Your job can be a lot of things: stressful, engaging, fulfilling, mundane, exhausting, challenging, uplifting to name a few. Mostly, it can be work. Work AND life can be any of those things on any given day. Showing up in the good, the bad, and the ugly is possible when you work with great people and for an amazing organization. You show up knowing that yes – there is a job to do – but you matter too. That’s when the job offers a lot more than just work. It offers safety, connection, and impact. That’s Starbucks.

Infused Goodness

For Starbucks, caring about their employees – which they call partners – is infused in everything they do.

It’s in their mission: to inspire and nurture the human spirit – one person, one cup, and one neighbourhood at a time. It’s the pump of goodness they add to every hand-crafted relationship – authentic care.

That care isn’t just lip service:

  • It helps partners who are far from home find a family.
  • It reassures someone having a hard day that they can cry during their break and still be and feel safe.

And that same care ensures that when a group of partners want to give back, they won’t wonder if the organization is behind them – they know they are.

Partners In Action

Revved up on more than just coffee, a group of Starbucks partners in Durham Region (east of Toronto) had a simple desire: to make a difference. But, like most people with big hearts, figuring out how to help (there is so much to do) was a huge first step. A venti sized first step. Coldest Night of the Year (CNOY) offered an open door to explore local organizations doing the exact kind of work they wanted to support. One place in particular, The Refuge, stood out:

The Refuge works with youth who are experiencing homelessness or are at-risk of experiencing homelessness, and who are struggling. Built on a foundation of holistic care offering food, housing, and community, The Refuge is a space youth can find community, safety, belonging, and a renewed hope for the future.

The Refuge was working with local youth who could be looking for a warm seat and a smile, or a job someday. “When we started to dig into what The Refuge was all about, it hit home,” shares Bryan, the Team Captain at Starbucks. The mission of The Refuge deeply inspired the action, because the Starbucks partners had learned, felt, and experienced the difference a caring, welcoming environment makes in their daily work. It was everything.

The partners knew they might be the first – or only – smile someone sees that day. They are one of the few people who truly cares when they ask a guest, “how are you?” They could be the single person to look someone in the eyes that day. The partners didn’t wonder what difference a warm, safe, welcoming place was. They already knew, and they wanted there to be more.

One More Step

The most powerful part of the story is that it kept going; it wasn’t just one year or a small group of partners. What started as a small group in 2019 became a whole crew of invested and engaged partners, teaming up to raise tens of thousands of life-changing dollars.

Last year, this team of Durham-based Starbucks partners visited The Refuge, met with the leadership team and were floored by the incredible work being done in their backyards. There was more to do – much more. This spurred District Manager, Bryan Kendall, and his team to recruit more partners to join the team, and more new donors. Using their creativity and the support of their store, they got to work:

  • They joyfully egged each other on and kept lively tabs on the donation leaderboard.
  • They encouraged each other, and every other partner on the team, with a tidal wave of support.

More than $20,000 later (!!), coupled with Neighbourhood Grants from the Starbucks Foundation (even MORE community impact) the Starbucks team helped The Refuge purchase a second facility offering scores of new beds and housing options for local youth. That’s some truly delicious, real change.

Partnered for Impact

The CNOY Challenge creates a space and place where Starbucks partners can unleash their energy, enthusiasm, and generosity. With simple, engaging, and streamlined systems, these partners turned dreams into reality.

We took this step together with our Starbucks partners and you can too. All organizations can make a huge difference, and if you are ready to engage, the CNOY team is ready to fill your cup with options, resources, and real impact. Let’s come together and be the change!