With community’s support, coffee shop owner can reopen, continue her battle with cancer

Published 9:31 pm Monday, October 30, 2023

By Brandy Centolanza

Contributing writer

The community is rallying around a beloved Carrollton coffee shop owner in need of assistance as she undergoes treatment for breast cancer.

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Chemerre Wells, owner of 54 Beans Espresso Bar & Café located at 13478 Carrollton Blvd., was first diagnosed with the disease in 2022 after discovering a lump in her breast. Medical expenses forced her to close her business on Thursday, Oct. 5. 

When news of the closure spread, friends and patrons of the shop started a Go Fund Me page to help with the financial strain. 

The initial goal was to raise $5,000, but $7,000 was raised within the first 24 hours. As of Oct. 19, donors contributed $8,700 toward a new goal of $18,000.

In a telephone interview, Wells said she teared up when she heard the news of the efforts to help her out.

“I didn’t think people cared,” she said. “I am at a loss for words. I am just so grateful for all the support.”

Growing up in the military and settling in the Smithfield area when she was in high school, Wells said she always knew she wanted to own her own restaurant. 

She opened up 54 Beans in the middle of the pandemic in 2021. Since then, it grew into a community gathering place, with people meeting there for bible study groups, book clubs, study groups, meetings and other occasions, or to simply unwind with friends over a cup of joe.

“That’s the kind of place I wanted this to be, a place where people feel comfortable and welcomed,” she said. 

Wells, a married mother of two, continued to work at the café when she could in between medical appointments, chemotherapy and a mastectomy. She finished radiation this past spring and has two more surgeries scheduled for later this year. 

“I didn’t mind coming in and working, doing what I love because it was a nice distraction and took my mind off of what was going on,” she said.

Loyal friends and customers contributed to the Go Fund Me campaign to help cover medical expenses and pay rent to reopen her business. 

Eyvondra DeBerry, one of the fundraiser’s organizers, is as pleasantly surprised as Wells is at the generosity of community members.

“It is heartening to see how people can come together to support someone in their hour of need,”DeBerry said. “It exemplifies the best of human nature and the incredible capacity of a community to uplift one of its own. Not only has this story united people around a shared cause, but it has also offered a profound message of hope to anyone battling breast cancer or facing adversity. It shows that even in the face of the most challenging circumstances, there is a wellspring of support and love that can lift us all up.”

Extending her thanks to the campaign, Wells said she plans to reopen 54 Beans at the beginning of November.

“This is just awesome,” she said. “I was not expecting everyone to be so kind.”