Lismore woman Sharon Hammond and Local Area Coordinator, Trudy Collins.
Lismore woman Sharon Hammond and Local Area Coordinator, Trudy Collins.

Woman celebrates employment after a life of volunteering

LISMORE woman Sharon Hammond thought she might never gain paid employment, after working in volunteer roles all her life.

Sharon, 43, has an intellectual disability and has been receiving NDIS supports to help her with speech therapy and social and community participation.

It wasn't until she met her Local Area Coordinator, Trudy Collins, who completed her second NDIS plan that her life really began to change.

Through the support Trudy organised, Sharon met Nat Byron from Nat's Coffee in Alstonville, a multi award-winning wholesale coffee roasting business with a small on-site café attached. Nat knew exactly what to expect from working with someone with an intellectual disability, as his own mother had lived with an intellectual disability resulting from a traumatic brain injury.

Sharon's NDIS capacity building funding allowed for on-site support during a three-week work experience program. She was trained in how to use the iPad cash register, service customers and take orders, along with cleaning and food preparation.

Sharon was given barista training and encouraged to practice this skill by making coffees for herself, her support coordinator and other staff.

Straight after the three-week work experience program, Sharon was offered employment and became a valued member of the Nat's Coffee team.

Today, as COVID-19 impacts are felt globally, Nat's Café has been closed and his retail business is limping.

"We've lost more than 80 per cent of our retail coffee business as most of the places we supplied coffee to, were cafes and restaurants which are now shut" Nat said.

"I don't have words for it. We are trying to protect our staff and keep things afloat so that there is a business to come back to and employ people once again, after this is over."

While the café will remain closed, Nat intends to offer Sharon employment within the wholesale section to work with ordering and packaging, and he is currently investigating ways to modify this side of the business to run online.

For the time being, Sharon still has a job with Nat's Coffee and only time will tell what happens in the future.

When asked how she feels about her job, Sharon simply says "good", but from the look on her face, you can see it means the world.

Nat's Coffee is taking orders from the general public for coffee.

Email sales@natscoffeeco.com.au or visit http://natscoffeeco.com.au.



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