Military Spouse Brings Experience and Understanding to Starbucks

Amy Pappas’s day begins with a 7 a.m. visit to one of the Starbucks stores in her district. It ends when she finally closes her laptop hours after putting her children to bed. In between there’s time spent recruiting, training, team building and doing all that a Starbucks district manager does, along with helping her children with school work and her own coursework (she’s studying organizational leadership through the Starbucks College Achievement Plan). Finally, the vice-chair of the Starbucks Mid-Atlantic Armed Forces Network is a loyal supporter of a group near to her heart ­– military families.

She weaves together her passions for work and community service. “That’s what’s so satisfying about Starbucks,” she said. “I don’t feel every day like I’m going to work. I don’t think, ‘It’s Monday. I have to go to work today.’”

Pappas and her family currently live in Virginia, but have called California, Texas and Arizona home for stints ranging from six months to three years. Their most recent move was prompted by her husband’s transfer to Marine Corps Base Quantico in Prince William County, Virginia. A 20-year Marine Corps veteran, Daniel Pappas retired last December as a master sergeant.

May 6 is Military Spouse Appreciation Day

Military Spouse Day or Military Spouse Appreciation Day is celebrated on the Friday before Mother’s Day in the U.S. Many Starbucks partners (empoloyees) and customers use the day to acknowledge the significant contributions, support, and sacrifices of spouses of those in the Armed Forces. In addition, May is National Military Appreciation Month

Pappas will be representing Starbucks at events it’s cosponsoring in Arlington, Virginia, this week, including the 2016 Military Spouses Town Hall hosted by Military Spouse magazine and a Military Spouse of the Year reception.

Amy Pappas joined Starbucks a year and a half ago. She feels like there was something fortuitous about the timing of her arrival. The company was ramping up an initiative to hire 10,000 veterans and military spouses by the end of 2018. The first event she attended as a partner (employee) was the November 11, 2014, Concert for Valor, an all-star extravaganza in Washington, D.C., staged by HBO, Starbucks and Chase to raise awareness of issues affecting veterans.

“By the time I was done with my training, the company seemed to be ready to move forward getting the military hiring initiative off the ground,” she recalled. “That’s around the time Starbucks Armed Forces Network started in the Mid-Atlantic and now I’m vice chair. I’m supposed to be here. That’s what I feel.”

A Sense of Leadership

Jeff Danley, director of Maryland region operations for Starbucks, recruited Pappas to join the Armed Forces Network last spring and has been wowed by the contributions she and others from the military community bring to the company, beginning with professionalism and integrity.

“Certainly there are leadership components that you can’t teach,” Danley said. “From Amy, it’s her understanding and support for other partners. I think she’s lived and gone through quite a bit around deployment and being home alone to raise her children, at times when her husband was overseas. She has seen and experienced much of what our partners in that space have articulated and is able to really relate to them.”

“What veterans bring to Starbucks is a sense of leadership,” Pappas said. “It’s understanding the job requirements and owning what’s required of them. When you hire a military spouse, you’re getting a partner who is deeply committed to the relationship that they have not only with the military, but with others who they meet. Because spouses are so transient, it’s easier for us to start conversations and connect with people. With spouses, you get that sense of independence.”

Pappas is engaged at all levels where military personnel and their families are concerned. At Starbucks stores, she finds it easy to recognize those with military backgrounds by their posture and composure. Where spouses are concerned, she knows first-hand the anxiety they feel around employment, finances and parenting, and she focuses on addressing their day-to-day challenges.

Danley credits the ever-active Pappas with launching a military spouse roundtable at Starbucks stores that provides a social outlet, but also has become a Starbucks recruiting tool. She’s made her presence felt at the Muster last month in Washington, D.C., where she was joined by her husband.

Pappas and her family are finally settling down. They are in the process of moving into a house they’ve purchased in Fredericksburg, Virginia. Daniel Pappas is now a firefighter in nearby Stafford, a job that suits his desire to maintain the sense of service and camaraderie he felt as a Marine.

“I honestly feel that Starbucks is woven into the fabric of who I am,” she said, “because I do events and I talk about Starbucks and I bring Starbucks with me every day of the week."

This feature is part of a monthly storytelling series featuring Starbucks veterans and military spouses who are contributing to the company's business, culture and community.

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