Authored by Shannon Gardner, City Year AmeriCorps member at Highland Park Elementary School
Feeling spiffy in professional dress rather than the usual khakis and red, corps members enjoyed an action-packed day of networking with the dynamic, fun-loving partners of Starbucks. In addition, free coffee was available all day, keeping us optimally caffeinated. Would our time at Starbucks Headquarters really be complete without coffee?
The City Year AmeriCorps Member Ambassadors arrived at the Starbucks Headquarters a little earlier than the rest of the Corps for an hour of “Coffee Mingling”, where we had the opportunity to engage with over 30 Starbucks partners whose positions ranged from District Managers to Regional Directors and many of whom showed great interest in our work with students. Upon introductions, we shared a sliver of our City Year story and enjoyed light conversation. Many of us shared stories of progress with students, as well as the path that led us to our service. Since values closely align between City Year and Starbucks, we brainstormed unique means of integrating our two organizations for the benefit of our Seattle communities. It was a treat for us AmeriCorps Members to exchange our passions, dreams, and experiences with compassionate Starbucks partners. Simultaneously, we learned a great deal about their unique career paths and current positions at the one and only Starbuck Coffee Company.
The adventure continued with a Coffee Tasting, where we learned the four steps of truly tasting a sample of coffee. Smell, slurp, locate, and lastly, describe. I think even our most hesitant caffeine drinkers enjoyed the delicious sample of coffee!
Next, the bubbly and vibrant Theresita Richard, HR Director at Starbucks, led us through a therapeutic activity in which we explored our individual life paths. She granted us with the time, space, and freedom to draw our “life map” in whatever way we saw fit. Upon completing our map, we practiced sharing our story with the stranger beside us, learning how to construct a briefer version of our complicated, intricate lives to someone who knew nothing about us. This experience required vulnerability and a bit of discomfort, but ultimately led to deep connection and growth. It was exciting to find that the Starbucks partner to my left was also a Buckeye from Columbus, Ohio. Small world, huh?
The day continued with the Learning from Leaders Lunch, where we enjoyed sandwiches and listened to introductions from all the gracious Starbucks partners. Roxhill Elementary Team Leader, Jomar Figueroa, asked partners to introduce themselves and share their favorite comfort food. Biscuits & Gravy, Mac & Cheese, and Fried Chicken were among the crowd favorites!
Overall, corps members enjoyed a fantastic day of caffeinated beverages and inspiration from a company that shares a multitude of our City Year values. We look forward to further partnership and the implementation of new ideas built together in the near future!