ABOVE PHOTO: State Rep. Malcolm Kenyatta
In an effort to repair damage to local businesses in the wake of days of civil unrest across the city, State Rep. Malcolm Kenyatta, along with members of the local business community in his 181st Legislative District recently presented a $500 check to one affected business owner.
Kenyatta presented the check to Rich Kim, a COVID-19 survivor and community contributor, to assist him with repairs to his property that was destroyed in a fire during the first night of the recent uprisings on May 31.
Funding for the check, the first of many, was made available through a newly launched microgrant program created by Kenyatta and Richie Juniors and administered by Beech Companies.
“Rich has endured so much over these last few months. He and his family have suffered from both the health and economic impacts of the pandemic and have now faced the brunt of the recent uprising,” Kenyatta said. “Rich has been an asset to this vibrant community. He has donated food to residents in need and our first responders.
I am proud of Temple University, Beech Companies, and Richie for stepping up to make this funding possible to pay it forward to the Kim family on their road to recovery.
“We will continue this initiative because small businesses are the backbone of our communities and it’s crucial that we do more to foster their growth,” Kenyatta added.
Kim, expressing gratitude for Kenyatta’s donation, said that the gesture is less about the money, but more about the sentiments behind it.
“The support and also finding out that are really good people who are trying to help is what truly matters,” Kim said. “I understand the anger of the protestors as I am also a minority. Initially, I was feeling very down, but the emotional support and seeing people coming together counts the most. We need to stay united.”
The check presentation was hosted by Richie Juniors, third-generation owner of Richie’s and a force behind the microgrant program, in front of his longstanding outdoor eatery serving both the Temple University campus community and the North Philadelphia community at large.
“I’m excited to be part of this community and neighborhood,” Juniors said. “As a longstanding member of this community, it’s important to be a good neighbor by supporting others, especially during the difficult times, which is why I am proud to be part of this microgrant program.”
Kenneth Scott, CEO of Beech Companies, agreed with Juniors, and added that Beech Companies has been working in North Philadelphia for 30 years. Beech has demonstrated its dedication to the area following the uprising in the 1960s, Scott explained.
“We began community restoration efforts since the 90s, through education, housing and food programs,” Scott said. “Through the years, we’ve been developing multiple buckets of funding from the micro level up to the macro levels of business.
Those buckets have especially proven to be vital for organizations such as some food pantries and housing programs, among others, that didn’t qualify for some of the pandemic relief. We stepped in to provide that relief.”
The program has currently raised $10,000 from publicly sourced donations to provide relief to small businesses and organizations that were affected by the recent civil unrest, and the ongoing economic crisis from the pandemic, but that did not qualify for the federal, state and city financial relief programs. Kenyatta and Juniors, Temple University, and PMC Property Management are among the donors.