New coffee shop blends community

On a windy day of November, the employees of Cameron’s Chocolates and Coffee reach out to the community with a warm heart.

Cameron’s Chocolates and Coffee, located at 9639 Fairfax Boulevard, is a new non-profit founded by two parents, Ellen and Jim Graham. They wanted to create a workplace with a friendly environment for young adults with intellectual disabilities like their daughter, Cameron.

After successfully graduating from Langley High school, Cameron entered the Davis Training Center, a four-year county-run training program. This program introduced Cameron to the catering business, which became her true joy. After noticing Cameron’s passion for baking, Ellen and Jim Graham creating a store for their daughter became inevitable.

The young employees form the comfortable atmosphere of Cameron’s Chocolates and Coffee. They involve themselves in diverse aspects of the store, from dipping chocolates to working in the front engaging with others. “Everything is made here by hand,” Mrs. Graham said.

Ellen and Jim Graham’s mission was to provide a meaningful employment opportunity for young adults with intellectual disabilities. “Our goal is to be a part of a community and work hard,” Mrs. Graham said. The inspiration they received from their daughter brought young individuals together who loved to give.

A former student, Tom Jackson, was encouraged to be a part of this welcoming community. Jackson, who has an intellectual disability, surrounded himself with young adults that love to interact with patrons.

“The process was difficult and challenging, but we were able to receive help and support from other stores that employees people with intellectual disabilities,” Mrs. Graham said. Cameron’s Chocolates and Coffee is following the footsteps of Chilmark Chocolates on Martha’s Vineyard. “They’ve operated for 27 years, doing exactly what we want to do,” Mrs. Graham said.

Cameron’s Chocolate and Coffee is unique for its blending of two different communities which, by working together, learn to appreciate each other.

And within every hand-dipped flavorsome chocolate at Cameron’s Chocolate and Coffee lays the heart of appreciation from all the employees. “Everything is special her–especially the chocolates,” Ms. Graham said.