Staff Members

All of our staff work hard every day to provide products and services to the community while staying focused on our ever present mission to create a caring and supportive environment to our team members.

Melanie Grotto

Office Manager, Phone Answerer, Bill Payer, Organizer and Class Instructor

Melanie is our office manager extraordinaire, handling wholesale and retail sales, plant ordering, project management for team members, bill payer, payroll manager….you name it, she does it!  It’s hard to remember what we were like before she walked in looking for a job.   She and her husband, Scott, bought their first home here in West Chicago, and she was drawn to the greenhouse and its mission since the first time they drove by.  Nothing seems to phase Melanie, whether it is phones ringing, customers waiting or deliveries requiring attention. Her smile is contagious and her desire to help others speaks to what we are trying to achieve here at the greenhouse.

Melanie also felt the greenhouse needed some resident cats, so after several attempts we now have Basil and Rue roaming the grounds, keeping the rodent population under control while basking in the sunshine among the plants.  

When she is not working, Melanie enjoys spending time in her vegetable garden, volunteering with Badgerland Reptile Rescue out of Kenosha, reading and enjoying snuggle sessions with their four cats,  numerous frogs and lizards (some fosters, but some fully adopted) and one very special tortoise.

 

Jossy Gabriel

Flower Queen

Jossy has been at the greenhouse location since before it became We Grow Dreams….formerly this site was We-Go Nursery. She loves what she does here and it shows.  Our plants are nurtured by her and she is vigilant about which plants which need what….more water here, less sunshine here.  Her 25+ years of growing plants makes her quite an expert!  She has 4 children and one very special grandson, but she treats all our plants like her children too.  

Annually, Jossy handles over 265,400 plants ordered through suppliers, but also propagates 3,800 plants from stock plants and grows almost 24,000 plants from seeds.  Add to that over 13,500 mums and plants each fall.  So, doing math…300,300 each year times 18 years at We Grow Dreams equals a whopping 5,405,500 plants Jossy has planted!  She deserves every vacation day she gets, don’t you think?

Laura Parra-Duran

Planting Machine

Laura has been with the greenhouse for years and simply puts her head down and plants and waters for hours on end.  She knows everything about everything and is the second hand to Jossy both during the spring and fall, planting flowers, herbs and veggies day in and day out.  

Her extra super skill is building the tabletop reindeer for Christmas, which are time consuming and tedious and she just chats and builds without stopping. We value her skills and dedication to our efforts!

Crys Hum

Craft Guru

Crys is the creative, detail-oriented designer of our custom stepping stones, handmade greeting cards, garden decor and more.  Her attention to detail on personalized stepping stones is outstanding.  You can often find her up to her elbows in concrete, or else moving plants into retail, working the register or out and about the property.  

Crys and her husband, Ben, are critical to the ongoing operations at the greenhouse.  Ben serves on the board, and son Eric, is the chief assistant on the craft items.  The Hum Family was one of the founding families of WGD and continues to serve our mission with dedication and passion.  

People

James Wilson

Project Manager and Pest Controller

James has been with the greenhouse for more than 4 years, and has grown in skills and leadership ability with our team members.  He is responsible for assorted greenhouse projects ranging from moving pots and plants to pest control to mum field preparations, and more.  Now that he has a few years under his belt, he can recognize when something needs attention and will take charge to get it fixed.

When not at WGD, you can find him at Jewel or at the Wheaton HomeGoods store…working 3 jobs is a lot to manage but James enjoys being busy until he can join some friends for weekend get-aways.

Denys Barrera

Planting Season Expert

Denys has helped in the greenhouse planting seasons for the past several years and we would be lost without them.  When we have to plant over 300,000 plants, it takes lots of hands and hours and hours of time.  Most of our plant plugs come 288 to a tray which have to be disassembled and planted into larger pots for retail and wholesale.  Although we only have Denys with us during prime planting seasons, we appreciate her speed and thoroughness in making sure each plant is handled properly to maximize its happiness!

