One of the most pressing social issues in any city is the plight of the homeless. It's amazing while working as a Starbucks partner how many of our neighborhood's homeless benefit from having a Starbucks nearby. Day-old bread goes to food banks and shelters, and regular customers hop in to purchase an extra coffee for those who can't afford it.
Beyond that however, is the opportunity as partners and community members to get a little more hands on. Every quarter Starbucks partners with SOME INC. in Washington D.C. in providing meals to the needy. Nearly 30,000 meals per month are donated freely by SOME INC to any who are hungry, down and out. But it goes beyond just settling a growling stomach. As it's posted in the mess hall at SOMEs DC location, "SOME strives to help people change lives, make friends and build community." It's no wonder that volunteering time at SOME is the perfect fit for Starbucks, its partners and customers.
Ironically the volunteer will find him or herself doing many of the same duties working at Starbucks demands. I mopped floors, wiped tables and greeted "customers" with eye contact, sending them away with food and a "thank you!" And yet, knowing you are helping someone who really needs a hand even makes mopping the floor less of a chore. And the pay, while not in dollars or cents, is so fulfilling, I was in a good mood the rest of the week. Volunteering does that. It's not always easy or convenient to volunteer, but that's part of what makes it worth it and satisfying.
If you missed this one, Starbucks partners with SOME INC every few months. And once you're signed up with SOME, you can always go back whenever you want, with or without Starbucks on any day that fits your schedule. Building community is humbling, engaging, worthwhile and necessary. Connecting with those who are truly down and out opens ones eyes to the struggle of people everywhere. It makes me more grateful, compassionate and motivated to be a force for good. It's Green Apron living at its best and tops my list of best things I love about my job.