We are on a mission to unmask Duluth heroes who have made an impact during the COVID-19 pandemic! These heroes have been working hard to help keep our community moving forward and we think they deserve a bit of recognition. Over the month of May we received many nominations and we are excited to highlight four local heroes!
Michael Barron is a 5th Grade Teacher at Chesney Elementary and he has gone above and beyond to make sure his students transitioned well into online learning. Not only does he host regular Zoom meeting to help them with whatever they may need but he has also purchased birthday gifts with his own money and hand delivered it to students just to make them feel special. Nominator, Traceylee Butler Tuner said “He is amazing and a very caring Person. He deserves this and so much more. Thank You and God Bless You, Mr. Barron!”
Serafima Savitskiy is not only a selfless and determined ICU nurse who never gives up on a patient but she is also a wonderful mother. After immigrating to the USA from Lithuania 25 years ago she has dedicated her life to saving others’ lives. Her nominator, David Savitskiy said “This current pandemic has truly shown how heroic she is rushing to the scene and risking her life every day to help others. There are few people who are more honorable and heroic than her.”
Charlie “Chaz” Doerlich has worked tirelessly, unconventionally, and continuously during the COVID-19 Pandemic to keep the doors of the Duluth Food Co-Op open and operational for the families in need of food and supplies throughout the City of Duluth. He has lead his team to implement new practices that have allowed them to service more clients in need. His nominator Shenee Holloway stated “He’s a fellow Duluth Kiwanian, and I personally believe he has been an awesome blessing in our community!”
Jaime Stepic is the owner of Spool School in downtown Duluth and she immediately jumped into action as the pandemic escalated by put her crafting know-how to use in both making and hosting a drop-off location for home mask-makers. Her nominator, Dustin Grau, noted “she started a Facebook group to help organize the community and share information on how others can help make and contribute to the cause for PPE to medical workers.” This group has grown to over 100 members that have networked to donated thousands of masks and ear saves to local groups and health care professionals in need.
Additionally, we are so proud of the local businesses and organizations that are stepping up to support their community during this challenging time as well!
Crave Pie, Simply Done Donuts, Maple Street Biscuit Company, First Baptist Duluth and The Korean American Restaurant Association, Southeast USA have given back to first responders and students by providing meals and delicious treats! Groups that have received donations from include: Duluth Police Department, Gwinnett Medical Center, the Gwinnett County Fire Department, Children’s Hospital, East Side Medical, students of B.B. Harris Elementary School, Hands of Christ Duluth Co-o.
Other Duluth businesses that gave back include Good Word Brewing & Public House who partnered with Meals by Grace opened their doors as a soup kitchen to those in need and SKA Academy of Art and Design who partnered with Together We Can Foundation to setup free food and supply stations for the community.
The following message is on behalf of Chief Belcher and the City of Duluth Police Department.
We are saddened and angered by the events surrounding the murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis. It is unfathomable not only that a police officer would do that, but that any human being would do that to another human being, while others stood by and did nothing. We realize that there is a tremendous amount of hurt, fear and anger out in the community. We are angry and hurting with you. The video which captured Mr. Floyd being murdered was unconscionable and horrible. Our condolences go out to the Floyd family.
Here, at the Duluth Police Department, we do not tolerate police brutality, injustice, discrimination, or racism of any kind. Duluth is home to a very diverse population. We continually train on and openly discuss race, racial issues, ethics, integrity, and professionalism. This training has been conducted at our agency for many years. The officers at our police department chose this profession because they wanted to serve others, keep people safe, and do some good in the world. Our officers are by no means perfect, but they serve with honor in what I feel, is still an honorable profession.
We have heard of some planned protests in the area. We support people’s rights to free speech and peaceful protest, however, any violence or lawlessness will not be tolerated. The safety of our citizens is a top priority for us. That being said, we would like to encourage anyone who is planning to organize a peaceful protest or demonstration here in our city to communicate with us so that we can make sure we are able to protect your rights, and maintain the safety of all involved.
I believe that the greatest strength of Duluth is its people. The people who live or operate their businesses here in Duluth care about their community, and they care about each other. I believe that it takes a partnership between police and citizens, with open lines of communication, to keep our community safe and to create an environment where people can live without fear. We value the support of our citizens and we are willing to partner with the community in any way we can to encourage and continue these positive relationships, especially during these challenging times.
Thank you to our citizens for your continued support, and thank you for making Duluth the great city that it is.
The City of Duluth is aware of peaceful protests scheduled to take place on Friday, June 5 from 2:30-6:30pm in Downtown Duluth and we wanted to take this opportunity to let our community know that we stand up with you against systemic racism. We know that members of our diverse community are hurting. We understand that to end the oppression of our African-American population we must unite as a singular force to take action and we will continue to do so throughout all levels of our local government.
We pride ourselves on having a well-trained police force to protect our citizens while showing compassion to people of all races. Our police force has training and protocols in place to ensure that all interactions with those that reside in and visit our community are conducted with professionalism and respect. Now more than ever, we will continue to put an emphasis on building strong and sustainable relationships between our law enforcement officers and citizens/visitors.
Duluth Chief of Police Randy Belcher released a statement stating: “I believe that the greatest strength of Duluth is its people. The people who live or operate their businesses here in Duluth care about their community, and they care about each other. I believe that it takes a partnership between police and citizens, with open lines of communication, to keep our community safe and to create an environment where people can live without fear. We value the support of our citizens and we are willing to partner with the community in any way we can to encourage and continue these positive relationships, especially during these challenging times.”
We want you to be confident that the Constitutional rights of every person that lives, works or plays in our City is protected.
We see you. We hear you. We support you.
Mayor Nancy Harris