September 21, 2014 Sustainability

Parents of Military Service Members Enlist Support from Fellow Starbucks Partners

A day before her 17th birthday this year, Alexis came home from school and told her mom she wanted to join the U.S. Army and she had an appointment with a military recruiter in an hour.

 “Where in the world did this come from? We’re not from a military family so this was a little out of left field,” said Sarah Cornn.

It’ll pass, she thought. This is a phase.

It didn’t. It wasn’t.

Weeks later, Alexis and Sarah were comparing branches of military service. Throughout her childhood, Alexis loved anything related to space. And since she dreamed of one day working for NASA, Alexis decided to pursue service with the Air Force. She took the entry test, passed her physical and was good to go. Except for one thing. Alexis graduated from high school early and was under the age of consent.

“I had to make the hard decision to sign that consent form and let my one and only child fly the coop. I knew it was what she wanted to do,” said Cornn. “So the decision was made and now I was dreading the days, counting down her departure to boot camp.”

Alexis would soon join a large military family. About 2 million men and women serve in the U.S. military, either on active duty or through the reserves. Sarah found support from the family she’s been a part of for about a year and a half – her Starbucks co-workers and customers.

Cornn is a shift supervisor at a Starbucks store in El Paso, Texas and has a new appreciation of the company’s commitment to hire 10,000 veterans and military spouses by the end of 2018.

Starbucks multi-year hiring and career development strategy focuses on establishing an internal infrastructure dedicated to matching the transferable skill sets of veterans and military spouses with talents needed throughout the company.

“Veterans and active-duty spouses come to us with a sense of community and service that adds tremendous value to Starbucks. They make us better, and however long they serve with us, we want them to feel welcomed, honored and supported,” said John Kelly, senior vice president, Global Responsibility and Public Policy.

Support from fellow Starbucks partners (employees) kept Cornn going as her daughter left to begin her military training. Her daughter was a frequent Starbucks customer and became an adopted member of the Starbucks family. Baristas signed a “we are proud of you” banner for Alexis when it was time for her to report to boot camp.

“My Starbucks family helped me stay focused and reassured me,” said Cornn. “The entire process was hard for me and my happy place was at work.”

Occasionally, it was her crying place too.

When a teen is sent off to basic training, families are out of communication with their loved ones except for random phone calls. Cornn was at work the first time she received a call from Alexis.

“I cried. She was crying. Alexis couldn’t even get words out of her mouth because she was so overcome with emotion,” said Cornn. “As a single mother I did my best to raise my daughter to be strong and independent. When that actually happens, there’s a part of my heart that says ‘no, don’t leave me.’”

Starbucks partners rallied around Cornn to lift her spirits and sent letters to her daughter to inspire her to keep going. Alexis made it through boot camp, completed training in California and is now stationed in Aurora, Colorado studying space operations. Cornn plans to see her daughter in just a few weeks, visiting her at the end of October.

“That girl is my world and I never imagined being a parent of a military child,” she said. “I am so proud of her – her dedication and sacrifice, and I love Starbucks for backing its partners and their military family members.”

As part of Starbucks veterans hiring initiative, the company launched Roll Call. Partners are invited to identify their connection with the military, as Sarah Cornn did. Here are comments from other partners who are moms of service members:

My daughter, Jenna Peters and her husband Brian Peters are both active duty Army. Jenna is stationed in North Carolina and Brian is stationed in New York. I am so proud of both of them. Brian has served overseas and Jenna expects to be deployed. Becky Hensdell-Smith

I have two children in the Air Force. My son is currently deployed and my daughter is stationed in Florida. My husband is a Marine, my father is a retired Air Force Captain and my grandfathers were in the Army and Navy. Dena Richison

My son is a Navy Top Gun fighter pilot. As a mom I have done a lot of pray, worrying and celebrating in the many moments my son has brought honor to our country and our family. We are blessed that he remains safe and serving. Felica Holden.

For more information on this story, contact the Starbucks Newsroom