Second Gentleman Pool Reports of March 8, 2021

March 08, 2021

Pool Reports by Francesca Chambers, McClatchy

Sent: Reports:
March 8, 2021

Second Gentleman Pool Report #1: Hook Hall background

The White House provides the following background on Second Gentleman Doug Emhoff's event this afternoon:

Today, Second Gentleman Douglas Emhoff and Washington D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser will visit Hook Hall Helps, a COVID-19 relief effort that organizes and distributes prepared meals and care kits to local hospitality workers whose jobs have been impacted by pandemic-related shutdowns and restrictions.

After touring the site, Mr. Emhoff and Mayor Bowser will participate in a roundtable discussion that will highlight the critical importance of passing the American Rescue Plan and providing direct relief to small businesses and families hardest hit by the pandemic. Taking place on International Women's Day, the discussion will include two women restaurant owners as well as two hospitality workers who have been aided by Hook Hall Helps, including:

  • Anna Valero, Owner, Hook Hall, and Founder, Hook Hall Helps
  • Sarah Frimpong, CEO, Wellfound Food
  • Brooke Stonebanks, Former bar manager and event coordinator
  • Theo Abbott, Former hospitality industry worker & DC resident

Specific provisions in the American Rescue Plan that will benefit small businesses and families include:

  • Providing $1,400 in checks to those who need it most. These checks will help families cover rent, pay their bills, and pay for child care.
  • Expanding the Child Tax Credit, getting at least $3,000 to parents for each child.
  • Providing $50 billion in relief for small businesses who have been hard hit during this pandemic, with targeted assistance to severely impacted industries like restaurants and other food and drinking establishments. Women business owners were hit particularly hard by the pandemic.

Additional background on Hook Hall Helps

  • The Hook Hall Helps project began on March 16, 2020, when DC restaurants were shuttered due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The concept began as a way to offer meals and supplies to furloughed and out-of-work hospitality industry workers (restaurants, hotels, caterers, bars, attractions).
  • Working in partnership with the Restaurant Association of Metropolitan Washington, Hook Hall Helps is providing more than 500 meals a week and has raised more than $750,000 in donations to keep the program going. The project was created by Hook Hall's owner, Anna Valero.
  • Through Hook Hall Helps, area hospitality workers receive meals and supplies provided through the generous support of the greater Washington, DC, community. Local restaurants are compensated for the family meals that they prepare. This project keeps restaurant employees working while also providing meals to members of the greater hospitality industry community.
  • Recipients receive restaurant-prepared meals and a supply bag containing items such as cereal, fruit, granola bars, women's hygiene products, and toilet paper.
  • Located in the Park View neighborhood, Hook Hall is a bar and event space based in a reimagined nearly 100-year-old building that previously housed a drug store and grocery store. In addition to meal distribution, Hook Hall has been sharing its outdoor space with neighborhood businesses that host socially-distanced fitness classes, farme
March 8, 2021

Second Gentleman Pool Report #2

Mayor Bowser and Second Gentleman Emhoff arrived at Hook Hall at 4:10 pm. They are currently speaking to the owner who is telling them about the operation here. They are standing at least 12 feet away from pool, with masks on, and not all of their remarks are audible but she said they have raised close to $1 million from more than 3k small-dollar donors and this has been an evolving operation.

"What is the most important thing you have learned?" Emhoff asked. He also wanted to know how we move forward based on the lessons learned.

She said that "we are all part of a greater community" and that a year ago if you had told her what she would be doing now, she would have said that Hook Hall throws events and serves beer.

They are now at a second stop inside, where she is showing them how Hook Hall assembles the food bags. They are standing in front of rows of large, brown paper bags that have the operation logo on a sticker on the front.

She said they have been writing messages on the bags and challenged Emhi3ff and Bowser both to do so.

One suggestion from the owner was, "It's such a beautiful day."

"You're taking all of mine!" She said.

As always, please check against video, because it's very difficult to hear. Event ongoing. Will endeavor to find out what Emhoff and Bowser wrote on their bags.

March 8, 2021

Second Gentleman Pool Report #3: roundtable discussion

Emhoff and Bowser participated in a roundtable for about 20 minutes in an outdoor area that is attached to Hook Hall, sitting in chairs spaced about six feet apart if not more, talking to local workers in conversation with Hook Hall's owner.

Bowser wanted to know if you if have to make a reservation for this outdoor space, which is currently a Viking Village, and Anna Valero, the Hook Hall owner told you do. "You might know someone though if you want to get in," Valero told Bowser to laughter.

It was hard to hear what Sarah Frimpong said because she was the furthest away from pool, but she gave remarks first in the group.

Brooke Stonebanks and her young son Adam went second. She said that she is working part time now, but she's bringing in only a few hundred dollars a week. Hook Hall has helped to fill that gap, she said.

"It's definitely very anxious," she said, saying she understands why the current measures are in place. "You try to do what you can. But everybody here has been awesome."

"I worked so hard to get where I am, and I never thought I would be in this situation...I definitely can't imagine what my situation would be without Hook Hall."

Emhoff asked her son, "How are you feeling, Adam.? He gave him 2 thumbs up. "I'm five years old," he said in response to Emhoff's question.

"Thanks for sharing that. I know that's hard," he told Stonebanks.

Emhoff said of the things that struck him on the campaign trail was exactly what she said "People never imagined they would be in that situation who were."

