Colorado Woman Helping Rebuild Hopes for Grand Forks’ Juba Coffee & Restaurant
A torched coffee shop in Grand Forks receives a helping hand from a stranger.
A Colorado woman, with ties to the community, raises thousands for the Juba Coffee and Restaurant.
Colleen Berry now lives almost a thousand miles away from Grand Forks but she didn’t let distance stop her from giving back to the community or to strangers who needed help.
“They’re broken and it’s nice to have help from this community,” says Grand Forks man, Sujan Gasoss.
Gassoss, from Bangladesh, says he used to go to Juba to stop for a bite to eat.
But all that changed a month ago, when police say 25-year-old Matthew Gust set fire to the restaurant and caused $90,000 in damage.
I told him about the Go Fund Me page Colleen Berry set up to help rebuild Juba.
Gasoss responds, “It’s a nice thing to do for them because they have lost their business and everything. I think the whole community stood stand up for them; respond to them, to help them.”
Berry, who lives in Boulder, Colorado, heard about the hate crime and quickly set up the funding page to help.
“I wanted to do something more active, more proactive. I just kept reading about the anti-Muslims sentiments and some of the things Donald Trump has said,” says Berry.
More than 500 people donated to the page and raised more than $24,000 within a month.
Donations from around the world have come in to help with the fundraiser.
Berry says the Juba’s owners plan to use the money to rebuild their coffee shop.
“I think that it’s a much larger piece of humanity, considering especially that she doesn’t live in Grand Forks and she’s doing it for a group of people she doesn’t even know,”says Grand Forks woman, April Dahlgren.
Berry may not have any ties with the owners but says she still tunes into news happening in what she still calls her backyard in Grand Forks.
She spent nine years as a professor at UND before leaving to teach in Boulder.
“The fact that she does hail from Grand Forks, just kind of reinforces and reengages that need to understand humanity and faith in humanity restored kind of ideas, it’s a lot. It’s pretty nice,” says Dahlgren.
There are some who have questioned Berry’s motives as to why a complete stranger would take on so much.
Berry has a message for them.
“That we really do care and even though there are people that are committing these crimes and really have a lot of ignorance and hatred, there are a lot of people who don’t feel that way,” says Berry.
Colleen Berry has not had contact with the owners and has only spoken to family members.
But she says if she is in town, she wouldn’t mind meeting the Juba family.
A link to the GoFundMe page can be found here.