Every Mother Counts
August 2009. Vogue magazine had a profile on Christy Turlington Burns. Mother. Director. Activist, and yes, something about being a Supermodel, too. What struck me most in reading this article was her passion for the issue of maternal health and the fact that she was using her name and influence for a greater good.
After her own experience of giving birth with complications, she had chosen to bring greater awareness to the issue by directing and co-producing No Woman, No Cry, a documentary about maternal health. It tells the compelling stories of at-risk pregnant women in four parts of the world (Tanzania, Bangladesh, Guatemala and the United States).
Moved and inspired by her message and by my wife’s life-threatening experiences giving birth to both my sons, I pondered how Starbucks could support this profound project – to bring a greater spotlight on the conditions and complications surrounding childbirth worldwide and to help reduce the hundreds of thousands of women who die every year as a result of inadequate care. One of the U.N.’s Millennium Development goals is to reduce maternal mortality by 75% by the year 2015.
The magazine led me to the organization Every Mother Counts, which Christy had co-founded with her executive director, Erin Thornton. After gathering additional research material, my wife, Andrea, and I shaped it into a formal proposal that I shared this with several of my colleagues on the music and entertainment team. It quickly found its way to Howard Schultz, who was himself inspired by Christy’s cause and reached out to her. A follow-up phone call was set.
An enthusiastic meeting of the minds ensued between Starbucks, Christy and her co-producer, Dallas Brennan Rexer. We discussed further ways to raise awareness. Starbucks chose to help support it by creating a Starbucks compilation CD, loosely patterned after our Sweetheart compilations. For those CDs, we asked some of our favorite artists to cover their favorite love songs. In this case, we’d ask musicians who were also mothers to write an original song or to cover a song around the theme of motherhood.
We made a list of some of our favorite artists and musician/mothers. I sent our list to Christy, who told us who she knew, who she’d met and added a plethora of her favorites as well to it. Then she wrote personal invites to each, asking for their participation.
The working title was Mothers for Mothers, until my colleague Holly Hinton suggested we change it to Every Mother Counts. A sharp idea, as it was both all-encompassing and an obvious nod to the compelling name of Christy’s organization.
It was also decided that we needed to make an overwhelmingly huge statement with our donation message. So $8 from the sale of each CD sold at participating Starbucks stores (at $12.95 retail) will be donated to CARE, in association with Every Mother Counts, to support maternal health care worldwide.
Christy brought the same passion and enthusiasm to the CD project as she did to her other, more serious efforts. We at Starbucks are incredibly lucky to have her as a collaborator in this endeavor.
The CD is in stores now and is an immediate way to help this cause for mothers worldwide (and also makes a great gift for Mother’s Day). For more information on how you can help raise awareness about maternal health and take action please visit: Care.org and Everymothercounts.org
And stay tuned for the second of three parts regarding our Every Mother Counts CD. Next week: The story behind the songs on the compilation.