Realising a Dream - Tim's Story

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

While Tim was tidying up his office, he came across an article written about him 7 years ago when he was unemployed and looking for work.

“I thought, you know what? Those guys were awesome, I’d better give them a call to tell them what I’ve done,” he said.

So he picked up the phone and called Champions.

“Champions really helped me to feel good about myself.  Every time I went into the office I was unemployed and didn’t really feel comfortable about who I was. My morale was always down,” he said.

Speaking with Tim today, it’s evident that his morale is anywhere but down.  Tim is confident, and was excited to talk about his most recent success, starting a Calgary daycare with his wife from the ground up.  A project which began as a pipe-dream and through hard-work, smart decisions and a few detours too, became a reality.

Tim is legally blind and has 20/200 vision in one eye and 20-180 vision in the other.  His low vision means that he cannot drive and over his career he has self-accommodated, by always choosing jobs on the transit line and which don’t require visually demanding tasks.
Before coming to Champions, Tim did not disclose his disability, preferring to make adjustments for himself and only disclosing when absolutely necessary.

“[Not disclosing] was hard because sometimes I’d feel like an idiot, and I’d think that I couldn’t do things right. People would catch me once in a while and ask me what was wrong and I’d find ways to brush it off.”

After taking workshops with Champions, Tim learnt how to disclose and made the choice to talk about his disability right up front during the interview.  He says that this was the most positive thing he gained from Champions.

In the end, Champions helped Tim find a job at the Calgary Drop-In Centre’s Woodworking division, a position he held until he was laid off.  But all that time, Tim and his wife had other, bigger plans.

Their goal was to own and run their own business.  So over a few years, Tim and his wife took steps which gave them the skills and knowledge to make this a reality.  Tim completed business and entrepreneurial courses, finishing with distinction and his wife worked at various daycares, learning the ropes and gaining valuable experience.

When the time was right, they began working on their project and organised everything from gutting and re-building the inside of the daycare, to fundraising and government paperwork and permits.   Today they have been operating for over a year and have 17 staff and 68 children at the daycare.

“From day one, I was right in there, changing diapers, doing the paperwork, accounting and playing with the kids. I love the kids, I love business management, I love working hard and making a difference.” He says with enthusiasm.

His advice for other job seekers with disabilities?

“Surround yourself with positive people, not negative people who will bring you down. Work hard and prove you can do it,” he says.

This is also advice that he will pass onto his son who has microtia, which means that his outer ear is not properly formed and he has to wear a hearing aid.  Tim says, “He’s going to have his struggles, but my message to him is that you’re built this way for a reason, you don’t know what it is, but it’ll make you stronger. “


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