On June 6th, I walked into my friendly Grovetown neighborhood Starbucks to find a newly redecorated interior. The Starbucks located at 222 Meridian Drive was chosen to be a designated military family store. Near the counter, a beautiful large wooden plaque reads, “This store is dedicated to people united by their courage to serve our country”.
Along side the plaque, a guide-on symbolizing the new found partnership between Fort Gordon and the Grovetown store. Local media and VIP guests, such as Mayor Gary Jones of Grovetown, Paul Lynch – military liaison for the office of US Congressman Rick Allen, Grovetown Police Department, Columbia County Sheriffs Department and Tammy Duke of the USO, gathered in support. Starbucks has made a commitment to dedicate 91 stores as military family stores. The stores will make it their mission to reach out to the military community and give them a home away from home feeling, staffing each primarily with veterans and military spouses.
General Manager and veteran, Chris Schmidt, gracefully hosted the ceremony reminding us of the importance Starbucks places on family. He could not contain his excitement as he stated the Grovetown store is the 43rd store dedicated and spoke of the hopes for the store and company as a whole. “We originally set out to hire 10,000 veterans [and military spouses] by 2018 and have exceeded that. Now we will increase that commitment to 25,000 by 2025.”
Samples of espresso and pastries were passed out as Aiken store manager, Dimitri Allmond, reminisced about the moment he realized his love of coffee on a tour in Iraq. On a day with a little downtime, “I sat down with my [first] cup of coffee, watching some of my team scarf down Cinnabon Rolls and almost felt a sense of normalcy [in Iraq of all places]…that is until the mortars started up again.”
A partner – how Starbucks refers to their employees – of the Grovetown store, received a patriotic apron from Sheri Vasquez, store manager. These special green aprons, embroidered with an American flag on the right side and name and branch (or branch spouse) on the left side, represent partners with affiliation to the military. You could tell Sheri was proud at that moment and received much support from Tisha Thorton, Starbucks District Manager. Overall, everyone seemed happy with the outcome of the ceremony. It was heartwarming to come together over a great cup of coffee and a room full of those that support and serve.
Find out more about how Starbucks is supporting your community by visiting starbuckschannel.com/originals/veterans/
When did this Starbucks location open? December 2017
How and why did the dedication come about? Building on the concept of the Third Place, we wanted to create a welcoming space to bring active duty military and their families together with their communities in our 40+ Military Family Stores (MFS) across the nation. These stores also serve as a foundation and model of engagement for hundreds of stores in military communities to advance Veteran causes, accelerate Veteran and military spouses hiring and bridge the military/civilian divide. The dedication taking place on Wednesday, June 6 will make the Grovetown Starbucks the 43rd MFS in the nation, and the third in Georgia, following the dedications of MFS in Columbus and Hinesville.
What do you hope to come from or achieve with this dedication? Realizing that there was a disconnect between the 1% of our country that have served and the 99% that have not, Starbucks committed to creating connections, opportunities and networks for active duty members, military spouses and Veterans to improve their transitions into the next phase of their lives. Military Family Stores are just one of numerous ways to support Veterans and their families, and we hope this store serves as a Third Place for the community it serves.
What is the relationship between Starbucks and the military? Is there a mission statement specifically geared toward this community? What started in 2013 as a commitment to hire 10,000 Veterans and Military Spouses has grown into an opportunity to create meaningful connections between Veterans and their communities and to be the leading champion for active duty service members, Veterans, Military Spouses and their families. Last year, Starbucks announced it had reached its commitment to hire 10,000 Veterans and Military Spouses two years ahead of schedule. Now, with 15,000 hires to date, the company is on track to meet its new goal of 25,000 hires by 2025. At Starbucks, we believe Veterans and Military Spouses make our company better and our communities stronger. Veterans bring considerable teamwork and leadership experience and are the next generation of America’s leaders. Starbucks is also proud to support U.S. Armed Forces through the following initiatives:
Patriotic green aprons to spark conversations between Veterans or military spouses and customers.
An additional tuition-free education to extend to a spouse or child via the Starbucks College Achievement Plan.
Starbucks Armed Forces Network, an internal employee affinity network with chapters in dozens of cities across the U.S. providing support for employee veterans, veteran spouses and friends.
Military Mondays, a program in Starbucks stores that provides pro bono legal support to Veterans and military spouses.
Military Service Pay to eligible partners when National Guard or Reserve obligations take them away from their work.
Partnerships with trusted Veteran Service Organizations including U.S. Chamber of Commerce, Hiring Our Heroes Foundation; Blue Star Families; The USO; Team Rubicon; and Team Red, White and Blue; and The Mission Continues.
And our longest standing initiative, “Adopt a Unit,” providing coffee to our service members deployed overseas.