Good Things Happen: Two Tylers, a cribs coalition and a drive-through reveal

Everyone knows that way more than coffee happens at Starbucks, and this month was no exception.

A tale of two Texas Tylers

Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. So, when 8-year-old Tyler Smith showed up at a Starbucks outside Houston, Texas, dressed as his favorite barista for Halloween, it was a big deal. That barista, also named Tyler, posted a photo of the two on Facebook.

“He said he picked me over Star-Lord from Marvel's Guardians of the Galaxy!” barista Tyler Coulter wrote. “What an honor!”

Coulter’s Facebook post went viral, and the story was even picked up by the local news station.

Tyler has been accompanying his mother, Megan Smith, to Starbucks since he was three years old. There, he met Coulter, a barista who always takes the time to talk to him about dinosaurs, super heroes and “Star Wars.” The younger Tyler also thinks it’s cool that Coulter is in a band called Unknown Brothers.

“Tyler Coulter is an amazing young man who I appreciate my son looking up to,” Smith said, adding that the store manager, Shery Mathews, is also amazing. “It’s an awesome store.”

The crib coalition

Our next story takes us to Rancho Cucamonga, Calif. – a name that is itself a good thing, and very fun to say – where a Starbucks partner and her colleagues went way beyond the call of duty to help a customer and friend.

When store manager Judith Alvarenga checked on her pregnant customer, Korotoumou Diakite, she was startled to learn the woman’s baby had come almost a month early. Diakite’s husband is in the French army and was set to retire and return to California in time for the baby’s birth, but because the baby came early, she was on her own for the birth of her son.

“She shared with me that she had Ubered herself to the hospital, and I was like, ‘What? No. I’m available. I can help,” Alvarenga said.

Alvarenga said her store is in the middle of a vibrant community where many of the residents, especially parents, know each other from school, sports, church or a combination of all. Alvarenga officially met Diakite at their sons’ school but recognized her as a Starbucks customer, and the two became friends.

“She was going to Uber back from the hospital after being released, and I told her to let me pick her up and take her home,” Alvarenga said. “Then I asked her if there was anything else she needed, and she said, ‘No, I’m just going to get home and build the crib. I said, ‘Wait, you just had a baby yesterday!’ I decided I was just going to do it.”

When her district manager Bryan Johnson asked how mother and baby were doing, Alvarenga mentioned the crib still in its box, and a few group texts and minutes later there was a crib coalition, and even a carpool.

“That’s our team. That’s what we do,” Alvarenga said. “We talk about this on our team all of the time. We don’t want to do the work just in our stores, we want to be a big part of our communities.

These are the communities we serve. If we can get involved in doing any type of good here, we’re going to do it.

Johnson and store managers Jon Pierce and Marcus Allen went with Alvarenga to build the crib. Diakite was speechless.

“I didn’t know what to say,” she said. “My husband was retiring and coming back home in a few weeks, but the baby came early, and I didn’t have anyone to help me out. I had the crib in my garage. It’s hard to express how I feel, when I was somebody in need and couldn’t find anybody to help and then they showed up to build it. I was so happy about it I almost cried.”

‘New daddy, coming 2019’

Janna Ames has been getting coffee every morning at Starbucks since she became a high school biology teacher in 2014.

“It is kind of a staple,” she said. “If I didn’t have my coffee, my students would even say, ‘Oh, it’s going to be a bad day.’”

Her husband, Dustin Ames, has gotten in on the habit as well. (Adorable side note: the two met working at an Italian ice shop during high school.) When she found out she was expecting their first baby, she was looking for a fun way to share the news with her husband and decided to incorporate their daily ritual. She made two special sleeves for their cups – “New Daddy coming 2019” and “Baby Mama coming 2019” – and worked with the store manager to make sure they’d be ready when the couple made their morning trip through the drive-through.

“We pulled through the drive-through, and I said, ‘Hey, it’s Janna’ and gave our order. They had two teas ready with the sleeves, but I worried he would not pick up on it,” she said. “They held mine a bit longer, and he saw the baby mama and said, ‘Wait a minute!’ Then he looked at his and said, ‘Oh my gosh!’ He just kept saying, ‘Is this for real?’”

He was ecstatic. She then pulled out a baby onesie that read, “50 percent mom, 50 percent dad, 100 percent excited.” Baby Ames should be riding through the drive-through by mid-April.

A very special Frappuccino

Good things also happened in Yulee, Florida, where Brooklynn Gregory was ending a 100-day quarantine as part of her cancer treatment. Brooklynn loves chocolate chip Frappuccinos, but as part of her stem cell transplant, she had to follow strict rules, including not consuming anything that had been exposed to air for more than 30 minutes. When Brooklynn’s mom, Amber, explained this to the team at the Yulee Starbucks, they wanted to help. Partner Coral Bush opened a new bag of cups and lids, a new carton of milk, and a new bag of chocolate chips.

“She even opened a new can of whipped topping,” Amber Gregory wrote in a Facebook post later that day. “People – don’t forget, it’s the simple things in life that make a difference for our children.”

Brooklynn, by the way, has been released and is in remission.

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Coffee & Connection: Stories from Starbucks Origin Experience 2024 in Costa Rica