Quite a bit has unfolded since we first learned about former Starbucks employee Adrian Flores and his plea for assistance from the denizens of the internet.
After raising enough funds to pay his most pressing bills, Flores remade his GoFundMe page, gofundme.com/helpuslive. He headlined the new version "Please Help Us Save Our Home" and included an image from Google maps of a charming brick house.
As of 8 p.m. Thursday, July 4, Flores had received $1,700 toward his stated goal of $20,000.
But since the original story about Flores and his unfortunate situation came to light and touched the hearts of the internet, Starbucks has had a chance to respond. The company tells Clean Plate Charlie that Flores was not fired in January but resigned -- quite willingly -- in April.
Flores' internet plea for financial assistance came to our attention after director and actor Judd Apatow retweeted it.
We emailed Flores through his GoFundMe account, and he responded quickly and enthusiastically, grateful that we wanted to write about his story.
I greatly appreciate your support.
Here is my story from GofundMe. I hope you can use it to get me any support. Wow I cannot believe all of the support I am recieving. Thank you so much Rebecca.
Ive gotta say when I typed this out, it was such a terrible day, but these past few days have topped it all. Thanks to all the supporters today, I have been astonished as to how the internet community and the world can help a person out in times like these.
Fortunately our neighbors today fed us dinner. We are so grateful for them and for all of you out there supporting me and Branden. Branden says thank you so much.
As for Starbucks you may contact them anytime you wish. They are gone to me. I cant lie, I did enjoy everything about the company and working for it, until the end when I needed help, when I needed time off to be with my mother, thier new store opening was more important to them. I reached out to corporate and all they did was follow the district managers lead instead. I will never contribute to Starbucks ever again rest assure that. If you wish to contact them at any time you may do so on their help desk number. 18665047368. From the time I began with the company I have seen many people come and go. I always stood right by the companies side. For them to let me go after 9 hard years, just like that , and not welcome me back, after all those promotions, changes, adjustments, roll outs, you name it, after all of it, no appreciation at the end. And thennn for them to decline unemployment for me. ? Even worse! I dont care for Starbucks any more. I only care for my son and our furture now.
In this telling of his story -- which you can read in full here -- Flores' mother went into the hospital with heart failure on January 13. He rushed to her side in San Antonio, some 300 miles from his home. He said that his supervisor contacted him saying he needed to be in his store by 6 a.m. with a note from the hospital and that when he replied that wasn't possible, the supervisor told him that was unacceptable, that they needed someone who could be available at all times and wished him the best of luck. He said his mother died the next day, January 14.
His request -- and subsequent appeal -- for unemployment benefits was denied, and this fundraising effort was his last-ditch effort to make it through the end of the month. He needed all the help he could get.
So, we were pretty surprised to wake up to the following emails the next morning:
12:54 a.m. EDT
Rebbecca this is Adrian from gofundme. Please remove the post immediately. I do not seek further attention. Remove it immediately or I will be calling your upper management immediately.
12:58 a.m. EDT
Ive already contacted Rebbecca about this and she has not responded. I need it removed immediately. I never gave authorization to post my photo ,my name, and any other information. I need it removed immediately!
1:12 a.m. EDT
Remove it immediately Rebecca.
Hmmm. Something seems amiss... Let's check Twitter.
Methinks @atomiczx2 doth protest too much.
That's it! We will not have Judd Apatow thinking ill of us "news people."
But Flores wasn't the only one who emailed us. Jim Olson, VP of corporate communications for Starbucks Coffee Co., had responded to our request for a statement.
"First and foremost," wrote Olson. "The wellbeing of our partners (this is what we call our employees) is always a top priority for Starbucks. We were concerned to learn of Adrian's mother's condition and made every effort to accommodate his situation -- including offering him paid time off. Adrian resigned from the company in April."
Olson also included Flores' email of resignation, timestamped Friday, April 26, 2013 9:59 AM:
My mother is very ill and is being moved to San Antonio, Tx. I will be leaving very soon and living over there as she gets transferred over there on the 26th (tomorrow morning). Unfortunately I have requested my resignation from the company as of today. I have left my keys with Joe at the store. He has my codes and passwords. I have requested privacy for the next couple of days while we figure this out. Attached is my letter of resignation. Please forward this to XXXXXX as I had to send this to you since I didnt have her email with me at this time.
XXXX, thank you for having me on your team , it was fun.
Clearly this doesn't sync up with the previous tale of woe. After receiving Starbucks' side of the story from Olson, we emailed Flores with this new information and asked for his comment.
Immediately afterward, Flores seems to have set about erasing his online presence.
His GoFundMe account that had $1,700 as of 8 last night had been taken down as of 10 p.m. As had his Twitter account, @atomiczx2. A Facebook account called Fiverr Helpuslive that seems to have belonged to him is also gone. Luckily, we had taken screenshots.
Not only is the resignation email at odds with the GoFundMe story but it is also at odds with this accounting from his Help.com post in May where "I got fired on April 24th 2013. I got fired because I asked for an immediate leave of abscence due to my mother dying and tremendous back pain."
And it also differs from the tale told on his BegsList.org posting where "I left the company because of health reasons. I could no longer work and stand for long periods of time."
And it is very different from this oddly lengthy comment on a BlackEnterprise.com story about the growing number of single father homes. In this version, Flores lost his job in May -- no mention of a deceased love one or health problems -- but here his son's mother up and abandoned them.
Each of these accounts includes his full name, street address, and phone number, just like the GoFundMe version.
Finally, there is this version on a boating forum called -- ironically -- theHullTruth.com where junior member atomiczx2 explains that life is tough. "I lost my job April 26th 2013. I worked for Starbucks Coffee Company for 9 years. My mother became ill and I asked for time off, it wasn't granted, so I quit!"
So, did his mother die in January or in April? Or at all? Did he leave his job voluntarily in April or lose it in May? Or in January?
A few things seem certain. A man named Adrian Flores did work for Starbucks but does not anymore. A quick search of public records turns up a home at the address in Harlingen, Texas, owned by one Adrian Flores. And a Google Maps search of the same address reveals a Street View image of the charming brick house from the GoFundMe page.
Furthermore, searching the phone number he posts as frequently and freely as he does his address reveals Flores' more industrious side.
In this Craiglist post, "Adrian from Harlingen" is a tech wizard who can remove harmful viruses from your computer for the low, low price of $30. His number is also listed as the contact for Gamers US Central, "a small business growing into a medium size wholesaler. We have a large inventory available of many items."
No one is faulting Flores for attempting to make a living, nor is anyone faulting him for asking for help. Sites like GoFundMe, Help.com, and BegsList.org exist so that when someone needs to reach out and ask for help, they'll find it. This is exactly why requests that turn out to be less than 100 percent true are so harmful.
Most of the people who opened their hearts and their wallets to Flores gave $10 or $20; a few gave $30 or $50. One generous person gave $200, and another gave $1,000. But whether it was $10 or $1,000, their decision to give was based on Flores' story. They bridled at the unfairness of a big, cold corporation that would summarily fire a loyal employee while his mother lay dying. That his story has been all but summarily debunked hurts the people who are honestly in need of the kindness of strangers.
GoFundMe warns users to donate only to people they know. It advises donors who feel a user is committing fraud or breaking the law in some way, to notify GoFundMe so it can investigate.
As for Flores, perhaps his online fundraising days are over: