Kyle Barger. He asks Ann, who’s sitting at a table with freshly shampooed hair, about her burger.

“Five out of five?”

“No,” she retorts. “More like a seven out of five.”

Smiling, she confesses this is the first meal she’s had since yesterday.

“How are the fries?”

“Twelve out of five.”

Barger’s guests are the homeless men and women of the Short North, and like Ann, he knows most of them by name: Craig, Chuck, Ali, Joseph. The occasion is Make A Day, one of several pop-up events that Barger, the owner of Champion Trading Group, has coordinated through Columbus Make A Day, a charity he recently co-founded to connect with those living on the streets—and to give small business owners like himself, a chance to make someone’s day.

Chuck, wearing an oversized polo, stops Barger to show off his new threads from the clothing table.

“You look good! Are you on the list to get a trim?” asks Barger.

Through donations, generosity, and partnerships, Columbus Make A Day provides a meal, clothing, and haircuts for over 100 people over the course of the afternoon, most of whom will find the event through word of mouth on the streets.

“A lot of times, because we’re a small organization, we’re walking up and down High Street just having conversations with homeless men and women and we tell them about the organization.”

Make A Day started when Barger and his cousin, feeling the need to have a more meaningful impact in their lives, began to interact with people living on the streets.

“We would go to Chipotle for lunch and buy burritos to hand out, and then as we started having conversations with some of the homeless men and women on the street, we realized that just handing somebody a meal doesn’t really do much. Somebody’s going to be hungry again a few hours,” Barger explained. “But a lot of times having that conversation over lunch had a way bigger impact.”

Barger and his cousin met a man living on the streets while also battling colon cancer and decided to spend the day finding him some clothes, buying him ice cream, and talking with him as they fed the squirrels in Goodale Park. Everyone agreed the day had been great, and Barger decided to take the experience a step further: to provide more opportunities for people to engage with homeless persons, and for homeless persons to have a bit more joy in their lives.

At the hairstyling station, a team of stylists from B/Rose Beauty Bar are at work, cutting hair, trimming beards, and chatting away. A man tells me it’s his first haircut in eight months. Not only is the session an emotional lift, but also a help for those looking for work who need to make a good first impression.

“All of our volunteers—we encourage them to sit and have lunch with somebody and connect and learn people’s names and learn their skills to help find them jobs.” The experience has led to some success stories. “We found a guy named Omar who’s a chef, and we got him a job on a food truck. Another guy, Charlie, was an electrician, and we ended up hooking him up with a local construction company as a contractor.”

Barger introduces me to Connie and John, once homeless, who have now found housing, work and a chance to raise their newborn daughter in stability. Barger also has me talk to Ali, who has lost all of his toes to frostbite and tells me he only sleeps 3 to 4 hours a night because of the cold, noise, and discomfort on the streets. Chuck approaches me to talk about how he is fighting the system to find housing.

Despite the stories of hardship and struggle, there is community on the streets. Make A Day volunteers have been touched by stories of selflessness and generosity within the community. But such stories only emerge when people escape the anonymity of the curbside and panhandling, where it’s easy to overlook the homeless as members of communities: the city, the neighborhood, and the community they’ve established amongst themselves.

“People are surprisingly really good to each other.” Barger indicates Ali. “If he’s got an extra pair of shoes, he already knows someone who needs them. So he’s already taken them to one of his friends in need.”

Barger checks in with the lunch guests again, asking if there’s anything anyone needs.

“A million dollars,” someone shouts out. Another guest insists that Barger doesn’t have a million dollars “because he spends it all on us.”

As Make A Day wraps up, some the guests help clean up, sweeping up the area and packing up materials, a final statement about the desire to work and to be useful. Chuck heads back to the camp where his cot is. He hasn’t made it through the housing system yet, but he’s been able to talk about his frustrations over lunch, as anyone else might. He takes a bit of food with him for the raccoon he’s befriended, and laughs as he looks forward to seeing the animal’s shenanigans.

Because in the end, everyone feels better when they have the opportunity to give.•

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Community

Clintonville shop earns “America’s Best” award

614now Staff

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Clintonville's Johnny Velo Bikes has been named one of the top bike shops in the nation according to an industry source.

