If You Can Dream It, You Can Do It

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When Diane Grover gave birth to her youngest child, Mary Ellen, more than a decade ago, she learned what it meant to be a champion for people with intellectual disabilities. Mary Ellen, or ME, was born with Down syndrome.

Over the years Grover advocated for her daughter and others with intellectual disabilities in a variety of ways, including founding the International Down Syndrome Coalition, but her most successful was handing out jam. On March 21st of last year — March 21st being world Down syndrome day — Grover handed out jam produced by a Colorado company, Steamers, that employed people of all abilities in an effort to create awareness of the disparity in employment rates for those with intellectual disabilities.

It has been reported that only 17 percent of people with disabilities were employed in 2015. Grover's efforts to bring these numbers into the forefront took her on a path of advocacy she never anticipated. Requests for more jam grew into greater demand for gift baskets which transformed into developing her own coffee roast which turned into running her own company.

Grover now owns Dreamers Merchants, a business which facilitates the vend of products either created or sold by people with disabilities. It started when Grover included coffee in her gift baskets which she sold to raise money for the Down Syndrome Foundation. She contacted J. Brooks and told them about her efforts, and the company encouraged her to create her own blend to both raise awareness of her efforts and funds for her cause. The Dreamers blend was born, which she advertised on her Facebook page.

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Soon friends across the country were asking to sell the coffee too, and Dreamers Merchants was born. That grew into selling artwork created by her vendors, or Dreamers, or products made by other advocacy companies, and most recently, Grover's first brick-and-mortar shop.

Sometime around Valentine's Day of this year, Grover and team cut the ribbon on their first coffee shop, Dreamers Coffee, located at the Vantage Point Golf Center on Macon Road in Cordova. Grover now works to help her merchants develop skills running their own businesses, either setting up tables at events to sell their wares, and Dreamers coffee, working in the coffee shop, learning how to frame their artwork, and other tasks. She now works with 25 Dreamers across the country, eight of them locally, and helps with 26 online stores in nine national locations.

For more information, visit dreamersmerchants.com or call 849-7111. Dreamers Coffee is located at 9580 Macon.

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