How Starbucks CUP Fund Helped a Barista and Her Little Boy

The longest six hours of Nancy Reynolds' life were spent worrying and hoping her little boy would be okay.

Her son, 7-year-old Denali, had a heart murmur for several years. Each time he visited the doctor, Nancy and her husband, Dave, were told he’s in good shape and “everything’s fine.” But that’s not what they heard last December.

“Doctors found a congenital heart defect and we were told he’d need surgery as soon as possible,” said Nancy, a barista and four-month partner at Starbucks Tempe, Arizona.

Denali was diagnosed with Scimitar Syndrome, a rare but well-known cardiovascular defect characterized by abnormal vein patterns allowing too much blood to flow to one side of the heart instead of the left lung. Doctors needed to reroute veins in his body. That required open-heart surgery.

“No mother wants to hear that. No parent should have to go through this,” Nancy said, as she prepared for the rough road ahead.

In February, Denali entered Phoenix Children’s Hospital for the long surgery and recovery.

photo shared by Nancy Reynolds

“That was an extremely scary time for us,” she recalled. “But I’m happy to say Denali is healthy now and doing well. We’re very fortunate that doctors caught the problem, and I’m very grateful for my work family who checked on me.”

Nancy is also thankful to her manager, Steve Aikins, who told her about Starbucks CUP (Caring Unites Partners) Fund. The CUP Fund is a financial assistance program started by partners in 1998 to help each other in times of special need, such as a family emergency or after a natural disaster.

“I didn’t expect to be missing so much work,” she said. “We were able to get a grant to help pay for utilities and housing expenses. I don’t know what we would have done without it.”

Since it started nearly 28 years ago, the CUP Fund has provided more than $16 million in grants to over 15,000 Starbucks partners. In the last few months, partners have had the option to “round up for CUP,” rounding up their purchase amount to the nearest dollar with the difference in change going to the fund. The round up campaign, which continues today, has raised more than $489,000 since launching in November.

“I want all partners who’ve contributed to the CUP Fund to know I appreciate them,” Nancy said. “Every cent from rounding up and every dollar from a paycheck means so much to families like mine.”

thumbnail for New Starbucks merch collaboration celebrates togetherness and joy in the everyday

New Starbucks merch collaboration celebrates togetherness and joy in the everyday