After Theo Abbott spoke and explained his situation, Emhoff asked him, "How are you feeling now?"

He says he's feeling "great" and that he's been following vaccination distribution. "I think that the light's at the end of the tunnel," he said.

"Your attitude is very infectious," Emhoff told him.

Emhoff said that over dinner, he and the VP talk about his day. He asked the group what they would like him to take back to her and the administration.

"I think for me one of the big things is the way everybody's come together," Abbott said.

Anna Valero said that for her it is thinking about the hospitality community beyond just a place to get a drink, but how it can help make communities come back stronger. She said that "creative partnerships" and looking at the "hospitality community with a new eye" after this are what is on her mind.

Bowser said she would tell the VP and the entire administration that unemployment assistance and other measures in the rescue package will be a bridge for the community, including the rental assistance, during Covid-19.

"And I can't leave out the little people," she added.

Emhoff said, "Adam," in reference to Stonebanks' son.

"The little people have got to get back to school," Bowser said.

Bower said that they have made improvements at the schools, including to ventilation.

"We want all of our parents to know that we want their kiddos back," she said.

She also said that after the VP went to United Medical Center, there was a surge of others going there, and so the city of DC really appreciated it.

"When it's your turn, take your shot," Emhoff said in conclusion, stressing that if people want to be able to attend big events again that's what they will have to do.

"She already knows about DC statehood," Bowser added, talking about the VP again.

Emhoff joked that she has a "whole list" here for the VP of things to take back.

"I guess I'm a constituent now," he said, adding that he now lives in DC now, too.

"We want to go out and get around this town too, it's the same thing," he said. He spoke of wanting to be able to "come back here" and be out on the town and be able to show folks what a great place this (Hook Hall) is and that he will take this information back to the administration and try to be an advocate.

"Thank you for having me. This has been an amazing experience, I really appreciate it," he said.

The event ended at 4:45pm. After, he and Bowser spoke to the Stonebanks family for a minute or two and then took a few questions. Q and A in the next pool report.

March 8, 2021

Second Gentleman Pool Report #4: brief Q and A

After the event Emhoff took a few questions. Bowser also took a question.

Question to Emhoff: Tell us about your experience teaching so far and what you've learned teaching during the pandemic and the effect on students and teachers?

Answer: First of all, I've learned teaching is really hard. And I have so much respect for the teachers out there doing this each and every day. The amount of work that you have to put in and the extra effort, especially during COVID, doing over Zoom. I've always appreciated teachers, and now that I'm doing it's just tons and tons of respect. But I'm really enjoying it. I love my career as a lawyer, and this is a way to really kind of stay in it, and be so inspired by these young students, who are just about to enter their careers, so it's been an incredible experience so far.

Question to Emhoff: Have you brought any lessons about teaching during the pandemic back to the vice president?

Answer: Well like I said, we at dinner, 'how was your day,' 'how was your day." We talk about it. I talk about how it's going, how I'm trying to reach the students, and how they're responding to me. And look, it's odd the second gentleman is their teacher. But we kind of dispensed with that. It was maybe five minutes in the first class. Now, it's just, they want to learn, they want to be great lawyers, and I'm trying to impart to them experiences as a lawyer. So trying to go from lawsuit into lawyer has been a great back and forth. And you know, she's a lawyer, too. So it's good thing to talk about.

Question to Emhoff: Is it also odd not to be working full time, and what's the most unexpected thing about being second gentleman and living at Blair House?

Well I am working full time. I'm teaching, I'm learning. As second gentleman I'm taking every opportunity I can to educate myself. So it's not just going to the library and the national galleries, it's also taking advantage of the experts in administration, learning issues, so when I'm out here advocating, I know I'm up on the issues. So I'm taking it very seriously, I'm putting a lot of time into it. So I do miss it. I did it for 30 years, I thought I was good at it and successful but what an opportunity, if I'm gonna leave to be able to be in this administration, and also to support my wife. I mean, she's the first female vice president. I'm so proud of her. And I get to do what I hope a lot of people will do is to support their spouse and give them an opportunity to really succeed. We need more strong, powerful women in government, and we need strong, powerful women in business.

Question to Bowser: What message would you send back to the VP and the White House about vaccine hesitancy particularly in the Black community and what they can do about it?

"I think the big thing that we heard from the president and vice president is that they have used all the power of their offices to get more vaccine produced. I think the partnership to have more Johnson & Johnson produce with Merck, the company that will-- they will have, I think, an unprecedented partnership to produce more vaccine.

"I can speak for our jurisdiction. If we had more vaccine, we could vaccinate more people more quickly. So that message, I think is very clear. And I think we have -- we all have a job to do, in terms of making sure everybody has the information they need to make a decision about vaccine. We all have an opportunity in local government to explore all of our partnerships so that we're getting out into communities that may have access issues, need more information, need to be connected. So that's what we're doing, and that's what it's going to take."

March 8, 2021

Second Gentleman Pool Report #5: bag note & photos

I've uploaded a couple pictures from the first part of the event inside Hook Hall at this link:

Here's what was written on the two bags, by the way, that Emhoff signed, per the second gentleman's office:

Bag 1: "Stay strong" - Douglas Emhoff

Bag 2: "We will get through this" - Douglas Emhoff

Working to see if we can get a video uploaded of the event for those who have asked.

Other than that, that's all from me tonight. Have a great evening, everyone.

Doug Emhoff, Second Gentleman Pool Reports of March 8, 2021 Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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