Meet the young men be­hind Jobs by Ja­cobs


Style Magazine - - Contents - BY LEANDRI VAN STADEN

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.


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