January 19, 2015 Sustainability

MLK Day Community Service is Personal for Starbucks Executives and Partners

“We get a little bit too nostalgic when we reflect on Martin Luther King’s era and say ‘I wish I would have been there. I would have stood up and done something significant.’ When we think back, we miss the opportunity we have to make a difference right now,” said Blair Taylor, Starbucks chief community officer.

“As far as we’ve come, we have a long way to go and this is your moment to stand up," said Taylor, whose father attended the March on Washington in 1963 where Martin Luther King, Jr. delivered his ‘I Have a Dream’ speech.

Taylor  was one of the speakers who inspired students and Starbucks partners (employees) gathered at the Samuel E. Kelly Ethnic Cultural Center on the University of Washington Campus before beginning MLK Day service projects throughout Seattle.

Later, Taylor and his family volunteered at a multicultural preschool in the city’s International District. “Our teachers have such passion for the children, so it’s great to have people from the community come in and clean tables, chairs, and supplies, and create education kits for families. This day means a lot to me and to our families,” said Mary Vo, center supervisor at the Denise Louie Education Center. 

Similar efforts were underway with Starbucks partners in dozens of U.S. cities. Partners worked alongside customers, community members and leaders of non-profit organizations to honor the legacy of Martin Luther King, Jr. through action.

Service projects included: sorting supplies at food banks in Houston; painting school murals in Philadelphia; cleaning a drop-in center for young, homeless adults in New York; environmental revitalization in Miami; and hundreds of other activities to support community needs.

 “I wanted to give back and to be part of this effort,” said Crystal, a first-time volunteer on Martin Luther King, Jr. Day and five-month Starbucks partner who works in Research and Development. "Being part of company like this, it’s a great opportunity to work together as a team to help this community."

“MLK Day is one of my absolute favorite days to work. It’s a day when I see communities everywhere get together and make things better for those in need. I love that we are here as partners sharing our passion, that’s part of who we are as a company,” said Christie, a Starbucks barista who volunteered on the MLK holiday before joining Starbucks and continues her service each year.

“I think community service is good for the soul, which is why my family makes volunteering on MLK Day a priority ever year,” said Cliff Burrows, Starbucks group president, U.S., Americas, and Teavana. “One person can make a difference and when our partners get together in groups to work on projects – whether it’s cleaning a school or packaging food for the homeless – they make a huge difference."

Click here to see the full-page ad Starbucks sponsored in several national newspapers to honor Dr. King's legacy. 

For more information on this story, contact the Starbucks Newsroom