Neighbors, April 14: "This is what a beloved community looks like and acts like!"

Apr 14, 2020

Henry Banks came to the local NAACP’s free face mask distribution last evening to pick up some masks for people who needed them. The Duluth Branch NAACP handed out 500 face masks in half an hour.
Credit Copyright Ivy Vainio. Used with permission.

The Duluth Branch NAACP was going to spend an hour and a half last night, distributing free cloth face masks to anyone, but particularly to Black, Indigenous, and people of color in our community.

Minority populations across the country are disproportionately represented in both COVID-19 cases and deaths, partly due to less access to health care and partly to higher rates of hypertension, diabetes and respiratory diseases.

But half an hour later, all the masks were gone.

So the group is looking for volunteers to make more masks for the event this Thursday, and they're even wondering of they might have to make these opportunities a regular thing for a while.

Credit The Duluth Grill/Facebook

Tom Hanson, the owner of the Duluth Grill family of restaurants, used to joke to his wife that "If I fail, I can always get another job tomorrow."

And for Tom and his wife Jaima, who met when he was a bartender and she was a waitress, that was always the case - until now.

"Now I can't fail," says Hanson.  "There's nowhere to go!"

Last month as shutdowns and quarantines began, Hanson faced the prospect of laying off 200 employees, hoping to preserve "something they can come back to."

"We will be badly wounded from this," Hanson said in a text message. "But I will be that old guy shaking hands and smiling to my grave."