Dreamers savor Downtown Pittsburgh ice cream shop’s charity
Thanks to the community’s big heart and sweet tooth, Garbie Dukes will fly to Japan the day after Christmas to propose to his girlfriend.
Dukes, 33, of the North Side is one of about 60 beneficiaries of Dream Cream Ice Cream, a Downtown shop that helps to fulfill the dreams of Pittsburghers and nonprofit groups.
The business dedicates 25 percent of the proceeds from special flavors to an individual or nonprofit group.
“If you can take a customer and convert them into a philanthropist, chances are they’ll keep coming back,” said Thomas Jamison, 28, of Lawrenceville, Dream Cream co-founder and self-proclaimed “Chief Cone.”
Dukes was serving in the Marines in Okinawa when he met his girlfriend, Kozue Kadekari, on the beach. He said he has kissed her once — on the forehead — and has not seen her in person in 12 years. They visit online via Skype two to three times a day.
Dream Cream gave Dukes about $900 toward his $1,400 airline ticket to Okinawa.
“This just helped me to realize that there are good people that are out there helping me,” he said.
Jamison’s own dream was to break into the recording industry. He was not brave enough to sing publicly.
He grew up in the Hill District, the oldest of three children born to Roberta and Thomas Jamison Sr. He graduated from Schenley High School and attended California University of Pennsylvania.
Jamison worked for five years for PNC, then looked for a product to sell that would combine his business skills with a desire to help people. He remembered an ex-girlfriend would encourage him to go to a convenience store in the middle of the night to buy ice cream.
“It doesn’t matter if you’re black or white, 2 or 92, it’s just a product that has withstood the test of time, and every demographic likes it,” he said.
In 2011, Jamison competed for a grant from Project Popup, a Pittsburgh Downtown Partnership and city initiative to fill vacant storefronts. He won $10,000 and six months to a year of free space for his business on Liberty Avenue.
“We love the idea of (Dream Cream) giving back to a goal or cause,” said Leigh White, spokeswoman for the Downtown Partnership. “It’s definitely something that’s unique.”
The store sells about 24 flavors from among 100 choices of premium ice cream such as Red Velvet and Super Hero, a blend of cherry bubble gum, lemon and blue raspberry ice cream. A five-member panel chooses the dreams to support. In exchange, the “dreamers” generally agree to scoop ice cream in the store 12 hours a week for a month.
Justine Duquette, 23, of Lawrenceville recently worked in the store to fulfill her obligation. She wants to open a business that does social media and design work for nonprofits and cause-related businesses.
“His big thing is he wants to make a business giving back, and that’s what I’m trying to do — marry what I love to do and helping others,” she said.
Another dreamer wanted to establish a pastry shop. Jamison sells some of her concoctions in the ice cream store.
Dream Cream usually helps more than one dreamer at a time, but when business lags in the winter, the money goes to one cause. This month, it’s the Children’s Hospital Foundation. The shop is closed for Christmas until Dec. 31.
Bill Zlatos is a Trib Total Media staff writer. Reach him at 412-320-7828 or email@example.com.