2007 Dreamers into Doers Honorees
A talented quilter and a loving mom, Cindy Kerr started making colorful pillowcases to brighten up her son Ryan's hospital room during his cancer treatments. One mom's dream to make her child happy gave rise to ConKerr Cancer, the group Cindy started to provide cheerful pillowcases for other children with life-changing illnesses. Since winning the 2007 Dreamers into Doers Award, ConKerr Cancer has expanded its contributions from 6 to 48 hospitals, reaching more than 38,000 sick children, providing them beautiful handcrafted pillowcases.
When money was tight, Kim Waite dreamed of making personalized cards for her children. Kim's Custom Cards has grown from a hobby into a successful stationery business, with products found in stores across the country. Kim's Custom Cards continues to grow while offering a variety of personalized stationery, specialty cards, and unique gift items. In 2007, Kim's Custom Cards displayed in 25 trade shows along the East Coast and more than doubled its web business.
Lara Guerra taught herself chocolate-making while at home after the birth of her second daughter. With an eye on evolving her hobby, she pitched wine-themed chocolates to local Sonoma, California, wineries and a business creating handcrafted chocolate bars was born. Lara has ventured into other career opportunities since being honored as one of the Dreamers into Doers Award finalist in 2007, but she continues to keep her book of business while juggling her busy girls, career, and making chocolate.
Watching her husband and daughter undergo chemotherapy, Laura Stachler wanted to help. Through her passion for baking, she developed the ultimate gingersnap, naming the cookies Susansnaps for her sister who lost her battle with cancer and her daughter who beat the disease. A portion of every sale is donated to cancer research. Since the 2007 Dreamers into Doers Awards, Susansnaps has added cocoasnaps and citrussnaps to its line. Along with expanding its cookie line, Susansnaps continues to grow its Susan Carver Foundation, supporting cancer patients and research.
Linda Z. Smith
As one of five children from a single-parent family on welfare and the first of her siblings to graduate from college, Linda Z. Smith is no stranger to challenges. She cofounded the nonprofit Creative 360 to serve as an arts haven for at-risk teens and special-needs children in foster care, among others. Since the 2007 Dreamers into Doers Awards, Creative 360 has developed many rewarding collaborations, helping the nonprofit with funding and exposure. It has fostered partnerships with the Junior League, alternative high schools, and the Juvenile Care Center, as well as with a local recycling center.
Determined to transform a trash-filled utility strip along a busy local road into a community flower garden, Lorraine Donlon started Residents for a More Beautiful Syosset, a nonprofit organization of local Long Island, New York, families. Being honored as a Dreamers into Doers Award finalist has transformed Lorraine into a fearless community advocate. She has been working closely with the Nassau County Department of Public Works on the engineering redesign of Jackson Avenue, the town's main road. The nonprofit is also a member of the Syosset Hamlet Plan, which recently unveiled a very ambitious agenda to totally revitalize Syosset's downtown.
Mary Beth Schad
When a friend mumbled, "I'd buy these from you," Mary Beth Schad got busy turning her passion into profit. Now Ellie & Ollie offers five varieties of beautifully packaged cookies for gifting, and Mary hopes someday to license the brand so others can work while staying at home with their children. To Mary, Ellie and Ollie Cookies for Dinner has really felt like a "dream" since being honored as a Dreamers Into Doers Award finalist.
Shannon Cumberland began making beeswax candles at her own kitchen table. Local stores first sold the candles; eventually Shannon's business, Rosy Rings, was selling more than 300,000 hand-poured candles annually nationwide. In 2007 that number grew by 20 percent, reaching sales of $2.3 million. Shannon is working on incorporating more natural and organic ingredients, such as soy wax, into the Rosy Rings line (the new Honeysuckle Orange Blossom is a best seller). Rosy Rings continues to grow and has moved into a new 15,000-square-foot facility -- which the company owns.
Inspired by a friend's army-major brother, Susan Hager melded her loves -- baking and dogs -- to launch Cookie Brigade to help support U.S. troops. As of April 2008, Cookie Brigade has sent 37,000 cookies and 8,500 dog biscuits to Afghanistan, Africa, Germany, Iraq, Japan, Kuwait, and South Korea. Since being recognized as a Dreamers into Doers honoree, Cookie Brigade has received its 501c3 nonprofit status, making all donations to it tax-deductible. Susan was also selected by her local paper, the Inter-County Leader, as one of the area's most influential people of 2007.
Valorie Barrett's dream to create financial independence for herself, her daughters, and women who need a helping hand was realized when she started her business. Valorie's goal continues to be focused on hiring women in need who can't provide for their children, thereby improving their quality of life. Since the 2007 Dreamers into Doers Awards, Covenant Cleaning Services has tripled its client base and is now able to employ more women and help change lives by promoting self-improvement and independence
Working as a corporate consultant, Victoria Wesseler's head was in the boardroom but her heart was in the garden and kitchen. She completed personal chef and master gardener courses before launching Going Local, which celebrates the abundance of Indiana's regional foods. The Going Local site continues to grow in visitors each month; Victoria has expanded it to include Indiana farmers' markets and local food events in addition to the producer profiles, gardening tips, and recipes.