Bree Bode had a relationship with the physical space of Roots before she became a patron of the coffee shop. Boomtown Church used to meet at Roots Brew Shop on Sundays. Bree attended Boomtown and immediately liked the cozy furniture.

She began coming into Roots during business hours in 2018. At the time, she was the Director of Programs at a non-profit here in Grand Rapids. She remembered “working from home” wasn’t as popular at the time. She would come to Roots to work for a few hours each week, just to find a change of scenery. Later that year, she left her job to begin her own business and start her PHD program. 

Her business, BB Mindful, is a coaching and consulting business. “I help women understand how to interact with their health in a different way. Not just what did I eat or drink today? Helping one woman change her perception of health can change a generation”. She recently started a position with Michigan State University’s Pediatric Public Health Initiative as a Nutrition Coordinator. Simultaneously, she will be working on a regional nutrition marketing project in local grocery stores in Detroit, Flint, and Grand Rapids.

Born in Maine, she was the child of a pastor. She moved up all over the nation in her youth and played softball in college. Bree married young and has been a single mom of four children for 20 years. She worked as a non-traditional student to finish her college degrees. She currently holds a Masters Degree in Public Health from Grand Valley State University. She is also a Certified Health Education Specialist. She will defend her Philosophy Doctoral dissertation this fall at Wayne State University. So pretty much, Bree is a slacker. 

We talked about how she got into public health as a field and why she wanted to keep pursuing her studies further. “My dad passed away from heart disease and I wanted to find out how to change things so no one else has to suffer like we did. And it just grew into community health. I want to understand how people behave and how those behaviours affect their health outcomes. How do policies, systems, and environments affect the entire health of the entire community?”

When she isn’t studying and coaching, she enjoys spending time with her children. She spoke of the great outdoors being her happy place. Hiking, camping, and being near water top the list of favorite activities. She then listed our favorite places. For camping, it’s Sleeping Bear Dunes. For hiking, it’s the Grand Ravines North County Park trails in Georgetown. Or anywhere near the beach. Bree also enjoys reading although she admitted she hasn’t been able to read for leisure in quite some time. 

Bre spoke of Roots being a place where she has been able to find reprieve. When the pandemic hit, two of her sons needed to move back in with her. Her office is now in her bedroom and she spoke to the mental tax this has taken. “My space where I should be able to find respite is now where I work. So I come to Roots instead. It’s come to feel like home here. Their approach to including people, the atmosphere, and the space feels like a cozy place to be. And I have had hot chocolate from other places and it just doesn’t even come close.”

I asked Bree what’s next for her when she is officially Dr. Bree. She said she wants to continue working in community health and just wants to keep listening to the needs of those around her. “As a woman, as a single mom, I can understand the value of being listened to and having someone take action based on something I have said. I want to be that person for someone else. If we just listen to the community, we can learn how to change systems and policies. It starts with listening.”

Go-to roots order: Dark hot chocolate. Plain bagel with butter.

Book you’d recommend: Strengthsfinder by Tom Rath

Build your favorite meal: a really good vegetarian taco from Tacos el Cunado. Followed up by a good dessert like a dark hot chocolate from Roots!

A person that can make your day better: My mom and my kids.

Favorite thing about yourself: it’s easy for me to see the good in other people.