ingredients and products. Brown continued his support by helping to promote the business and get funding.
Vicki Morgan did design work, creating the perfect atmosphere for the shop. Jim’s business partner, Justin Dudley and his wife, Robin, were also instrumental in getting the enterprise off and running. A Wall of Fame honors all who have given their time, talent, and resources to make Cameron’s a huge success.
The shop currently employs four disabled workers with plans to double that number by the second quarter.
Landlord Glen Rosenthal embraced the Grahams’ work, helping to get everything in place at the shop and even placing Christmas orders for his clients. King Arthur Flour became a willing supplier, offering this small outfit the pricing normally reserved for much larger clients and also helped pick out products that would sell well in this area.
On the day that the first paychecks were handed out, it was one of those “gotcha” moments when one dad said, “Do you appreciate the fact that this is
Cameron Graham proudly holds the sign to their new store.
disabled workers with plans to double that number by the second quarter. When asked about the perception of their work life, Jim replied, “People might underestimate how the disabled see themselves. These young people understand that they are making a product, selling that product and that their paycheck is a function of their effort.”
the first time my 25-year-old child has received a paycheck? In fact we went to the bank, opened an account, and then my child took me out to lunch.”
The doors opened in October, 2013 and “things have really taken off.” They offer coffee, chocolates, bakery products and more. Cameron’s is open seven days a week and business is strong. They make chocolate at least five days a week with a weekly yield of more than 100 pounds using quality chocolate, toffee, and nuts. In fact, every creation is of high quality. They bake daily, offering chocolate chip cookies, muffins, scones and more. There are even gluten-friendly Fridays. (They don’t say gluten-free because the facility does use wheat in several products.) The underlying principle is to build a viable business with a great product.
Jim added, “It’s the same with every parent – their #1 hope is for their children to have independence, to be able to make it on their own. The parents of disabled children are no different. We got business cards for everyone. The first thing they do is hand folks their card and tell people to ‘come see us at the chocolate shop.’”
“People may come out to support what we’re doing, but they will keep coming back if they enjoy our products,” said Cameron.
“I like Jennifer, the store manager,” she said. “She helps us do stuff.” She also enjoys restocking the Grab-andGo display and dipping the toffees in chocolate. She’s not, however, fond of
The shop currently employs four
checking the bathroom for paper. Wendy is the job coach and makes the daily production list. Everyone has assigned tasks each day and if someone isn’t there for a day their absence is felt. Cameron does the Grab-and-Go, Maddie does the chocolate case, and Tom is in charge of breaking down boxes and collecting the trash. These hard workers are assisted by Cindy, a parallel worker, and assistant store managers, Lydia and Justina. Ask Best Buddy Patrick Bazin (Bazin’s on Church) about Cameron and her potential and he launches into high praise. “Cameron and I have known each other for seven years. She has great enthusiasm about cooking and life and loves dealing with people. We did a Best Buddies dessert event on a yearly basis and you could tell what great pride she took in her work. The last year she presented her chocolates. Her parents are super and I knew she would be successful at her adventure. Like me, she gets paid for doing her hobby. She’s a very good soul and I am proud to have her picture with me in the entrance of the restaurant.” Cameron’s Coffee and Chocolates is located at Fairfax Circle Shopping Center, 9639 Fairfax Boulevard, Fairfax, VA. For more information, call 703-2782627 or visit www.CameronsChocolates. com and www.every1canwork.com. v
Having returned from her Special Olympics basketball tournament where she scored a basket, Cameron strides over with a smile and a hearty handshake. She is anxious to join the discussion. What does she like about the shop?
MARCH // APRIL 2014 ◊