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Community and Culture

Published January 2024 | In Winter 2024

There are about as many different coffee orders as there are caregivers at Monument Health. And the baristas crafting each drink are every bit as unique as the orders they serve.

Community and Culture Media

Rapid City Hospital is home to two specialty coffee cafes: Market Coffee and create. Each serving Starbucks drinks, breakfast and lunch to caregivers, patients and visitors. The team behind the counters is dedicated to providing fast, friendly service to everyone who stops by.

Chanwanpe Shields started as a barista in March 2023, and she brings her personality and individuality with her to work every day. “If I was to introduce myself, I would say I’m Lakota Dakota, from Marty, South Dakota, and an enrolled member of the Yankton Sioux.”

“I love to share about my culture,” she said. “I feel like that's one thing about my identity that I'm always willing to share is where I come from — I’m surrounded by my culture with modeling and with my volunteer work. It's all for the community here.”

There are many regulars who stop to see Chanwanpe and her team at both cafes in Rapid City Hospital. She enjoys seeing patients progress along their healing journey. “There was one patient I remember seeing on crutches, and a few weeks later he was walking on his own — that was great to see.”

Each day the barista team works together to ensure an efficient and positive experience for their customers. Ask any regular at a coffee shop and they’ll tell you baristas don’t just create drinks — they get to know their customers well enough to start their order before they even step up to the counter.

“Being a barista isn’t just about coffee,” Chanwanpe explained. “It’s also food service. We have daily breakfast and lunch specials in create, and in Market Coffee we can go back to the main kitchen and help prep for lunch.”

create delivers an exhibition-style culinary experience where food is prepared right in front of you, with a number of options to customize your order. Open Monday-Friday, 6 a.m.-2 p.m., you can also find your favorite Starbucks coffee here, as well as a number of bottled beverages, grab-and-go food options and snacks.

Market Coffee provides an authentic café experience to caregivers, physicians and patients on the first floor of Rapid City Hospital. Open seven days a week, 7 a.m. to 11 p.m., baristas like Chanwanpe will serve your favorite cup of coffee with a smile. They also offer a seasonal menu with fresh gourmet pastries and grab-and-go items.

Service

Between the two locations, Monument Health baristas serve an average of 500 people each day. Sometimes their customers are ending long and challenging overnight shifts. Others are arriving to visit a loved one who is beginning a healing journey. Each of those 500 customers are treated with kindness and compassion.

“My team is like family to me. We all walk in with optimism. We lift each other up and put our heads together to improve the customer experience every day,” she said. “And every time we get to visit with someone, we strive to become a great part of their day.”

Chanwanpe doesn’t just serve her fellow caregivers at work. She also dedicates time to community service. “I started volunteering with my uncle when I was still in high school, and I still help him today when I’m able,” she said. “We serve meals at Memorial Park every Friday. Everyone is welcome: single mothers, single fathers, people in the community and especially our elders.”

Providing service to her community is important to Chanwanpe, and just like serving caregivers and patients at Rapid City Hospital, serving the community is a team effort. “I hope people driving by see the community that goes into the meal. It’s not just one family, it’s several families who are dedicated to always being there.”

A model for others

Service to others is important to Chanwanpe, and she hopes that others are encouraged to give back as well. “We’ve had people see what we do, and they’ve wanted to help as well,” she said. “I think when you serve others, you get back just as much.”

In addition to her service to others and work as a barista, Chanwanpe is passionate about modeling. She especially loves to combine that passion with her love of highlighting her culture and heritage. “Last April, I walked in two fashion shows — one was at the Dahl Arts Center and the other was at The Monument in Summit Arena, which is the biggest thing I’ve done,” she said. “It showcased native and indigenous artists, so I was proud to model their clothing.” Chanwanpe enjoys modeling, and it has led to new friendships in the fashion world. She is looking forward to more modeling opportunities and traveling in the future.

Community

Chanwanpe has a lot of sides, interests and passions, but the thread running through them all is community. “I’m always surrounded by community. Whether I’m modeling, volunteering or even when I’m at work, I’m always connected to my identity, my culture and my community. Everything I do is connected to that, and I try to bring the same passion and dedication to all the things I do,” she said.

“My team is like family to me. We all walk in with optimism. We lift each other up and put our heads together to improve the customer experience every day.”

CHANWANPE, ON THE IMPORTANCE OF TEAMWORK AND SERVICE TO OTHERS

Written by Stephany Chalberg
Photos by Bob Slocum