Café Ambassador Supports Minneapolis Community Amid Unrest
Justin Beumer helped distribute food and supplies to residents cut off from essential services
September 1, 2020
With watery eyes and a languished spirit, Justin Beumer sat down with his seven-year-old son to explain the unthinkable.
Wilted with hopelessness after seeing police brutality take the life of George Floyd in Minneapolis — just 70 miles from his hometown of St. Cloud — Beumer choked up as he tried to discuss what had transpired just down the road from his family.
As local businesses were left in ruin following the unrest, Beumer posted online and asked his friends for opportunities to volunteer or donate. Urged by a friend to join him in the city to hand out water bottles to those in need, Beumer closed his laptop computer and grabbed his keys.
Bound for North Minneapolis, Beumer would soon find the place where he’d spend his weekends for the next month.
“I didn’t want to sit there and be sad,” Beumer said. “I wanted to do something. You’re sick of seeing it but you can’t tune it out.”
What started as an impromptu movement quickly gave way to an organized effort led by a group of volunteers in the North Minneapolis community.
Beumer joined hundreds of volunteers to distribute food and supplies to communities cut off from buying essential goods as a result of local businesses being shuttered, damaged or looted.
“From the moment I got there, there were cars lined up and down the street full of supplies,” Beumer said. “It was an outpouring of love and support and the community came together through this call to action.”
Beumer worked with local and regional volunteers to handle the collection of donated canned goods and coordinate grocery runs for specific needs. Soon after, that group filled an entire church with supplies. They then moved across the street and packed another building with essential goods. Suddenly, this over-pouring support from those in the community left the volunteers so inundated with supplies that they were able to fill a U-Haul with additional supplies to put in storage.
“It really just brought back a sense of humanity, a sense of community,” Beumer said. “There’s all of this bad stuff going on, all of this negative publicity surrounding everything, but here are all of these people showing up and giving back.”
The Wheel Keeps Turning
After his first arduous day of lifting and moving boxes of supplies, Beumer found himself nursing aches and pains the next morning. Brushing off a fleeting thought of taking the day off to relax, Beumer got back behind the wheel and took off for the same spot.
“I just thought to myself, man, what a privileged life I have to even be able to think about not doing anything,” Beumer said.
Each Saturday and Sunday for the next five weeks, Beumer would partner with local community members to deliver goods to the front doors of families throughout different neighborhoods in the area. As a safety protocol to protect from the spread of COVID-19, all volunteers wore masks, which reminded Beumer of just how selfless the work being done truly was.
“I was working side-by-side with people and I knew I was never going to know who they were because of their masks — even if I saw them walking down the street,” Beumer said. “We sat there exchanging sweat for hours in the middle of hot days all just to give back to this community and to help a greater cause than ourselves.”
While currently a Capital One Café ambassador, Beumer was formerly employed at our St. Cloud Café and even saw his coworkers from Minneapolis join him at the site.
“He put a challenge out there right away,” says Lloyd Keli, lead of Capital One’s Minnesota VOICES chapter — a internal business resource group that serves as a catalyst for progressive change and a voice for Black associates and allies. “He went out there that first weekend and saw the need of families and businesses, and took the lead in figuring out the logistics of how we could help. That’s just who Justin is.”
Keli joined in during Beumer’s third weekend of helping out and returned each of the next two weekends. “They were feeling the same way as me, but that pain and confusion turned into a sense of purpose,” Beumer said.
As a part of our $10 million pledge to social justice for Black communities, Capital One contributed funding and supplies to this effort to assist communities in North Minneapolis.
While Beumer is proud of the outpouring demand for social justice in recent months, he believes this work has just begun. “It's up to us all to step to the plate and make that happen and try to be some of the leaders of change,” Beumer said.