United Way of King County hosts its Community Resource Exchange today (April 6) to connect people who are experiencing homelessness with essential services. For volunteers, including hundreds from Starbucks, offering hospitality is as much a priority as the assistance being offered.
The event draws about 1,200 attendees each year to the East Hall of Seattle’s CenturyLink Field for dental checks, mammograms, haircuts, shoes, job search assistance and a hot meal for the population confronting homelessness.
“The key thing that we hear from people who are experiencing homelessness is how isolating it is,” said Jared Erlandson of United Way of King County. “They feel invisible. The Community Resource Exchange is all about customer service. It’s about welcoming our guests. We don’t refer to the people coming in as clients. These are our guests and Starbucks really helps us get that across.”
One of the values Starbucks partners (employees) embrace each day is “creating a culture of warmth and belonging.” Erlandson said it’s important that guests who arrive for services and support feel welcomed.
In addition to providing coffee, food and a grant to help cover event costs, Starbucks makes it easy for partners to volunteer in force every year. In 2015, more than 150 Starbucks partners helped out. Nearly 300 of this year’s 550 volunteers are expected to come from Starbucks.
Joelle Nausin, a Starbucks partner and regular volunteer, has served in a variety of capacities through the years, from guiding guests through the 120 service providers available to making sure their coffee cups were filled. Her most memorable experience, however, was spending a morning with a woman who took advantage of a rare opportunity to create a piece of art.
“She sat there for a long time, because she loved painting and didn’t normally have access to paint or art supplies,” said Nausin. “She made this beautiful canvas and, in the end, gave it to me.”
About Starbucks Global Month of Service
Throughout the year, partners lead service projects and invite their fellow partners, customers and community members to volunteer with them. Since 2011, Starbucks has celebrated this daily commitment to improving local neighborhoods through the company’s Global Month of Service, where service projects are highlighted around the world during the month of April. For the past two years, Global Month of Service has focused on projects to support Opportunity Youth – young people ages 16-24 who are not in school or unemployed – alongside those that address other critical needs in local communities. Find volunteer projects near you through Starbucks Community Service Website.
For more information on this story, contact the Starbucks Newsroom