Tanya shines in her dream job

Tanya beams with pride as her colleague attaches a little pin to her apron. All the staff at Brooks & Stain café wear a special pin on their shift. Tanya usually chooses the flamingo but today she has chosen an icy pole and a flower.

Working at this beautiful Wilston café is a dream come true for Tanya, 31, a long-time client at Centacare HAND Social and Life Skills Hub. She talked about it constantly with her support worker Courtney.

“Tanya and I worked for months to find somewhere that she could lend her skills as a volunteer,” said Courtney.

“We did up her resume and sent heaps of letters to nearby businesses. I know that being part of the community in a meaningful way is important to Tanya.”

Brooks & Stain owners Bis and Steven invited Tanya to help them out in the café for an hour every Tuesday morning. They have taken her under their wing, showing her the ropes and working closely with Courtney to make sure Tanya feels comfortable and is able to thrive in an unfamiliar environment with new challenges.

“She is absolutely delightful,” says Bis of Tanya, who has been part of the team for three months now. “She puts a smile on people’s faces. All our regular customers know her and will ask me how she’s going. They just love her.”

Today the café is buzzing with activity and Tanya follows the routine she has come to know, delivering orders to tables and clearing plates. She notices a family walk in and shows them to a nearby table. She seats them and heads over to the counter to get them some menus. Courtney is present at the café for each of Tanya’s shifts and notes that Tanya is showing more initiative.

“Tanya can be shy around people she doesn’t know but as her confidence grows, she finds her voice and her winning personality emerges,” said Courtney.

“I like talking to Valerie,” says Tanya, speaking fondly of one of the café’s regular customers. She has a little chat with a lady at a nearby table, pats all the dogs that come in and when she finishes her shift she gives Bis a big hug.

Tanya works hard to develop the skills she needs for her job. Walking from the Hub to the café, Tanya and Courtney go over the things she will focus on during her shift. They debrief on the walk back to the Hub and, in her 1:1 support sessions, they play number games to help her operate the point-of-sale system. “She’s getting a lot better on the register,” said Courtney. “She knows how to ring up a hot chocolate!”

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