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The Villager cafe staff Jason Liddiard, left, Kelly Cochran, and Kiva Clearwater celebrate with Alex who holds his new Playstation. PHOTO: SUPPLIED

Thames cafe makes Alex’s ‘dream come true’

A four-month stint volunteering at a local cafe has helped Thames man Alex Makinson achieve his dream of owning a Playstation 5.
Alex, who has Asperger’s syndrome, a form of Autism Spectrum Disorder, approached The Villager owner Jason Liddiard late last year seeking employment.
With no full-time roles available at the Mary St cafe at the time, Jason took Alex on board as a volunteer, using a “points system” as an act of payment.
“His dream was [to buy] a PS5, and he had no way of achieving that dream, but we made it come true,” Jason told The Profile.
“He persevered, and he had times when he had to push through. It taught him a lot about striving to achieve a goal.”
Alex helped out at the cafe over the busy summer period – from November 1 to March 31 – and his jobs included running errands around town, getting supplies from the supermarket, bringing coffee and food to customers, doing the dishes, and welcoming patrons at the door.
“Alex can stack the fridge faster and better than I can,” Jason said with a laugh.
He was rewarded with a Playstation 5 donated by the cafe earlier this month.
“He was very ecstatic and very grateful. He couldn’t believe he had done it. Now we’re like his second family.”
Jason is now going the extra mile and is eager to find the perfect next job for Alex – who he described as “super punctual and polite” and a “joy to be around”.
“What I want to do for Alex is find the perfect job for him, because that’s what he came to me for, and he knows he needs a job to afford the things in life he dreams about,” he said.
“There’s got to be a business out there that would love to have someone like Alex on board. He’s got the attitude that every Kiwi business owner wants in an employee – happy and grateful to have a job, and to be part of a team.”
Jason, who has bipolar disorder, said his motive for helping Alex stemmed from his own mental health journey and the lack of available services within Aotearoa.
“My ‘why’ comes from my frustration at New Zealand’s mental health system… it’s in an absolutely atrocious state,” he said. “I know how hard it is.
“My own personal journey to get myself well and get to a point of being a person who can own and manage a cafe has been difficult, and I know that if I didn’t have all the little people helping me along the way, I never would’ve got there.”
DETAILS: If you think you have a job that could be perfect for Alex, contact Jason at: