Archive for February 2019

Dreamers Gives Back Foundation

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Dreamers is three plus years old.

In the last 3 years, we have learned so much...

And now we want to make sure we teach all we can with that learning.

My husband and I are excited to announce that we are creating a training program that we believe will expand jobs in the Memphis area and beyond.

We are doing this by creating a new non profit called Dreamers Gives Back Foundation.

Dreamers Gives Back Foundation will focus on training in every area we can think of related to Dreamers Coffee Company.

Our hope is that any skills taught through our training program will enable those who go through it to go back to their community with a skill set that will be helpful to  them in their future job.

For now, we will be working with the University of Memphis TigerLIFE program as we continue to create this program.

Dreamers Gives Back Foundation will be a 501c3 non profit.

We are planning our first fundraising event, and we hope you will come out and join us!

Together we will help make Dreams come true!

Early Morning Pondering About My Hearing Loss

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As a person who was born severely deaf, I am almost always at a loss for words when people talk to me about my deafness.

People ask so many things.

I try to share my journey the best I can.

People say everything from, "I could not tell you were deaf."

All the way to, "You sounded different before you got hearing aids."

--To those who say they could not tell...

nor could many teachers, friends, family members, and many around me who now realize that it was right in front of them.

Trust me, I wish they could. Though, there was one person who knew. He just did not know what he did not know. My dad knew something was not right.

--To those who say I sound different than I did before I got hearing aids...

Yes, of course I do.

When a person can actually hear their voice, they can control it too.

I could not hear my voice.

I did not know what loud and soft meant.

I was always so confused when people would say, "Diane, you are being too loud."

Or when I would get in trouble for being "too quiet."

It all sounded the same to me.

My entire 50 years I could never grasp the too loud or too soft.

I wondered why I could not understand that concept.

So I would put my hand on my throat.

I knew if I was being too loud or being too soft by the vibrations on my throat.

I mastered feeling my throat and matching what the vibration felt like with those who responded to my voice.

"Diane, you are too loud...."

felt different on my throat than

"Diane.... you are being too quiet."

Both got me in trouble.

So I counted on my hand feeling my throat my entire 50 years.

In time, I knew how loud or soft to be.

Truth be told, I still made mistakes because I would talk and not hold my throat. Those times were few and far between because I was corrected rather quickly. My entire life.

As for articulation, I can thank my dad.

I was told over and over again....

Diane, articulate.

Diane enunciate.

Diane stop stuttering.

None of that made sense to me.

So I watched my mom.

I saw the way she made her words.

And practiced in bed, at night, making a t.

Even though I could not hear it.

I could see it. I saw my mom make a t.

I saw the way she put her teeth together. I watched her closely to see how to form words.

I trusted her.

And I knew if I held that t long enough, I would not get in trouble.

Same for s's, the th's, the f's, and so many other sounds.

They did not exist. But I saw them. I saw my mom make them with her mouth.

I mimicked my mom's movements of her teeth, her tongue and her jaw.

I practiced her movements in bed at night.

In time, everyone praised me for being articulate.

What ever that was.

I did not hear the difference between what I was told I was doing wrong, and what I now mimicked.

In time, I just did what I saw naturally.

That did not change that I could not hear.

I would lean in, and watch people talk.

People would mention how they loved how much I cared about what they were sharing.

I was, and am still, dependent on watching every thing you say.

I was lip reading every word.

I still do.

If someone is on the other side of the room from me, I will "hear" every word they say.

My friends have tested me.

We have laughed about my ability to do this.

I am getting lazy with these hearing aids, and I am counting on them more and more.

But even with them, I need to watch your mouth for me to "hear" you.

The bonus in all of this....

It turns out, I do not have a deep and gravely voice like I thought I had my whole life.

It is rather pretty. And very sweet. Nothing like I heard it my whole life.

And nothing like I hear it without my hearing aids.

I do not like to hear the voice I heard my whole life. I love my real voice.

In the morning, I would rather not say good morning to my family until I get my hearing aids in.

All of the world of sounds have opened up to me,

and my own voice is no different. It is truly my favorite thing to hear.

My hearing friends tell me how much they hate their own voice.

Not me.

It is like nothing I have ever heard.

And every day I am grateful for my voice....

And then there is music!

Not one single song I hear on the radio sounds even close to what I heard growing up.

My three residual sounds in my right ear did all the work.

(For those science geeks, they are in the low tones. I'm a science geek so I am comfortable calling you out. So yes, I heard three sounds in the low tone pretty normal, in my right ear. Which was where all of the work was getting done. Any sound I heard that was close to normal was a low sound.)

All the rest are somewhere on that crazy chart of hearing loss. On the audiogram.

It is not lost on me that a person who was born so severely deaf never heard of an audiogram until I was 50 years old.

And that audiogram changed my life for ever.

For the better.

Though it was so much hard work.

This "hearing" world was a lot to take in for a 50 year old, who has never heard SO many sounds.

Every single day, still today, I learn how to hear, and appreciate the hearing world.

I am a realist.

I know that my hearing is manufactured.

I know that those who actually hear are living in a completely different world than I am.

But I am grateful for every new sound I hear.

I am going on 3 years this summer living in the "hearing" world.

I realize many things.

For one,

I can snap.

