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by Woodbury BEST of 2021

Woodbury Magazine, Woodbury, MN, July 2021
"Be Thankful. Be grateful. Do what you can to make the world a better place."

For Duke Kim, community healing comes naturally. Kim, the owner of Duc's Vietnamese, says he has been "paying it forward" through his restaurant for as long it has been open, but when the COVID-19 pandemic hit, he decided to take things a step further.

"It just started as something really simple, by giving gift certificates to frontline workers," Kim says. "If we could help with that little thing, one meal, that would mean a lot to me ... I started to donate gift cards to different organizations working on the frontlines [and] when people would hear that, they would come in and give us extra money to pay it forward."

During the brunt of the pandemic, Kim raised and donated over $5000 to Second Harvest Heartland, as well as several $500 gift certificates to organizations such as Meals on Wheels. Now, Kim is still raising money for organizations, but also for frontline workers.

In March, Kim donated $500 to the local Trader Joes as a thank you to their essential workers; in April, Kim began to hand out snacks to Woodwind Hospital, the Woodbury Police and Fire Departments, and the public workers for the City of Woodbury.

"With all of the crisis happening, we have to get back to... being kind," Kim says. In March, after the traumatic deaths of eight people in Atlanta, six of which were women of Asian descent, Kim says Duc's had their busiest day in months, thanks to a young local.

"I thought, 'What's going on?'" he says. "Well, a dad in Woodbury came in and told me, 'Duke, my 9-year-old son wanted to eat at Duc's because he wants to support you.'"

"We all could really learn from him ... To have him help the community and be so thoughtful ... We are just so blessed," Kim says.