Spouses of active duty servicemembers gathered May 7 at the Starbucks Military Family Store at Penrose Square-Columbia Pike to be celebrated on Military Spouse Appreciation Day as part of Military Appreciation Month.
Blue Star Families and Operation Gratitude partnered with Starbucks to bring together spouses for the in-person and virtual Town Hall event with senior spouses sharing personal stories of the challenges and rewards of military life.
“The reason we do events like this is because our military spouses sometimes feel very isolated in their communities from moving often to new places,” said Julie Riggs, National Capital Region Chapter Director of Blue Star Families. “We partner with Operation Gratitude and Starbucks to create spaces for our spouses to come together, both virtually and in person, and build a sense of community, not only with fellow military spouses but with civilian business owners and the entire community.”
The event was part of a partnership between Blue Star Families, Operation Gratitude and Starbucks to support mental health and bring together members of the military community. The town hall event included a viewing party for attendees to share their stories virtually with other military spouses.
Following the town hall, attendees were presented with Operation Gratitude Care Packages, which are assembled by volunteers including Starbucks employees, and include personal care products, snacks, coffee, and handmade items, as well as handwritten notes of gratitude from Americans across the country.
“Operation Gratitude is a national nonprofit that bridges the divide between military, first responders and grateful Americans,” said Program Manager Betsy Eves. “Through volunteerism we provide opportunities for grateful Americans to say, ‘thank you for your service.’”
In addition to the event, organizers coordinated an eGift card drive. Through May 31, members of the public can purchase a Starbucks Military eGift card for Military Appreciation Month. For every card purchased, Starbucks will donate $5 to be divided evenly between Blue Star Families and Operation Gratitude to support the mental health and well-being of the military community.
Samantha Knepper attended the event and shared some of her challenges as a military spouse.
“One of the most difficult challenges is the lack of a continuous career,” said Knepper, whose husband is currently deployed to Guam with the U.S. Navy. “I’ve done a whole host of things – delivered pizzas, worked at a bank, worked as a receptionist, driven a taxi, done nonprofit work and been a caregiver. But because of organizations like Operation Gratitude, Blue Star Families and Starbucks, my husband and I have met some incredible people and know his service is appreciated.”