I wrote about that right after I got these "machines" er, um I mean, hearing aids.

I grew up wishing I could actually make noise with my fingers.

I remember also wishing I could whistle.

I heard my own version of whistling and snapping.

When I got these sweet girls, who I call Faith and Hope, (thanks to one of my Facebook friends helping me name them), I realized what snapping really was, and what whistling really was...

and it turns out....

I can do both.

Very easily in fact.

I wrote about both of these tricks I could do really close to the first days of my hearing journey.

As I shared in the beginning of this post

 I still get asked a lot of questions.

I do my best to answer them as I take in what they are asking.

It can take a lot at times...

Some people will  ask me this...

"Do you think you lost your hearing? Any chance that you lost it, and you just now realize it?"

I smile when they ask this.

Those who have known me my whole life do not ask this.

My life finally makes sense to them.

And it finally makes sense to me too.

Meet the Spice Girls and their mom-Jill Spicer

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I am writing a series of posts introducing our many Dreamers and sharing their “why”!

Meet The Spice Girls!
Emma, Ella, and Finn- Jill's "Why"
Jill Spicer, their mom,  has been a dear friend to me for years.

I’ve watched her share her stories about her beautiful family over the years.

I was captured by her ease of acceptance and love for all of her children, and especially for  her three girls with Down syndrome. It reflected much of how I feel about MaryEllen, and was so relatable to me.

Tragically, Jill and her family lost sweet Finn/Vera suddenly last year.

In that journey Jill has gone on to be the teacher of love once more. Her “This is what grief looks like today...” posts have helped so many who follow her understand and walk through her journey of grief along with her.

Finn "Self Portrait art work. 

Finn's night to shine
In honor of all of her girls, Jill has remained a Dreamer.

She is incredibly supportive of me and of the Dreamers mission.

Here is what Jill wants you to know about her reasons for becoming a Dreamer:

“I was intrigued by the Dreamers mission from day one because I know the lack of opportunities afforded the disabled community. At the time I contacted Diane about starting our own dream company, I had three daughters with Down syndrome who were approaching adulthood and I wasn’t sure what they would be able to do for meaningful work. Our state isn’t known for being helpful in facilitating jobs for the disabled population, so I knew it would fall on me to look for opportunities for my daughters.

I believed in Dreamers as a concept because it provides the disabled population not only an opportunity to work, but an opportunity to be business owners and entrepreneurs; it gives an underrepresented group of people the ability to grow and not remain in a stagnant job situation.

I believe in Dreamers Coffee as a product because of the fact that it’s fair trade, organic, and most of all--delicious! Dreamers Coffee made me a coffee lover again.”

Thank you Jill for joining the Dream Team! And even more importantly your friendship!

To follow Jill and her daughters on Facebook follow The Shine Lab here:

To purchase from Jill and the Spice Girls go to:

World Down Syndrome Day #LifeisbetterwithYOU/ME T Shirts are available!

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You can order these by going to

Or by contacting your favorite Dreamer

Meet the Kowalski Family

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This week, I am interviewing Dreamers who sell Dreamers products!

I’m asking them to share with you their “why”!

Meet the Kowalski Family!

Mom, Laurie Kowalski, became a Dreamer and hit the ground running!

Here is what Laurie wants you to know!

“My reasons for wanting to be a Dreamer are my kids.
I’m so proud of all of them!

My daughter Kristen is the oldest.

She is an OT in Chicago and knows the importance of meaningful employment for people of all abilities.

She’s always been encouraging of her brothers and helping them to achieve their fullest potential.

Alex is 22 years old.

Charlie is 21.
They both have jobs and we are grateful for them but they are considered underemployed since they only work a couple of days per week. We hope to grow our business to where they can be more fully employed.”
To follow the Kowalski family go to:

To purchase from the Kowalski family go to :

Meet Jacob and Melissa Hoff

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I love sharing the “why” behind each of our Dreamers who sell Dreamers’ products! 

Meet Jacob and Melissa Hoff! 

Jacob is Melissa’s “why”! 

Here is what Melissa wants you to know about her efforts to grow her Dreamers business! 

Melissa said, “These (photos) all show Jacob at school included with his peers! That’s our why - if we want to change perceptions, we need inclusion everywhere, not just at school!” 

Melissa went on to say, 
“He is the most social, goofy, lovable little man and he deserves to be included and have opportunities like everyone else!” 

To follow Jacob and Melissa go to: 

To purchase products from Melissa go to

This is what it looks like when you see your face on a store shelf!

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MaryEllen could not be more proud of the coffee company we are growing to ensure she has meaningful employment when she is an adult. She helps me with small tasks at this point, to learn the business as she grows up. The video below the photo of her is precious! In it you’ll see her reaction just a moment after she noticed that her photo is on the side of this shelf. 
Turn up the volume to hear her joyful giggles! 

Mugs, notecards, and art work by MaryEllen Grover!

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We are excited to announce that we will be adding a new line to our Dreamers Store!

Artwork by MaryEllen Grover! (Affectionately called ME!)

ME LOVES to paint!

Look for her signature artwork on mugs, note cards, and other items soon!

We believe that the beauty ME brings to the world should be shared with the world!

These new items will be added to our Dreamers Merchants Coffee Company website SOON!