Johnny Velo Bikes has received an America’s Best Bike Shop award from the National Bike Dealers Association (NBDA). The shop is among only six in Ohio to earn the distinction.

“It's an honor to be recognized as one of the best bike shops out of more 4,000 shops in the country," owner John Robinson said in a statement. "We've only been in business for two years, but we've worked very hard to create a professional and friendly atmosphere for our customers."

The NBDA's America's Best Bike Shops program identifies and rewards bicycle stores in North America against the highest performance standards in the industry. The awards are issued based on an application and secret shopper process, with shops scored on layout and design, staff and management, training, marketing, and community involvement.

Contact John Robinson at 614-333-0012 or [email protected] for all your bike-related needs. For details on the shop, visit www.johnyyvelobikes.com.

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Arts & Culture

Maker’s Space: Kato Mitchell

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Following an initial disastrous experience with attempting to refurbish a personal pair of sneakers with acrylic paint years ago, a friend noticed Mitchell’s persistence, aiding him to perfect his craft. Though he began with primarily focusing on restoring his friends’ worn-down sneakers, Mitchell’s business, Work The Custom, has expanded to designing apparel in any range.

Just months after being highlighted as cleat designer for Braxton Miller’s Charg1ng summer football camp in Dayton, Mitchell’s clientele has accrued some big names in the sports world, and he has no intention of stopping. (614) caught up with Mitchell to learn more about Work The Custom, and his hope for reconstructing apparel in Columbus and beyond.

(614): When did you decide to transition from football to design?
KM: I’ve always had a passion for drawing and art, [but] I just lost my vision when I took actual art classes and didn’t like what we were doing. After college, I didn’t get any NFL calls, [and] I was trying to figure out what else I would love to do every day, and fell back in love with art.

What was your leap from “this thing I do” to the thing to do? How do you promote your work? After I realized how many people wanted to show who they really are with art, and I was someone who could help do that, that was my ironing point. I promote my work through Instagram and Facebook for the most part, but I do go to sneaker events from time-to-time to pass out business cards.

Is this your primary gig, side gig or hobby? How did it come to be?
It’s my side gig for the moment, but trying to grow and learn to make it my full-time career. I had a pair of shoes that were beat up and didn’t want to buy more so I painted them, but one of my friends taught me the game and how to prosper from it.

What life changes do you feel have propelled your work? How have your customizations evolved? Playing football for a place like Ohio State and doing work for Buckeyes in the NFL and for the OSU football team has helped grow my work faster and further. My customs have evolved just by me growing up and seeing different things, learning different things, practicing everyday, and being able to adapt.

Do you have a specific audience that you want to appeal to?
I want my work to be for everyone. My work can range from baby shoes to youth high school players of all sports, to walls of homeowners and businesses, to shoes for pro athletes.

What ingredients come together to make Columbus a fertile ground for makers, designers and creatives? Columbus is a growing market and very friendly. It has new businesses starting every week and everyone is trying to help everyone else.

What’s your six-word creative story?

Work The Custom is coming fast!

To get in contact with Mitchell, or to see more designs, follow him on Instagram at @katowork19.

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Sports

Twitter Reacts: Bucks score #1 spot in first official playoff rankings

Mike Thomas

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The first official rankings for the 2019 College Football Playoff were announced yesterday, and the Buckeyes have landed at the top of the pile. The ranking marks the first time the Buckeyes have held the #1 spot since the inception of the playoff system.

Needless to say, social media is abuzz with reactions to this historic moment for Ryan Day's squad. Enjoy this roundup of reactions to the announcement from around Twitterverse, and Go Bucks!

https://twitter.com/11W/status/1191906549750489088
https://twitter.com/BarstoolOSU/status/1191906673960652800
https://twitter.com/lawschoollex/status/1191909159815524353
https://twitter.com/CaliBuckeyeGuy/status/1191906878181105664
https://twitter.com/ESPNCFB/status/1191906381999353856
https://twitter.com/ArrogantBuckeye/status/1191907918691622913
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