When John Brewer was approached about providing employment opportunities for disadvantaged jobseekers at his Kurri Kurri café, he didn’t hesitate to say yes.
After all, he knows what it’s like to be dealt a tough hand.
Mr Brewer lost his son Phillip to cancer in 2014, and then his wife Debbie succumbed to a brain tumour in February this year.
After his wife’s passing, Mr Brewer decided he couldn’t “just sit around”.
With several years’ experience in the hospitality industry, including running a catering business and a coffee van, he decided to open a café with the help of his daughter, Tamara Tuttlebee.
Brewer’s Beanz opened in Kingsway Plaza in March.
Soon after, Advanced Personnel Management (APM) employment consultant Belinda Metcalfe stopped in at the café to see if they could provide work for some of her clients.
“We opened the café to give people work – we want to give back to the community,” Mr Brewer said.
“They are wonderful workers, we have a great team.”
The three women employed through APM – Terri, Ann and Lisa – had all been out of work for about two years, and say they are extremely happy to be back in the workforce.
“These people are the best bosses in the world,” Lisa said.
“It’s a joy to come to work.”
APM finds suitable, sustainable employment for people with diagnosed disability, illness, injury or barrier to work. It also provides assessment services, health care services and injury management.
Ms Metcalfe said the partnership with Brewer’s Beanz is going very well.
She said her clients were relishing the opportunity to contribute to the workforce.
“It gives them independence, satisfaction and a feeling of appreciation, in a supportive environment,” she said.
Ms Tuttlebee said she and her father believe everyone deserves a chance.
“We want them to be as happy as we are,” she said.
While Mr Brewer has had his own health issues recently, the happiness of his staff and great work environment keep him thinking positively.
“Some days you feel like crying, but you keep going,” he said.
“The girls enjoy working here, so that’s a blessing.”