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Everyone Can Work

((Banner: Providing Jobs))
((Reporter/ Camera: June Soh))
((Map: Fairfax, Virginia))
((Main characters: 2 females))
((Sub characters: 2 females; 2 males))
((Ellen Graham, Co-founder, Cameron’s Chocolates))
We make coffee, chocolate and bake goods fresh daily. We
don’t hire people to make chocolates. We make chocolates
to hire people.
((Sean Cross, Employee, Cameron’s Chocolates))
I like working here because I can make new things, like
sometimes I make coffee. Sometimes I make wraps,
chocolates like these, caramel, salted caramel.
((Ellen Graham, Co-founder, Cameron’s Chocolates))
We have 35 employees and about two-thirds of our
employees are intellectually disabled. The other third donot
have intellectual disabilities but work in parallel with our
disabled workers. So, we’re what’s known as a cooperative
environment where we all help each other out.
((Cameron Graham, Employee, Cameron’s Chocolates))
I'm making a recipe for sugar cookies, time four.
((Ellen Graham, Co-founder, Cameron’s Chocolates))
When I had my daughter Cameron, we determined that she
had some challenges, especially in her development. I
decided that I would try finding as many doctors as I could
that could help her. And one of the doctors told me that I
should accept the fact that my daughter would function on a
cognitive level of a three-year-old for the rest of her life. And I
didn't want to accept that. And so, I worked very hard to find
ways to help her grow and develop. And that journey has led
me through many steps. So, my husband and I came up with
our own model and that's Cameron's chocolates.
I need two pounds of sugar, Hannah.
((Kelsey Sohail, Job Coach, Cameron’s Chocolates))
This is our kitchen time now. So, we are making a gluten-
free strawberry bar and sugar cookies.
((So, what is your role here?))
((Kelsey Sohail, Job Coach, Cameron’s Chocolates))
My role is, I am the lead job coach. I support a team of four
individuals. But also, I supervise all the job coaches. So, I
go through and I make sure that they're following the recipes
correctly and that….
Yeah. Is that one stick? That’s two sticks of butter? Yeah.
All of the participants are different. You have to work with
them in different ways to be able to make them as successful
as they can be here.
Where did you guys just go?
We just went to the laundry.
Here comes the other part of the team, right now.))
((Chloeie Rebecca Scales, Employee, Cameron’s
So, yes, I have been working here, again, around two years.
And we help each other and getting things all together, work
and I. We get a lot of customers. And we definitely have a
good healthy relationship with other people, job coaches,
managers and everybody else. We are all like a family too.
((Paul Provance, Customer, Cameron’s Chocolates))
My little group comes every Monday morning or as we can.
Well, it’s got good service and always nice little things like
muffins and good coffee. And I think we are doing something
good for our community by patronizing a very conscientious
((Kelsey Harmon, High School Special Education
I brought students here on a community-based instruction
trip. While here, we are looking at the different jobs that they
have. It's a great place to learn just because there are
people, all types of people come here and it’s very inclusive
to everything, to all persons.
((Ellen Graham, Co-founder, Cameron’s Chocolates))
Cameron’s Chocolates, we don't only look at the workers in
terms of just their work skills, but we look at their life skills.
We look at their social skills. So, our workers are broken into
teams. So, we take a local town bus to go to the grocery
stores. We walk to a local laundromat to do our cleaning
rags. We go to the bank and make our bank deposits, all of
the things that include us in the world outside of Cameron’s.
((Cameron Graham, Employee, Cameron’s Chocolates))
I am cooking tonight dinner for my family. I cook twice a
week because my mom said twice a week. I pick the days.
((Ellen Graham, Co-founder, Cameron’s Chocolates))
Not only my daughter but some of her co-workers have
started cooking meals for their families.
((Cameron Graham, Employee, Cameron’s Chocolates))
Today, I am making a chicken dinner. I love cooking.
((Ellen Graham, Co-founder, Cameron’s Chocolates))
There are other things that our workers do outside of the
shop. One of those things is Special Olympics. Special
Olympics touches the lives of so many of my workers.
((Ellen Graham, Co-founder, Cameron’s Chocolates))
For example, my daughter, in the winter, she plays basketball
and in the spring, she plays softball. I have another worker
who competes on a national level for ice skating. I have
another one who competes nationally for swimming. And so,
these are opportunities that exist. People with intellectual
challenges can still do phenomenal things, given the
opportunity to show you what they can do.
((Ellen Graham, Co-founder, Cameron’s Chocolates))
Over 84 percent of people with cognitive disabilities are
unemployed but they're not unemployable. And there's a big
difference there.
((Photo Courtesy: Cameron’s Chocolates))
((Ellen Graham, Co-founder, Cameron’s Chocolates))
Our store opened in 2013. Initially, we started with three
workers and today, we have 20-something workers who
might not otherwise have jobs. We are proof that people with
intellectual disabilities can have meaningful employment and
be productive members of society.
((Ellen Graham, Co-founder, Cameron’s Chocolates))
I would hold our bakery products against anyone else's. Our
chocolates are some of the best chocolates you can buy
((Ellen Graham, Co-founder, Cameron’s Chocolates))
All of us are different but all of us have gifts.
((Popup Banner: Since the outbreak of COVID-19,
Cameron's Chocolates has closed, leaving many of its
employees without jobs and the daily social interaction they