Black-Owned Organizations Join to Donate Thousands of Masks in Denver

Many businesses these past months have so generously donated to the affected communities during the ongoing ramifications of COVID-19. Black as well as lower-income communities, in particular, have been disproportionately impacted during this time. Last month, Richard Lewis, the owner, and CEO of RTL Networks connected with several other Black-owned organizations to address these issues within the community.

“Rich Lewis of RTL Networks is known for many things. Still, perhaps the most is his intentional efforts to connect people, communities, and resources. In May of 2020, after considerable thought on how to support the community at large, and the Black community in particular, as it relates to COVID-19, he started connecting. Rich facilitated a meeting that intersected public, private and nonprofit organizations to make a meaningful impact,” said Ryan Ross Ph.D., CEO of The Urban Leadership Foundation of Colorado.

These organizations consisted of, The Urban Leadership Foundation of Colorado, The Colorado Black Chamber of Commerce and The Sims Fayola Foundation. During their planning process, RTL supplied 4,000 masks to disperse to the rest of the community. RTL donated 1,000 PPE masks to the Colorado Black Chamber. In addition to that, The Black Chamber connected with the community partner of The Center for African American Health (CAA Health), to distribute the 1,000 PPE masks to community groups. With all of these donations, there has been a significant amount of impact. Some donations were distributed to The Hope Center, the Denver Chapter of the NAACP and Scott United Methodist Church, and families headed by single mothers. Alongside that, The Colorado Black Chamber of Commerce donated masks to faith and health liaisons. Each liaison distributed 20 masks, in addition to infrared thermometers, and hand sanitation gel bottles.

The Urban Leadership Foundation in particular was also able to engage 1,200 people in healthy movement and exercise activities. They created the #maskon campaign, which has provided a total of 1,300 masks in the community partnering with organizations such as Struggle of Love Foundation, RISE 5280, Make a Chess Move, and several local churches.

The remaining masks will be distributed at the CCA Health Site, which is implementing free COVID-19 testing for the neighboring communities of Northeast Denver.  So far, CCA has 100 masks for staff and for later program distribution. Executive Director of Colorado Black Chamber of Commerce, Lee Kathryn Gash-Maxey states that:

“The Colorado Black Chamber has been committed to serving the needs of Black-owned businesses since 1985. As an organization, CBCC has provided economic opportunity and support to business owners and the communities they serve. Supporting our community is not limited to contracts and business opportunities but must include everything that ensures a healthy community.”

All photos provided by Ryan Ross