When Tim Cologon arrives for work with the Independent team, it’s already an awesome day. According to Tim, it’s triple-A awesome.
August 6 was definitely a day to remember, as staff gathered to wish Tim a happy birthday and give their most valued co-worker a few surprises along the way, including a ride in a Ferarri, and of course there was a chocolate cake that his mum made to share with everyone.
Tim’s boss Gary Butcher said employing Tim was one of the best decisions they have made.
“Tim comes to work happy every day and it just rubs off on people,” Gary said.
“For Tim, it’s just unbridled happiness and I think this is what we miss in the business world. It just reminds us what it’s all about.”
Tim lives with down syndrome and through the Independent Foundation’s partnership with the ACT Down Syndrome Association, has been working at Independent for 12 months, with August 6 also being Tim’s first work anniversary.
Tim says he loves keeping the office running and having a bit of time to stop and chat with the 170 employees in the building, who always enjoy seeing Tim in his daily travels.
“Gary is awesome and is a really awesome mentor,” says Tim. “He gets me to do emails, filing, archiving and scanning. I keep the coffee machine full and photocopier working.”
Gary says Tim does it all without having to ask.
“We feel we got it right when we offered Tim the job and I think it’s worked well for everyone concerned.”
Independent became involved in 2012 when the ACT Down Syndrome Association had its funding cut and faced the prospect of closing the doors.
Independent stepped in as an annual sponsor and soon got to know the people involved.
“It was just a natural progression that we started conversations about employment, and given our experience, I’d recommend it to anyone,” Gary says.
“It’s incredibly rewarding and it’s also wonderful to see what it actually does mean to Tim.”
Tim had to go through a full interview process with 13 others but stood out with his natural confidence.
“It’s been a little bit groundbreaking for us,” says Gary. “We had to ensure we could keep Tim occupied and that’s no longer the issue.
“He can do anything I throw at him and he’s on to it straight away.”
Tim’s mother Barb Cologon said even when Tim was asked to come on a cruise to Hobart earlier this year, he declined because he didn’t want to miss anything at work.
“Working here has improved Tim’s confidence so much. His ability and self-esteem have grown and he’s so much happier as a person outside of work and inside as well,” Barb said.
Tim can be found dancing on the balcony during his lunch break on most days. He has been dancing for more than 10 years and says he was “a bit nervous” at first, but he has since performed at a gala night and now loves it.
The same can be said for Tim’s love of his job.
“When I first started here, I was quite nervous and I wasn’t always sure what to do, but I grew really quickly here and I just love this job. It’s like having a second family.”