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 was brought on board as office manager the end of last summer and she has jumped into the greenhouse with both feet at record speed.  She and her husband bought their first home here in West Chicago this year, and she has felt 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.  She has learned lots in a very short period of time and we are THRILLED to have her here at the greenhouse.  Her smile is contagious, even behind the mask!

When she is not working, Melanie enjoys spending time in her vegetable garden, reading and enjoying snuggle sessions with their four cats and one tortoise.

 

Jossy Gabriel

Master Flower Queen

Jossy has been at the greenhouse location since before it became We Grow Dreams….formerly this site was We-Go Nursery. Her 21 years of growing plants makes her quite an expert!  She has 4 children but treats all our plants like her children too.  Annually, Jossy handles over 260,000 plants ordered through suppliers, but also propagates 3,800 plants from stock plants and grows over 23,000 plants from seeds.  Add to that over 13,500 mums and plants each fall.  So, doing math…300,300 each year times 15 years at We Grow Dreams equals a whopping 4,504,500 plants Jossy has planted!  She deserves every vacation day she gets, don’t you think?

Crys Hum

Craft Master

Crys is the creative, detail-oriented designer of our custom stepping stones, handmade greeting cards, garden decor and more.  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.  

Denys and Sheylin Barrera

Planting Season Experts

Denys and daughter, Sheylin, have helped in the greenhouse planting seasons for the past couple of 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. We love having this duo with us.

 

People

Ken Masselink

Production Manager and Student of the Greenhouse

Ken is our newest member of the team, having joined us in September.  He will eventually wear many hats as he gains more knowledge about WGD and the steps involved in researching, planning, ordering and management of the plants.  He currently splits his time with WGD and District 200 driving a school bus.

He previously was groundskeeper and flower bed grower at Wheaton College for 8 years. He is an avid seed collector since his youth and not only grows rice (no rice paddy needed), but also has over 200 types of daffodils growing on his property in Michigan!

People

Linda McConnell

Remote Plant Guru

Linda was the We Grow Dreams Production Manager for 8 years before retiring last year and relocating to Indiana to be closer to family.  But we couldn’t exactly let her just go and take all those years of experience and expertise with her, she continues to assist us in the ordering of plants and cross-training Ken.   

Linda knows more about plants that almost anyone we know and all those plants that Jossy has grown are because Linda scoured catalogs and online sites to find new and interesting plants to add to our collection each year.  She takes meticulous notes about supplies needed, growing schedules, growing locations and loves to be hands on.  We are thrilled she continues to support us!

People

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.  We value her skills and dedication to our efforts!

People

James Wilson

Head Grower and Pest Controller

James is returning to us on a part time basis to help us through the spring planting and watering season.  He previously worked with us managing watering and insect control last year too.

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.

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 has learned so much since starting and 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.