We Care grant dollars help local businesses rebound from pandemic losses

Posted at 7:22 AM, Nov 25, 2020
and last updated 2020-11-25 14:19:55-05

NORFOLK, Va. - For five years, Dr. Anna Peoples has seen the difference she's made in Hunter's Square and the surrounding neighborhoods in Norfolk.

Working with the city, Peoples, a pharmacist, opened Peoples Pharmacy & Diabetic Clinic in an area that's minority-majority, low-income and traditionally underserved, she says, when it comes to health care.

Not only does the pharmacy, which is located on Church Street, offer traditional medicine, but its knowledge of holistic, natural therapies sets it apart.

A business that's woman and minority-owned, Peoples says she looks like a lot of the people who come into the pharmacy, but over the years, she's worked hard to gain the trust of all visitors.

"I treat folks the way I want you to treat me. When you walk through that door I want you to receive the compassion and care that you deserve and that’s exactly what we do," said Dr. Peoples.

It's that effort that made Peoples Pharmacy a perfect candidate for grant dollars from the We Care initiative.

Supported by Dominion Energy, We Care Rebuild Program was announced in September. $600,000 to be split among small businesses in Hampton Roads and Richmond with a focus on women and minority-owned.

Urban League is leading the project with the help of organizations like Black BRAND.

"As much as we can do to stabilize and provide support to the small business community, it's really going to make all the difference in terms of the economy as a whole," Blair Durham with Black BRAND told News 3.

Peoples says she received $10,000. Money that's helped her buy personal protection equipment and keep people on staff at a time when her business is needed more than ever.

"In the midst of COVID-19 when a lot of people are confused about the virus and things they can do to help themselves to make it through all this, Peoples Pharmacy is here to help," she said.

Just down the street at Church and 26th, Senses Vegan opened in the Culinary Lofts space in November of last year.

Owner Stephanie Linton had spent three years building a business specializing in vegan comfort food, one of the few vegan-only options in Hampton Roads, she says, only to have COVID-19 put it in jeopardy.

The We Care grant dollars she received is also helping her stay staffed, supplied and, frankly, open.

"We've been able to add things like apps and updated websites and Grubhub so we can offer delivery to our customers," said Linton. "Not only has the grant been beneficial as far as funds, but it's also been beneficial with the resources it provides with accounting, bookkeeping and just educational opportunities for small businesses."

Linton says recipes for vegan mac and cheese, even fried chicken recipes using wheat gluten seitan, have helped her gain a following.

Her goal is to use the grant to continue growing her business.