Starbucks in King County, Washington (the company's home location and birthplace) is fighting homelessness in its own backyard. The news reports that there are at least 500 homeless families on the streets of Seattle. I know I've seen larger estimates of homeless families in King County. In Seattle alone, between 2015 and 2016, there was a 19% increase of those individuals found to be sleeping outside, on a one night count. Mary's Place is a Seattle-based non profit that provides both a day shelter and over night shelter for homeless families. Today (December 19, 2016) I caught up with the executive director of Mary's Place, Marty Hartman. She talked about having homeless families literally showing up on the doorstep of their office, and not having enough shelter space. The shelter has taken in newborns and mothers directly from hospitals - 48 newborns this year and 64 babies under 3 months old.
With funding via partnerships with Starbucks, Microsoft, Nordstrom, Dick's, and more, Marty says it hopes to bring online 3 more "overnight hubs" in 2017, and the goal is to get to at least shelter space for "1,100" homeless families.
The Schultz Foundation is donating one million dollars to Mary's Place. During the month of December, customers can make a donation directly to Mary's Place via the registers at company-operated Starbucks locations in King County, Washington. For every dollar donated, the Starbucks Foundation will match it dollar for dollar, up to one million dollars.
The Starbucks Foundation is also donating one million dollars to Mary's Place, so it is 2 million dollars in grant donations (1 million from the Schultz Foundation and 1 million from the Starbucks Foundation) and up to an additional million dollars from donations collected inside stores.
If you see your local (King County) barista wearing a pin that says, "No Child Sleeps Outside," it's a sign inviting you to donate to fight King County homelessness. Look for signs in stores too:
Mary's Place has an annual event called the "Holly Jolly" party. It's a pretty amazing way to inspire and nurture the human spirit for very poor and homeless families. There's a lunch banquet, music sung by the Starbucks Chorus, and gifting event where children can pick out gifts to give to their parents and vice versa.
I saw a lot of what was happening at the event and thoroughly enjoyed it. Hope you enjoy seeing this too!
Here's the Starbucks Chorus, which kicked off the event singing holiday music:
By the way, numerous Starbucks partners, both from stores and the Starbucks Support Center (the Starbucks headquarters is called the "SSC") came together to help make this event come to life. For the banquet, many Starbucks partners helped set up and /or clean up the tables:
The holiday gift selection and wrapping part of the event was just so adorable. Long tables were set up where children could select a present for their parents, or vice versa. By the way, the parents and children had separate areas to select gifts and wrap them so they'd be a surprise when opened.
What was just adorable was watching the children wrap presents for their parents (with the assistance of Starbucks partner-volunteers helping them):
Mary's Place made this incredible event come together with the corporate partnership of Starbucks (and several other Washington based businesses)!
I also met with Jackie Liao, director of Community Investments at Starbucks and an 18 year partner, who told me that Starbucks felt compelled to do something and get involved, seeing the homelessness situation in King County to be a "disaster situation for families." And she assured me that Starbucks provided plenty of coffee for today's Holly Jolly event.
If you are in King County, please consider making a donation to Mary's Place at the registers!