Every week for 50 years Chris Fry and his brother John have made the trip from home to Endeavour Foundation’s Toowoomba site, clocked on and started work.
Finding employment can be extremely challenging for people with intellectual disability but in Toowoomba hundreds of people like Chris and John have found meaningful employment thanks to Endeavour Foundation Industries.
Endeavour Foundation opened its Toowoomba site on May 20, 1968, with supported employees cultivating plants and making outdoor furniture to be sold locally, beautifying the gardens and homes of residents living in “the Garden City”.
The new business created not just meaningful employment opportunities and training for people with a disability, but also the self-esteem and confidence that comes from having a job. Talented employees have turned their hand to many different business opportunities, either manufacturing or packaging a wide variety of products in Toowoomba.
“We’re so proud of our hard-working team and the variety of work they’ve done over the years,” said General Manager, Tony Vidler, “We currently employ 133 supported employees and 10 staff members so we bring a huge benefit to the local economy too.
“We’ve built lawn furniture, had the plant nursery, cut rags and packaged food and spices - at one point we were the biggest packer of coconut in Queensland.
“Now we offer the most secure document destruction service money can buy and we’re making high quality beef jerky as well as still doing the food packaging and other things.
“People think they know what Endeavour Foundation does but I can tell you they’re constantly surprised when they find out the sheer variety of things the dedicated team can do and the quality of the product they put out.”
Fifty years on from when he first started work, 68-year-old Chris Fry said he’s not looking to retire just yet.
“I’d just be sitting at home, looking at grey walls if I didn’t come to work,” said Mr Fry, “I’ve liked doing all the jobs I’ve done and I like seeing my mates at work every day.
“I don’t know when I’ll retire yet but when I do, I’ll spend more time with family.”