You would think that members of a community would want to help out the younger generations, especially when certain young people show interest in positive pastimes rather than underage drinking or drugs or other negative behaviors. For example, when this young teen made a conscious effort to try and better his life with an admirable entrepreneurial expedition, you'd have thought everybody would have shown their full support.
Now, it can be hard out there for anyone to start a business, but when 13-year-old Jaequan Faulkner from Minneapolis, Minnesota started a hot dog stand to combat his depression and save money for college, someone in his community complained about him.
Gone are the days when youngsters could set up lemonade stands for a bit of spending money. Many have been slapped with fines and have been forced to shut down their tiny pop-up stands due to people complaining that children don't have the proper permits.
Things have gotten so out of hand that lemonade giant, Country Time, has come up with a team of lawyers dubbed the "legal-aid" division to help defend these children and cover up to $300 worth of fines and permit costs associated with setting up a lemonade stand.
Things were no different for Jaequan, who was told by the city that an anonymous complainant had reported his hot dog stand because he didn't have the correct food operations permits. However, instead of shutting Jaequan down, the city helped him become legit.
Here's Jaequan's heartwarming reaction to being helped out after somebody tried to sell him out...
More than a dozen different city departments came together to help Jaequan obtain the correct health and operations permits that he needed. Multiple Minneapolis health inspectors also offered to train Jaequan on proper food safety and handling practices.
They got him a tent, handwashing station, a thermometer to ensure food was cooked to a proper temperature and rallied together to pay for his permit fees. On top of that, a local nonprofit has been teaching Jaequan entrepreneurial skills to make his business the real deal.
"When I realized what [the complaint] was, I said, ‘No, we’re not going to just go and shut him down’ like we would an unlicensed vendor. We can help him get the permit. Let’s make this a positive thing and help him become a business owner," said Minneapolis Environmental Health Director Dan Huff to WTVR.
Now Jaequan's business, which he has named Mr. Faulkner's Old Fashioned Hot Dogs, is booming. Customers are even coming from out of state to buy one of his hot dogs and shake his hand. It is a real community success story.
Recently, supporters of Mr. Faulkerner's Old Fashioned Hot Dogs have created a GoFundMe campaign to help Jaequan expand his business by purchasing him a mobile hot dog stand. Jaequan says he wants to donate a portion of his earnings to mental health charities.
This makes a lot of sense because he originally started his business to help him ward off depression. It's also incredibly nice to see a young person giving back to the community that rallied behind him and helped him keep and grow his business.
Jaequan also wants to use his earnings to save for college. He would surely be way ahead of his fellow classmates when it comes to business, marketing, and entrepreneurship. However, despite saying that he enjoys learning about business and making money, his main motivation lies elsewhere.
The teen says that it is the interaction with his customers that he enjoys the most. He enjoys the conversations with others and wants to use his hot dog stand to make people happy, just as it has done for him.
“It’s the cooking and the people,” he said. “I see someone go by with a frown on their face. I’m there with a smile, then I see a smile on their face. I just made a smile on somebody’s face by selling them a hot dog.”
What an inspiration at only 13-years-old! Whoever made the complaint about him probably feels pretty silly now. If only every community would rally around its teenagers like Minneanapolis has, we just might create a generation of very confident and resourceful young people.
So next time you see a few kids with a lemonade stand, don't just walk by. Purchase a cup. Instill some confidence and entrepreneurship in young people. Perhaps encourage teens to sell baked goods at a bake sale or a farmer's market, and if you pass through Minnesota, stop by Mr. Faulkner's Old Fashion Hot Dogs.
If you don't want young people to get involved in bad situations, then support and encourage them when they show interest in the good. We wish Jaequan all the best for his business and his bright future ahead.