 

People

Laz Cuatzo

Project Assistant

Laz came to us many years ago through the transition program at West Chicago High School and stayed on at the greenhouse when he graduated out of the program.  He lives in West Chicago and has become an integral part of the staff, doing everything from assembling trays with empty pots, filling pots with soil, moving trays to greenhouses, moving benches all over the property, weeding and general “whatever needs to be done.”

He tends to always be smiling and willing to do whatever tasks are needed, including assisting with deliveries to wholesale customers and fall mum fundraiser sponsors.  You do have to be careful if you take him for breakfast or lunch on one of those runs….he can eat everything on the menu in record time.  But he needs all that food to sustain his energy levels!  

When he isn’t at the greenhouse, Laz can be found at the Cinemark Theaters in Warrenville.

 

People

Alex Flodstrom

Project Assistant

Alex is one of the longest employed staff, having started as a team member when the greenhouse first started.  He loves to be at the greenhouse and enjoys almost any task, but especially working the soil machine in the soil house.  He knows the nuances of the ancient filling machine and just how to get the soil flowing.    He is willing to do anything you ask, and doesn’t mind getting dirty.  

He is also a delivery expert, along with Laz, in loading the box truck with plants, baskets, mums and whatever else needs to go someplace other than on property.  He enjoys the field trips and is always willing to come in extra early or stay late, to build up that paycheck!

 

Katie McKellar

Project Assistant

Katie started at WGD over 4 years ago and has come such a far way in her leadership skills.  She is a great help to us with almost any project we have, and is usually the only girl amongst the fellas, so she typically is in charge, or tries to be!  She is very detail oriented and an expert geranium dead-header when she isn’t helping move plants from the back into retail benches.  She is part of the team that works almost year-round now, having started as a once-a-week team member through her school.  Nothing seems to phase Katie, and she is willing to do whatever she is assigned.

Our greenhouse cats love when Katie is working because she always makes a point of finding them to bestow some loving pets and treats.  Sometimes we have to remind her to get back on task because she would be content sitting with the cats her entire shift…can’t say we blame her.

 

Madeline Trail

Project Assistant

Maddy first started coming to the greenhouse with her brother, Matthew, as his job coach and general moral support, but as Matthew moved on, Maddy has stayed and we are so glad she did!  Her quiet demeanor is a fooler…she is always ready to do whatever is needed and needs little guidance but just puts her head down and finishes the job.  

When she’s not at our place, you can find her at Blackberry Farms during their open seasons, or at home working in their family garden.  She loves cats, so Basil and Rue always receive some loving pats when Maddy is here.  

Ryan Zima

Project Assistant

Ryan started with WGD through the Wheaton-Warrenville District 200 Transition Program several years ago and has stayed on as a valued staff member.  Sometimes his enthusiasm just makes you laugh, although he can get a bit distracted in the process!  He loves to move extra trays and pots to the storage bins in the back of the property as well as practically any other task needing attention.  Assembling trays and filling pots are just one of the tasks he likes to do, as well as loading the trailers and setting up the greenhouses to be ready for planting.  

He can be counted on to add some extra hours when needed so he can connect with the rest of the group in moving, hauling and playing in the dirt.

Gregg Bettcher

Guy in Charge

Gregg has been the Executive Director of We Grow Dreams since 2015 after being ‘retired’ for about a year and needing something to do.  He has always had a passion for working with individuals with disabilities as well as gardening, so when the opportunity came up, he jumped on the wagon.  He  thoroughly enjoys working with the team members, staff and volunteers, but can’t wait for customers to walk in the doors to learn about why they came and what they need.

When not at the greenhouse, he enjoys a daily viewing of Jeopardy, connecting with his three kids and significant others and asking wife, Gail, for the latest updates on twin grandbabies born in July 2023 in Kalispell, Montana.

 

1055 W Washington St

West Chicago, IL  60185

 

Mailing:

PO Box 861

West Chicago, IL. 60186

Office:  630/293-0100

Fax:  630/293-0100

[email protected]

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May Hours:

Monday - Friday:  9:00 am - 5:00 pm

Saturday:  9:00 am - 4:00 pm

Sunday:  10:00 am - 3:00 pm