How chocolate can create jobs

Cameron’s Coffee and Chocolates from Treva Thrush on Vimeo.

Cameron’s Coffee and Chocolates is not your average coffee shop; it’s mission is to feed a cause that’s creating jobs for people with disabilities.

Cameron’s — created in 2013 — is the first business in the nonprofit Every1 Can Work, which helps provide jobs for young adults with developmental and intellectual disabilities. And with more than 84 percent of adults with disabilities unemployed, the business works as hard as it can to promise job security for its employees.

“Even though people have intellectual disabilities, they’re capable of so much,” Ellen Graham, co-owner of Cameron’s said. “What you want people to be able to do is achieve the highest level of independence that’s capable for that person.”

Graham, along with her husband Jim, started the business in honor of their 25-year-old daughter Cameron, who has autism. Graham said the bar was always set high for Cameron in grade school, so she wanted Cameron to have a work environment that did the same.

“That’s the goal here: Is to have our workers learn not only kitchen skills, but they learn life skills as well,” she said.

Cameron’s currently has eight employees with disabilities who work alongside work coaches. Together, they create an array of chocolates and pastries, as well as coffee drinks and smoothies.

But Graham said the business model is hard to run because she is currently running a for-profit business through a nonprofit organization.

“It’s a complicated model, and I’m the first one to admit that,” she said. “But as we go and grow, we’ll try to refine it.”

But despite the challenges, Graham described her customers as “wonderful” and “very supportive.”

“They want to do whatever they can to help us,” she said. “We’re thankful for that.”

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