Homeport Volunteer Profile: Andrew Bertolino

Andrew Bertolino with back to school supplies collected at Starbucks for Homeport children.

Andrew Bertolino with back to school supplies collected at Starbucks for Homeport children.

Bio: I grew up in a military family, so I've lived in many places including New York, San Antonio and Spain. I have lived in Columbus for almost 14 years. While I have studied Architecture and Culinary Arts, I eventually received my Bachelors Degree in Consumer Affairs and Business through The Ohio State University.

I have had many work experiences in different industries, but for over 13 years I have had the honor of working for Starbucks. I began as a barista, and am currently store manager in Bexley on Main Street. My favorite parts of working for Starbucks are the friends I have made, our passion for serving our local communities, the constant opportunities for development, taking on new challenges, and, of course, the coffee! 

How did you hear or learn about Homeport?

I initially heard about Homeport when I was managing our Arena District location and I was looking for a nonprofit organization to team up with for our Global Month of Service in April of 2013. One of my partners had a great experience volunteering with Homeport on a project for an episode of Extreme Home Makeover and suggested I take a look.

Why did you choose to be a volunteer? What did you expect and did your expectations match reality?

I chose to volunteer with Homeport after meeting with Rachel Ernst, former Volunteer Services Coordinator, for coffee on a couple of occasions and hearing what they were about and what their values were as an organization. I saw that there was a great overlap in Homeport and Starbucks' Mission Statements and realized it would be a great fit. I recognize that even though Starbucks and Homeport are in completely different industries, we both have helping people and serving communities at our core.

One of the things I was immediately impressed by was the full scope of services Homeport provides its residents; after-school programs, homework tutoring, produce distributions, back to school rallies and holiday book drives . . . the list was endless! I knew that there was a need for help and we had people who could do the work so I was excited to start the partnership. The events I have been involved in over the years have always been well organized, punctual, fun and genuinely impactful for the residents.

What has been your most meaningful experience as a volunteer at Homeport?

I have so many meaningful memories, but I would say that my favorite project to date was assisting in the rehabilitation of the Los Potosinos taco truck site in the King Lincoln District. I loved that we were able to brighten up the area with picnic tables, plants and other items to help truly transform the parking lot into an inviting outdoor space. It was inspiring to see what a direct impact we were able to make by joining forces for an amazing new businesswoman in the community. We were also treated to some of the most delicious tacos we had ever had!

I also love that we are able to consistently participate in school supply and book drives through collections in our stores. Each time we do this, I'm blown away by the generosity of our partners and customers, giving them a way to get involved and make an impact even if they can't attend a distribution event.

What have you learned about the need of affordable housing?

I have learned that the need is huge. Homeport has also taught me that it's not just about finding affordable housing, it is about all of the other services that families in need require to succeed. There are so many services that would be easy to overlook, but I know that we are lucky to have an organization that values them to the extent that Homeport does serving the Columbus area.

What would you tell a friend who was considering getting involved with Homeport as a volunteer?

Do it! I've had nothing but positive experiences working with Morgen Wade, Manager of Volunteer Engagement, and all of the other fantastic folks at Homeport. With so many different services offered to residents, there is absolutely a way you can get involved in improving Homeport communities.  Homeport has been extremely flexible and helpful in helping us achieve our community improvement goals at Starbucks and I would strongly encourage others to see if they can get their teams involved as well. I’ve been very thankful for and humbled by my experiences volunteering with Homeport and I look forward to what we can achieve together in the future.