Members of Our Board
Our board gives We Grow Dreams the guidance and support that it needs in order to continue to be successful.
They work very hard to make the concept of We Grow Dreams and our mission known for the world to see.
Ben and Crys’s son, Eric, has been a team member for 13 years. Ben has been on the Board for over 11 of those years. He is retired from IBM as a Project Executive since 2007 and in his spare time likes to golf, travel and volunteer at We Grow Dreams.
We would be lost without Ben’s skills at fixing things…there is usually a list of items that aren’t working that require his ability to find parts online or make a trip to Menards and there are very few tools or pieces of equipment that have gotten the better of him!
Donna is one of the founders of We Grow Dreams dating back to 2006, when her son, Justin was aging out of the area high school Transition Program and she recognized the need for a place for individuals with disabilities to go to learn viable job skills and training. The entire Jarmusz family became involved in doing whatever was needed to keep the greenhouse functional and strong for the Team Members
Donna F. Jarmusz possesses over thirty years of extensive healthcare and corporate experience. As a healthcare administrator, Jarmusz held senior management positions in operations, business development, strategic planning, marketing and development/fundraising. As a leader in health and wellness, Jarmusz developed the first free-standing medically based health and fitness centers in the Chicago, Illinois metropolitan area.
She is the founder and president of IBIS Enterprises, which is a national business and facility development company specializing in turnkey multi-generational public-private community partnership projects for health, wellness, recreation, senior living and academic and research centers.
Karen is a retired actuary, after 30 years working in Property and Casualty Insurance. Since 2006, she’s been active with many volunteer activities, most of which involve gardening and sustainability. She chairs the Green Team at First Congregational United Church of Christ in Elmhurst, representing the church on the Elmhurst Cool Cities Coalition, and runs the Green Garden Fair. Karen has been a U of I Extension Master Gardener volunteer since 2009 and began volunteering at WGD that same year.
She helps out with the annual Bowlathon fundraiser and heads up a group of Master Gardener volunteers who work at the greenhouse providing gardening expertise and guidance to team members during the school year. During the summer, they help team members manage 12 raised beds on the property, where they have grown hundreds of pounds of food for the Northern Illinois Food Pantry.
Karen’s husband, Don, is also an avid gardener and can occasionally be found planting seedlings or doing chores at WGD…they both enthusiastically support our mission and have a personal connection through their own family member with challenges.
Holly is one of the co-founders of We Grow Dreams. Along with Donna Jarmusz and Art Swanson, she envisioned a safe environment where individuals with disabilities could learn work skills in a community-based environment. She has been a school scoial worker in the Plainfield IL school district for almost 20 years. She is also a Licensed Clinical Social Worker and has her Master’s degree in Educational Leadership.
Holly is a member of the Council for Exceptional Children, the National Association of Social Workers, and the Illinois Association of School Social Workers. She is currently a member of the ACEs (Adverse Childhood Events) committee and the Building Autism Team for the Plainfield (IL) School District. Holly and her husband, Mark, have four grown children and reside in Naperville. For her, We Grow Dreams is her “fifth child.”
Eric is one of our newer board members but is by no means new to We Grow Dreams. He started in 2008 as a parent vollunteer for a family member who was working there on weekends. He enjoys gardening and feels that WGD is a good organization to volunteer for.
Outside of WGD, he is a mechanical engineer and likes to do home vegetable gardening, working on cars and completing some minor home projects.
There is always a list waiting for Eric when he arrives at the greenhouse to fix, assemble, move or improve whatever needs some attention that week.
Linda recently joined the board but has been an integral part of the greenhouse since it started. She explains her history:
“I recall discussing with Donna Jarmusz at a track meet at which both my son, Billy, and her son, Justin, were competing, the possibility of her establishing a low-tech, labor-intensive business for our young men and others. The guys were in high school at the time, but facing transition and the adult world soon. I kept track, over the next few years, of Donna’s progress. When the orientation meetings were held, I was there. When the business plan was explained, I was behind it. We became one of the first 40 families to sign up.
When WGD opened, Billy was 18 and in transition. I was working full-time. So we started on Saturday mornings, with the intention of the school district taking over my position once Billy was used to the work. My thinking was too out-of-the-box for our district and they never assisted. So, Saturday mornings at the greenhouse became our routine. Year after year, after year.
Billy has much better gross-motor skills than fine-motor and Gregg, the Executive Director, knows just how best to use those skills every week. Billy looks forward to coming to the greenhouse, has made many friends there, and enjoys the movies his paycheck buys him.
Now at 33, Billy is living in his own home and his staff is being trained to replace me. Still on Saturday morning, though. This has been slowed due to COVID-19, but is progressing and in his plan-of-care. My hope is that he will be able to continue to WGD past me.”
Gregg is a six year veteran as Executive Director of We Grow Dreams. His life’s work until joining the greenhouse was in industrial sales covering the Midwest territorty for manufacturers of engineered components. He volunteered years ago with Western DuPage Special Recreation Association as a basketball coach and loved working with the disabled population.
Every summer you can find him as the Head Coach of the Rising Stars Buddy Baseball program sponsored by Wheaton Junior Woman’s Club, where able-bodied buddies are paired with players of all abilities on the baseball field learning about baseball and friendship.
Gregg and his wife, Gail, have 3 children who actively support the greenhouse. Gail retired from WDSRA and is a greenhouse fundraiser, overseeing the annual Bowlathon.
1055 W Washington St
West Chicago, IL 60185
PO Box 861
West Chicago, IL. 60186
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Monday-Friday: 9:00 am - 5:00 pm
Saturday: 9:00 am- 4:00 pm
Sunday: 10:00 am- 4:00 pm