Meet Michael – the jobseeker 

Michael Dodds serves up a hot chocolate at Claire Ross’s Coffee Cart beside the town square on Friday morning.

Michael Dodds would love to work in hospitality and is hoping a Waipā employer has a part-time job to make his dream come true.

The 20-year-old enjoys working with people and is passionate about food and cooking.

“I’d love to work in a cafe,” said Michael.  “That’s my dream job.”

His other top choice would be flipping burgers and helping customers at McDonald’s Cambridge.  He has a special connection to the Queen St restaurant, having cut the ribbon when it opened here in 2014.

To achieve his dream Michael, who has Down syndrome, has been working with disability employment facilitator Selwyn Cook, who was Kiwibank New Zealand Local Hero of the Year in 2016 for his efforts to help disabled people into mainstream jobs.

Selwyn believes Michael has all the right ingredients for a successful career in hospitality.

“Michael is fabulous,” he said.  “He has a delightful, easy-going manner, a great sense of humour and impeccable manners.  He loves to have fun and be funny, which he does, in his own words, through ‘the happy, friendly and fabulous me!’  So, we’re hoping a local employer will have a position that would fit his skill set and his natural ability to delight people.”

Getting a taste of those abilities last Friday was Claire Ross, who gave Michael a morning of work experience in her Coffee Cart.

“Michael’s been so cool,” she said.  “He’s a quick learner for sure and he has an amazing personality.  He’s bubbly and chirpy; I love that.  And the customers seem to love him.”

The morning was organised by Maioro Barton, a tūhono connector with Enabling Good Lives.

“I think Michael’s a real people person,” Maioro said.  “He’s a really good communicator, he’s very empathetic, he’s a good listener, he follows instructions and he’s willing to learn.  I hope employers will look at his potential rather than looking at him as someone with a disability.”

Michael has lived in Cambridge all his life and attended Cambridge Primary School, Cambridge Middle School and Cambridge High School.

He has been volunteering at Waipā disability enterprise Achievement House for two years, but now feels ready for paid work.

“There’s a line I say: more work, more money,” he said.  “I’m saving up my money because on my next birthday I’d love to go to Las Vegas.”

His mother Victoria said her son, like many 20-year-olds, wanted to get a job, travel, go flatting and find a girlfriend.

“I think it’s just being part of the community really and just doing what everyone else does – he’s craving that normality,” she said.

“I think once employers meet him and have a conversation with him it’ll open their eyes to his potential.”

Michael is passionate about music and in his spare time he loves creating Spotify playlists, writing and performing his own songs and MCing Star Jam events.  He also enjoys watching wrestling on television, cooking and competing in Special Olympics football.

If you can offer Michael work or would like to meet him, please call Selwyn on 027 480 4569 or email Selwyn@covina.co.nz.

“I can offer ongoing support to any business to ensure Michael’s employment is an outstanding success,” Selwyn said.

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