The child of a single parent with addiction issues, Honey Jo Herman dropped out of school in eighth grade and landed in prison prior to her 18th birthday. After serving a six-year sentence, she found love, but also fell back into old habits. In 2007, Herman was devastated when her boyfriend passed away.
“I got hit with the truth like a sack of bricks and realized that I needed to do something different with my life,” she said.
Today, Herman relates to kids with similar challenges as an outreach worker for Alive & Free, a program of Seattle’s YMCA, which is dedicated to helping youth prevent and recover from violence and pursue their potential. In 2011, Seattle Seahawks Head Coach Pete Carroll partnered with Alive & Free to create A Better Seattle, an initiative that aims to prevent youth gang violence in the greater Seattle area. ABS funds and supports deployment of Alive & Free’s professionally-trained street outreach workers. Over the past two years, Starbucks and its customers have contributed more than $200,000 to ABS.
“Starbucks is proud to collaborate with the Seattle Seahawks and A Better Seattle,” said Jackie Liao, director of Community Investments at Starbucks. “Together we can help support young people and provide a bridge to critical services, education and job opportunities.”
This year, Starbucks is donating $75,000 to the ABS job-readiness program, which invites Alive & Free youth to a series of classes designed to highlight how their skills, talents and experiences might one day translate into the workforce.
The positive results of this program can be seen in 18-year-old Ciera Watson. She met Honey Jo Herman eight months ago and is now planning to apply to college and pursue a degree in English Literature.
“When I met Honey Jo, I wasn’t working and wasn’t in school,” said Watson. “She became a positive adult for me to speak with and provide tips for my life. She provided references for anything I needed.”
Watson participated in the ABS job readiness program, where she improved her resume and learned interview and presentation skills. After completing the program, she was selected to participate in a special one-day job-shadow at Starbucks Seattle Headquarters.
“I was so excited when I got the job-shadow opportunity,” said Watson. “I learned what goes on inside of Starbucks. It’s a great company.”
“Starbucks has been such a great partner for ABS,” said Kelly Creeden, Managing Director and Head Coach Initiatives/Seahawks Special Projects. “We are grateful that the company has helped us provide invaluable opportunities for young people.”
The Starbucks Newsroom will provide additional details about the Seahawks guest baristas in Seattle-area Starbucks stores on Tuesday morning, September 22.