'Everyone deserves a chance': Team honoured by accolade
ONE of the first things Dimitrios 'Jimmy' Tzatzalos tells you when he meets you is that he looks after a garden and lights at Mantra Club Croc.
The popular resort and bistro has been working with IDEAL Placements for the past few months - a not-for-profit community organisation that helps people with disabilities gain employment.
It's the unwavering support and belief in Jimmy that has led to Mantra Club Croc being awarded IDEAL Placements' Employer of the Year award.
General manager Andrew Slavin said while the win was unexpected, it was an honour.
Mr Slavin said there was a job for just about everybody - you just had to find something that worked for everyone.
"We've got four staff members we employ with disabilities through different groups, and each individual has their strengths,” he said.
IDEAL Placements has offices throughout the Whitsundays and Mackay, and job co-ordinator Shannon Reynolds said the biggest misconception when it came to employing someone with a disability was that they weren't up for the job.
"We recognise it can take a lot for an employer to take the time to work with someone who has a disability, and we're grateful for the support and patience that Mantra Club Croc have shown,” Ms Reynolds said.
"Everyone deserves a chance. I don't think it's fair to put a line in the sand to make someone different to someone else because they have a disability - we're all equal.”
Jimmy goes to Mantra Club Croc with his support worker every day to do his work.
Mr Slavin said guests said it was "awesome” to see the diversity in the workplace, and Jimmy did a stellar job of looking after the garden.
Ms Reynolds said IDEAL Placements worked with people facing all kinds of disabilities, including those with autism, Asperger's syndrome, physical disabilities, anxiety and depression.
Mr Slavin said there were a lot of people in the community you would never know struggled, and he found that generally, people wanted to work, and it made such a difference to their overall wellbeing.
"For Jimmy, he feels so important working here, and he's been gifted his own garden,” he said.
"It's the small gestures that make a huge difference ... and for Jimmy, the pride he takes in looking after his garden and his lights has been life-changing, Ms Reynolds said.