For Bryan Allen, the National Civil Rights Museum has provided a profound sense of place and an invigorated purpose, so he makes it his mission to give back to the Memphis institution.
Allen, a district manager for Starbucks who relocated to Memphis two and a half years ago, credits the “almost sacred place” with deepening his understanding of the struggle for equality in America and igniting a passion for diversity and inclusion in his role at Starbucks. For the third consecutive year, Allen will volunteer at the museum as his fellow partners (employees) across the U.S. make their way to various service projects to commemorate Martin Luther King, Jr. Day.
A native of northwest Arkansas, Allen moved to Memphis from Illinois in 2014. The National Civil Rights Museum, which is built around the former Lorraine Motel where Martin Luther King, Jr. was assassinated on April 4, 1968, had recently completed a $27.5 million renovation.
“From the moment I walked in, I felt awe – just complete awe,” said Allen (pictured above – far right, in front of the museum). He recalled exhibits that evoke the experiences of Rosa Parks and protestors who staged lunch-counter sit-ins.
The nine-year Starbucks partner was among 20 Starbucks volunteers who directed visitors through exhibits, helped support technology needs and read to children at the museum two years ago on MLK Day. Last year the number of volunteers grew to over 100 and he anticipates more than 150 Starbucks partners and community members will contribute time this year.
In addition, Starbucks will also host a tent where coffee and hot chocolate will be served and partners will also take beverages to visitors standing in line to enter the museum.
“We did that last year and it took the experience to another level,” he said. “We made the decision to meet people and have conversations. Afterwards, I asked partners about this experience and almost every one of them shared how meaningful it was to have discussions with people and understand why they made an effort to be at the National Civil Rights Museum on MLK Day.”
More than a Day of Service
U.S. Starbucks partners often take a “day on” for the MLK Day holiday and volunteer in their communities. This year, partners began volunteering on January 13 and will continue to participate in service projects through January 22 as a way to honor the legacy of Dr. King. Partners joining a beautification effort in East Baltimore, assisting at a food bank in Los Angeles and providing one-on-one guidance to college-bound high school seniors from underserved neighborhoods in Chicago are just a few of the projects to take place across the country.
In addition, more than half of the 700 Starbucks partners scheduled to volunteer in Seattle, will support people experiencing homelessness as an extension of the No Child Sleeps Outside campaign by Mary’s Place.
Partners and customers can find a local community service project by visiting www.starbucks.com/volunteermatch.org.
For more information on this story, contact the Starbucks Newsroom