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Open For Business

By: Michael Blankenship |

“Helping others isn’t a chore; it is one of the greatest gifts there is.” 

Liya Kebede

In the summer of 2018, a 13-year-old boy named Jaquan Faulkner set up a hot dog stand outside his North Minneapolis home. 

He had one goal: to earn money to purchase new clothes for the upcoming school year. 

He was doing well selling hot dogs for $2 and chips and sodas for $1. But then someone sent an email complaint to the Minneapolis Health Department, saying that Jaquan was operating a food stall without the required permits.

The Health Department, of course, had to handle the situation. 

But with the help of NEON (Northside Economic Opportunites Network), instead of shutting him down, they decided to get Jaquan’s hot dog stand, called Mr. Faulkner’s Old Fashioned Hot Dogs, up to code. 

NEON and the Health Department’s first step was to teach Jaquan about food safety and handling — they even outfitted him with thermometers, tongs, and a hand washing station. Next, he needed the permit. The cost was $87, but the people helping Jaquan pooled their resources and covered the cost for him. 

He passed inspection, and it wasn’t long before the story of Mr. Faulkner’s Old Fashioned Hotdogs got around, and the community came out to show their support. As the story grew, Jaquan ended up on the news and even on the Steve Harvey Show, where he was given a computer with business management software and a ton of support. 

The lesson? 

Jaquan’s story reminds us that we can look at and tackle a problem in more than one way. The person who complained just wanted the issue to go away. The inspectors who responded saw the signs of an early entrepreneur and weren’t going to let that spirit get crushed by the bureaucratic system that would typically squash his dreams and ambitions. 

When you’re out and about, keep your eyes open for opportunities to help others in your community. They could be doing something the incorrect way, but all it might take is a kind word to point them in the right direction.

This Week’s Image

This Week’s Riddle

What starts with ‘e’ ends with ‘e’ and contains one letter?

This Week’s Journaling Prompt

Think of a small business or individual in your community who is trying something new or unique, like a local street vendor, a neighborhood artist, or a young entrepreneur. Write about how you could offer them support or encouragement. Reflect on how this small action might positively impact them and your community.

This Week’s Challenge

Find a small business or individual in your community, such as a street vendor, a local artist, or a small café, who is doing something unique or innovative. Have a conversation, learn about their story, and understand their journey. Offer them words of encouragement or express appreciation for what they are doing. If appropriate and you feel compelled, make a purchase to support their endeavor.

Riddle Answer: Envelope

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