By Lori Pometo
Point Park News Service
Ciera Onley had a dream to pay her mother’s mortgage.
Jessica Connor had a dream to raise money for her employer, the Pittsburgh Film Office.
They both discovered Dream Cream Ice Cream, a twist on a traditional ice cream shop. Dream Cream not only serves up refreshing sweet treats, but provides individuals and organizations a realistic and fun way to financially reach their dreams.
“I wanted to earn a living helping people and now I know every day I’m doing that. I haven’t been in a position that made me feel that way—ever,” co-founder Thomas Jamison said.
Jamison and co-founder Alecia Shipman, both from the Pittsburgh area, had a dream to not only serve great ice cream, but to help their fellow Pittsburghers achieve their dreams.
Every month people and organizations can apply to become Dreamers. A Dreamer then works volunteer shifts to promote their selected flavor. Twenty five percent of the proceeds of every sale go toward the Dreamers fundraising goal.
Ciera Onley, a junior at Point Park University, was inspired to apply to Dream Cream after visiting the shop for the first time.
“It sounded really cool and I wanted to apply. At the time I didn’t even have a dream, but I just wanted to work at an ice cream shop,” Onley said.
Onley didn’t want to be selfish so she decided that funding her dream trip to Africa wasn’t going to cut it.
“The only person I could think of that needed any financial help was my mom. She puts me through private school and I may as well do something nice for her,” said Onley. “It hits a soft spot.”
Onley’s mom was all business when she told her the good news. She was worried that her daughter would work too many hours, be too tired for school, or if it was safe to walk around downtown at night when her shift was over.
“My mom is one of those people who wants to do for me. She doesn’t like me being pulled away from school,” Onley said.
Onley even had her own Scooping Party; an event dedicated solely to one Dreamer, called, “The BIG Payback” where her flavor, Mint Ting a Ling was the featured and highest selling flavor of the night.
“This one guy he comes in with his daughter and he gets a triple of mint every day I swear, and she gets vanilla with rainbow sprinkles. He‘s like ‘You noticed I got mint and I’m like yeah I know, you’re my buddy. I love you man,” Onley said.
Jamison stresses the importance of being there in person to share your dream with anyone and everyone who comes in to the store.
“In many cases, the connection that people have made with the customers just by sharing their dream has been just as valuable if not more than the money they raise,” Jamison said.
Jessica Connor, the Assistant Director of the Pittsburgh Film Office applied to Dream Cream after reading about the shop in different newspaper articles and seeing it on the news.
”This was an opportunity to raise money for our general fund for things like new computers and soft wear like Photoshop and other office needs,” said Connor in a phone interview.
The Pittsburgh Film Office has a big, annual fundraiser in February called the ‘Lights! Glamour! Action! Oscar Gala’ to help them raise a majority of funds, but Dream Cream offered an easier and more convenient route to raise some money on a smaller scale.
The Pittsburgh Film Office is a non-profit organization that helps matriculate movies into the Pittsburgh area, such as the newly released “Perks of Being a Wildflower” and “Won’t Back Down”. They deal with all of the economic needs of putting a film in motion.
“It was kind of like a modern day bake sale,” Connor said. “I’ve worked at the Film Office for 12 years but I’d never worked at an ice cream shop. It was fun.”
Connor, along with a handful of co-workers and interns, took turns filling the volunteer shifts.
“We used it as a big social media outlet and would tweet when we were there. We’re fortunate at the Film Office because we had a lot of supporters—the crew, extras, a lot of people came down to help us out,” she said.
Jamison and Shipman’s vision is a simple one with a simple blueprint for those who apply.
“We ask that people come from a very pure place in the heart with what they’re asking for and that usually it is something that is classified as a need like ‘my car broke down and I’m trying to drive my daughter and I to my husband’s army base’ which was a young woman’s dream in the first month,” Jamison said. “We can’t help somebody to get a BMW or a jaguar.”
Depending on foot traffic and commitment from the individual or organization, Dreamers can hope to profit anywhere from $500 to $1,000 during their month.
Social media is something that Dream Cream creators are really focusing on now that the store is up and running. They believe that the most successful dreamers not only “campaign for themselves” but have a support system of people willing to either come in and volunteer a shift for them, buy their flavor or just get the word out on social media sites like Facebook or Twitter causing a “domino effect,” said Jamison.
“We also have a campaign on Twitter where you can name a flavor combination and become a ‘Dream Cream Celebrity’. If somebody buys a double of two flavors combined and if we haven’t already come up with a name for it then we allow you to create that name,” Jamison said. “You have to tweet at @DCICDreamTeam and hash tag whatever you’re naming. For example, red velvet and banana cream pie is ‘The Iron Man’.”
According to their website, Dream Cream has raised more than $13,000 for its Dreamers since opening in June. For $5 and under, customers can get their favorite flavor of ice cream and help pay-it-forward for somebody else.
While Onley didn’t reach her intended $500 goal, she says it doesn’t matter.
“I’ll still give the check to my mom. Every bit helps. I want her to put it toward the mortgage, but even if she uses it for groceries or anything else would be great.”
Dream Cream Ice Cream is located on Liberty Avenue across the street from the Fairm