Meet the young men behind Jobs by Jacobs
MEET THE GUYS PUTTING THE ‘JACOBS’ IN JOBS BY JACOBS
This is not a story about overcoming challenges. It’s a story about independence, community spirit, and giving it a go.
This is a story about two young men who have touched the lives of many and, in return, have reaped the benefits of a community network in full swing.
I’m talking, of course, about Jacob Reed and Jacob Beck of Jobs by Jacobs; the handyman business specialising in tasks their clients don’t have time for, or cannot do themselves. The 20-year-old Reed has Down syndrome and Beck has autism, but more fool you if you underestimate them. The guys are high school friends and their relationship is a comfortable one. Reed is the joker of the team, while Beck brings a light touch of seriousness to the conversation. They’re the perfect match. I asked whether the guys have nicknames to distinguish one Jacob from the other in conversation. “Yeah, his name is Reed, but I call him Reedy. It’s just easier,” Beck said, adding that he himself does not have a nickname. The Jacobs do everything from watering the garden, trimming hedges, mowing the lawn and pulling weeds, to washing windows and collecting mail. “Another thing we do, is we walk dogs. Right now we’re walking a dog named Thadd. He and his owner live in Wilsonton. He’s a light brown dog, but I’m just not sure which breed,” Beck said. “He’s a big dog. He’s very strong,” Reed added with a smile. Tim Littlejohn is the team’s support worker. He is a warm, welcoming man who has a special camaraderie with the Jacobs and has shared in the joys of their progress.
At the start, the business consisted of just Jacob Reed, with Tim in tow. “We started about 18 months ago, doing maybe one job a month,” Tim said.
Jacob Beck joined the business earlier this year with the same goal as his partner, which is to gain independence — and they are progressing towards that goal every day.
“Their planning and organisation is getting better,” said Jacob Beck’s mother, Karen.
“My plan is to look after myself and to get away from Mum and Dad,” Reed joked.
Beck explained that he joined the business because he needed a job. “Jacob’s NDIS goal is to get a part-time job and this is the kind of work he’s after,” Karen added.
At the moment, the guys are doing quite a handful of jobs a week, with about two or three of those done without Tim’s supervision and support.
Some of the jobs the guys currently do themselves, include walking Thadd, checking on plants and collecting mail.
A big factor contributing to their independence and ability to do these jobs themselves, is the fact that Beck passed his driving test and now has a licence.
“I was really excited to get my licence. I can drive us to places where we have
to work, so we can do jobs by ourselves,” he happily shared.
Tim said walking Thadd is a big effort from the guys. “It’s over at Wilsonton at a particularly busy time and Jacob is a new driver. It’s a big step for him to drive them from here to there,” he explained.
Beck has to plan his route, thinking about factors like the time of day, the number of cars on the road, whether schoolkids will be out and about, and so on.
Karen said this development is like a dream come true. “You can’t measure that,” she said.
The guys each have jobs they prefer over others — Reed said he likes watering gardens the most and Beck favours weeding — but nothing beats looking after Humphrey.
“The boys had two or three weeks of looking after a puppy every day. This thing was so damn cute, they loved it,” Tim said.
The guys have quite a lot of regular customers at the moment and would like to keep expanding their business.
With their new-found freedom through Beck’s licence, I wanted to know what the guys do for fun. “Some days we go bowling,” Beck said.
I asked whether they sometimes go out for a Coke, just to get out of the house. “Yeah, we do. All the time,” Reed said with a laugh.
“It’s really good to see them have a life away from parents,” Karen said.
The guys regularly run into their clients, who are eager to strike up a conversation with them and ask how they’re doing. “They’re little celebrities up at the Middle Ridge bakery,” Tim said, laughing.
“Those connections are everything. Before they were doing this, they were much more isolated. Every time they get out and do a new job, that’s a new connection and a new part of their network,” Janet said.
“Their skill sets – language, communication, and networking – keep building,” Karen added.
“It’s just been overwhelming for the boys and myself in terms of how many jobs we’ve got. Just the support of local businesses has been simply awesome,” Tim said.
With a handful of supportive people in your life, you can pursue any goal and succeed. But, with the support of a community, you can move mountains.
As if to affirm this thought, Jobs by Jacobs won the Innovation and Access Award at the Business DISABILITY Awards in Toowoomba on September 13 this year.
The award recognised their outstanding achievement and creativity in pursuing new ways to increase awareness of inclusive practices in a work, training or volunteer space.
According to Tim, securing the services of Jobs by Jacobs is a two-way street. Once a client has contacted Tim directly, or through their Facebook page, he and the guys will arrange a visit to the home or business where their services are needed.
“We have to make sure they’re the right fit for us and we’re the right fit for them, and whether the boys are capable of doing the job,” Tim explained.
YOU CAN REACH THE TEAM ON THEIR FACEBOOK PAGE BY SEARCHING ‘JOBS BY JACOBS’, OR BY CALLING TIM ON 0458 005 513.