We Grow Dreams
A dream in the minds of a small group of parents and the determination to make the dream a reality launched We Grow Dreams, Inc. Founded in December 2004, We Grow Dreams, Inc., a not-for-profit 501(c) 3 corporation, operates We Grow Dreams Greenhouse & Garden Center, a year-round business, in West Chicago, Illinois, for the purpose of providing job training and employment opportunities for people with disabilities.
Our mission is to provide people with disabilities the opportunity to lead fulfilling lives and to train and work in a supportive, safe and caring environment while producing and providing products and services to the community.
Usually when there are job opportunities, people with disabilities are often the first to be “let go” or downsized. Most companies cannot afford the time or resources to commit to one-on-one job coaching while training people with disabilities.
Our job-training program provides opportunities in the operations of a wholesale and retail greenhouse business. Over 45 specific jobs have been identified and implemented as tasks essential for the operation of the business for our people with disabilities (Team Members). Some examples include: deadheading plants, filling pots for seeds/seedlings, transplanting, spacing plant materials, watering, stocking plants/supplies, greeting & assisting customers, folding cartons, filling bags with soil, office tasks and maintenance tasks. In addition to the specific greenhouse tasks, our Team Members manufacture garden bricks, birdbaths, birdhouses, planters and other garden accessories that are sold as part of our retail operation.
A one-on-one job coach assists each Team Member. This coach provides guidance, instruction and support. All job coaches and Team Members attend an extensive job training orientation program prior to commencing the job-training program.
Each Team Member’s family participates in the program by contributing a minimum of ten volunteer hours per month. During this time they may assist their family Team Member or work with other Team Members.
Our program has been extremely well received in the community and, to date, we have 40 Team Members and their families participating.
Our greenhouse and garden center also employs a full-time professional greenhouse staff. These staff members are critical to producing high quality plants and vegetables. These staff members include: an Executive Director, a grower, production/sales manager, and other production staff members.