On July 4, 2019, a manager of a Starbucks location in Tempe, Arizona, asked a couple of police officers to leave because people “did not feel safe.” This interaction sparked a debate across the country about the amount of respect law enforcement officers deserve.
A Christian-owned coffee shop in Anthem, Arizona — about 40 miles north of the Tempe Starbucks location — heard about that situation and realized that they could do more to intentionally show their appreciation for local law enforcement officers.
Keith and Jeanine Walashek opened Amped Coffee Company in June 2018.
“We wanted to start a business in our community that would fill a void,” Jeanine wrote in an email to Liftable, a section of The Western Journal. “A place where people of all ages feel comfortable hanging out. A place that was unique with different nooks to do homework or get work done.”
Since its opening, the coffee shop has hosted live music on the weekends, trivia nights and two First Responder Appreciation Days. They even have a designated conference room that can be rented out for bible studies or business meetings.
“We wanted a place where people feel good just being here,” Jeanine wrote. “A place for community.”
When they heard about the Tempe Starbucks incident, they realized that, as business owners, they had an opportunity to show their support despite what happened 40 miles away.
“My wife and I have noticed that over the past 10 or 15 years that more and more people were portraying cops in a negative way,” Keith told Liftable.
“And after what happened to the Tempe officers on the 4th of July it occurred to me that we as a society, as business owners, as Christians, need to do a better job at defending those that are willing to lay down their lives for us.”
Defending and showing love toward first responders is something that hits close to home for Keith and Jeanine; one of their sons serves as a police officer in the Phoenix area.
Keith said it’s given them “a very unique perspective.”
“That perspective gives us the ability to see through their eyes the good and the evil that exists in humanity,” he wrote. “Being the parents of a police officer is not an easy thing to be, not a day goes by that we don’t wonder if our child will return safely to his wife and children, when we say ‘I love you’ we don’t know if that is the last ‘I love you.’”
After hearing about the Tempe officers who were asked to leave their local Starbucks, and considering their own son, Keith and Jeanine decided to establish a new policy that would show their overwhelming support toward law enforcement.
On July 6, 2019, the coffee shop wrote on its Facebook page, “Calling all Police Officers, Amped Coffee and ALL of its employees want you to know that we are so thankful for how selflessly you serve and protect us! As a very small token, (compared to what you do for us) please let Amped buy you your next cup of coffee and any cups in the future.”
Less than a week after it was first published, the post received over 1,000 reactions.
Although he was surprised by how quickly the post was spread, Keith told Liftable that he wasn’t surprised by how supportive the community in Anthem was.
“We are very fortunate to live among some pretty awesome people and my wife and I feel blessed to be part of it,” he said. “This community knows how to rally around its heroes.”
“Our decision to offer free coffee to any Police Officer that came in was not intended to be a political move, or dig at any other business and it certainly wasn’t to profit off a bad situation as some have suggested,” Keith clarified. “We simply wanted to find a way we could express [our] gratitude and to let these men and women know that we have their backs.”
Ultimately Keith and Jeanine hope that their new policy not only shows Arizona law enforcement officers how much support they have in their communities but that it will encourage other officers across the country.
“I hope that police officers every where are reading all the responses to our post, so that they can see that there is way more people behind them then there are against them,” Keith said. “I would encourage more businesses to find ways to publicly show their support.”
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