Jaime and Abbey Dean are fighting for the rights of military veterans and their weapon of choice is a camouflaged coffee truck.
The Wexford-based mother-daughter team roll through the region selling hot and cold drinks out of a customized Dodge Sprinter. Their mission is to bridge the military-civilian gap by educating the public and connecting vets with support services.
“What’s often not looked at is the responsibility of society to better understand a military member’s experience and the struggles they face when they come back,” says Jaime Dean, whose son, Jarrett Dean, served as an Army drone pilot in Iraq and Afghanistan.
By the Wayside — which is a reference to where enlisted men and women brew cups of joe during breaks in fighting — buys its supplies from veteran-owned roasters and donates 10 percent of its earnings to five, non-profit partners: Community Care for Military, Fleece Connection, Operation Strong Mind, Outdoor Immersion and Yellow Ribbon Girls.
Jaime Dean, who helped run several military-based ministries out of Memorial Park Church in Allison Park, decided to take her work on the road in 2017. Ditching a traditional brick-and-mortar store, she says, helps her reach more people.
The Deans officially hit the highway on March 31, stopping at local parks and businesses along the way. Active-military members receive free regular coffees or 50-percent off specialty drinks such lattes and smoothies.
While they occasionally serve snacks, the pair hope to add a grill and deep fryer to their arsenal in the near future. Their other goal is to expand the fleet to three trucks, one of which will be given to a veteran to own and operate.
The Deans believe it’s the least they can do for a small population that’s done so much for the country.
For more information about By The Wayside, visit www.bythewaysidecoffee.com.
Kristy Locklin is a Tribune-Review contributor.
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