Living with cancer and undergoing treatment, 64-year-old Glenn Russo has faced more than the usual challenges when looking for work as a mature Australian.
Like many people whose lives have been affected by cancer, he navigates life including specialist appointments, treatment and the effects of each on his energy levels, endurance and emotions.
In 2020 Glenn [pictured right] joined MAX Employment in Innisfail after having had a disappointing experience with another service provider.
“They never rang to see how I was going. I was in deep depression, worried about everything. A friend suggested I should go to MAX and they’ve been absolutely wonderful,” says Glenn.
Glenn found his MAX team, including Tanya [pictured left] would check in on him regularly. “They’d give me a call every week to check on me. They’d never miss,” he says.
Glenn had spent time working for Q-Link Freight & Transport, as a fleet coordinator for QR National (now Aurizon) and driving a container gantry for Queensland Rail.
His professional work experience combined with his personal passion for rebuilding cars and learning new skills when tackling handyman projects meant Glenn had a fantastic array of skills to offer a potential employer.
“I’ve been a bit of a handyman all my life. I like to learn how to do things myself – work my way around things. Monkey-see-monkey-do kind of thing,” says Glenn.
Local business owner and mechanic Anthony heard about Glenn and recognised both his skills and his physical limitations due to his health. He was willing to give the man an opportunity.
Glenn worked for Anthony for over a year. From stripping and rebuilding an old Hilux, to building fences and fixing doorways, cleaning equipment and clearing out workspaces – whatever Anthony needed, Glenn did it.
In return, the employer provided exactly the kind of support and flexibility that Glenn needs. He worked his hours around his treatment and specialist appointments and Anthony’s support didn't waver.
“I went through a bad stage of depression a while back. I was worried about how my cancer treatment went,” shares Glenn.
“I ended up owing Anthony hours, but he was supportive. I made the time up once I was feeling better,” he says.
For over a year Glenn counted his stable employment at the local business among the positives in his life.
The MAX team continued to support Glenn in work, from providing protective workwear to ongoing emotional support.
And his need for support increased again recently when business at the mechanic slowed down forcing Anthony to reduce Glenn’s hours.
“It was an unfortunate situation forced by COVID,” shares Tanya.
Needing more hours, the team were on the hunt again for an employer who would value all that Glenn has to offer, while providing the flexibility he needs to manage his health.
“A role came up at a local caravan supplier. Glenn is now working for them as a handyman and loving it,” she shares.
“They are positive flexible employers and it’s the perfect industry to get into with the current COVID situation affecting North Queensland, and travellers passing by the busy highway location,” she shares.
As he reflects on his journey, Glenn shares:
“It makes it a lot easier to fight the cancer when I know I have a supportive employer and a job I enjoy going to.”
“They are the most wonderful bunch of people in there at MAX,” he shares.
Congratulations Glenn. We all wish you the very best with your health and know your handyman skills will benefit your employer long into the future.
In 2021 MAX conducted research into the challenges faced by mature age Australians looking for work and the value that workers like Glenn offer to employers.
Image: MAX Consultant Tanya and Glenn