Choose Your Path with PRIDE

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For 50 years PRIDE Industries has been creating jobs for people with disabilities. However, those jobs are not always within PRIDE. Last year, PRIDE’s dedicated employment services team prepared, placed and supported 533 people with disabilities who work in the community either directly for employers, or as part of a supported employment group.  In fact, PRIDE is the largest service provider creating community employment in the state of California.

Creating Community Employment Success

Whether people with disabilities find work within PRIDE or in the community, our job skills training and supports are at the center of their success. When people with disabilities come to PRIDE, they may have worked in the community unsuccessfully, or they may not have every worked.

We begin with a personal assessment to determine what their current skill level is and understand what they believe they would like to do. It’s not quite as simple as filling in the gap between skill and aspiration, however.

Sometimes, people have difficulty envisioning their potential until they start taking small steps toward it. They may have had a negative experience working in the community, or they may not have had any experience at all. So we have to overcome negative perceptions and help people to understand what opportunities do exist. We go to work helping to educate, build hard and soft work skills, and to help people navigate workplace relationships, employer expectation, and even transportation.

But training without opportunity means disappointment in the end. That is why our job developers are working hard every day to build an expansive employer network. These are community employers who understand that the same qualities that help a person rise above their disability are the most sought after in the workplace: resilience, determination, and persistence in pursuit of a goal. We have more than 180 community employers in our network today – and the numbers keep growing.

When people are ready, they can move to community employment in a couple of different ways. They can go directly to work for an employer. We call this ‘individual placement.’ PRIDE finds the employment opportunity, places the individual in the right job, and then ensures that both the employer and their new employee receive the training they need to be successful together.

The other path benefits individuals who are ready to work in the community, but need more support. It is called ‘supported employment.’ Groups of three individuals with disabilities are supported by a job coach who works side-by-side with them to ensure that they continue to receive the training, assistance and mentoring needed to achieve their goals.

With a staff of 14 job developers closely connected to their communities and job coaches who prepare and support employees, PRIDE Industries’ community placement results defy national trends and continue to grow.

Whether an individual with a disability finds fulfillment working with PRIDE, or wants to pursue employment with a community employer, our focus is on skills development, preparation and placement according to their unique needs and dreams.

Community employment is an essential component of our mission to create jobs for people with disabilities. For more information on PRIDE’s person – centered services visit: prideindustries.com/people/people-services/individual-supported-community-employment.

 

Make a difference for individuals with disabilities:

  • Recognize and support businesses that employ individuals with disabilities.
  • Contact PRIDE Industries at info@prideindustries.com to learn how your business can employ individuals with disabilities.

Together we can change lives…one job at a time.

 

A Meaningful Alternative

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By guest blogger, Nicole Richards, rehab/marketing intern at PRIDE Industries Headquarters.

Jeanine McDonald still treasures her memories of wandering the aisles of the local Bel-Air grocery store when she was a young girl with her mother. The familiar environment, trusted quality and exceptional customer service motivated her to pursue a job as a Bel-Air courtesy clerk.

Jeanine’s epilepsy, causing spontaneous seizures, makes it difficult for her to find and keep a job. In the year 2000, Jeanine was referred to PRIDE Industries and began working with our Employment Services program to help her achieve her employment of choice.

With the help of job developer, Caryl Balko, Jeanine identified skills and abilities valued by an employer’s such as Bel-Air. “The guidance from Caryl was a huge success for me” said Jeanine, “I do not think I would’ve gotten the job without her.”

PRIDE job developers work one-on-one with individuals like Jeanine to match their abilities and interests to the requirements and needs of local employers. Caryl provided Jeanine with the training necessary to help ace her interview and land her dream job at Bel-Air.

For several years, Jeanine loved wearing her Bel-Air nametag and bagging groceries.

“I absolutely loved that job,” said Jeanine. “The people were so great to me there and I loved going to work.”  Collecting a weekly paycheck provided her with a newfound sense of purpose and accomplishment.

Bel-Air quickly realized the tremendous value that their new employee had to offer.  Mystery shoppers frequently visit businesses posing as customers to evaluate the service they receive. Jeanine was mystery shopped numerous times and always received remarkable evaluation reports, for which her store was thrilled to give her extra recognition.

Unfortunately, within recent years Jeanine’s seizures have become more severe and more frequent. They began to interfere with her work responsibilities and she no longer felt that she could meet work requirements. Although Bel-Air was willing to work with her unique circumstances, Jeanine was not comfortable providing unreliable work, so she made the difficult decision to leave her dream job.

Right away, she knew where she wanted to go. She wanted to be in a comfortable, safe environment with close friends. She also needed an employer who would understand and make accommodations for her seizures. “At PRIDE I knew exactly what to expect and I wanted to be a part of it. I feel like family here,” said Jeanine.  She has been working here at PRIDE for the past year where she still enjoys a sense of purpose and accomplishment at the end of each day without jeopardizing her safety.

Her supervisors are trained and accustomed to working with individuals with disabilities like Jeanine’s. After a seizure, Jeanine would usually be sent home for the day in community employment. However, at PRIDE she is still given the option to continue working with accommodations and modified duties, if she chooses to. This gives her the security to earn a full paycheck even as her condition progresses.

Jeanine is hopeful about her path for the future. In time, her seizures might become controllable again, and she would be welcomed back to her job at Bel-Air. However, PRIDE is honored to provide her with a meaningful alternative.

We are so proud of Jeanine for her hard work both in the community and here at PRIDE!

Labor Day 2016: Contributions by All

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Labor Day is a holiday that celebrates the social and economic accomplishments of all workers.  For 50 years, PRIDE Industries has been creating jobs for those most often excluded from employment; people with disabilities. Through our mission, we serve people with a broad range of disabilities – developmental, intellectual, physical, sensory, mental illness and more.

Our goal is to provide an opportunity to all who want to work and can contribute. Through PRIDE’s business enterprises and by partnering with others in the community, individuals with disabilities become contributing members of the community.

At PRIDE, we know that disability does not mean inability and that through employment people with disabilities gain a sense of purpose, dignity, inclusion, and lead more self-sufficient lives.

Together, we can pave the way for a Labor Day, that celebrates the contributions of all American workers – those with and without disabilities.

Happy Labor Day to all.

An Opportunity to Find Meaningful Employment

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Finding a new career after leaving the workforce due to illness or disability can often be a daunting task. Joey Guillot is a carpenter at PRIDE Industries’ contract at Fort Polk in Louisiana. After a long period of unemployment due to his disabilities, Joey found a new place and career at PRIDE. To get to this point, he worked with much determination to overcome the numerous barriers posed by his disabilities.

As a result of an unaddressed learning disability, Joey became discouraged as a young student and dropped out of high school during his freshman year. Since he had left school so early, he never received the help needed to overcome his illiteracy. Despite his lack of a high school diploma, Joey found work in the community and built a self-sufficient life.

However, later in life, Joey developed peripheral neuropathy, a nerve condition that causes weakness, numbness, and pain in the hands and feet and other parts of the body. His condition worsened to the point of almost near paralysis. Due to complications, Joey was forced to leave the workforce in 2001. After the unexpected death of his wife of 25 years, he also began to struggle with depression and alcohol abuse, and his life took a turn for the worse.

Although Joey received Social Security Disability (SSDI) benefits, he never felt as fulfilled as when he was working. As the effects of his neuropathy began to improve, Joey decided to re-enter the workforce and search for a new career. Determined to reach his goal, he applied for employment services with Louisiana Rehabilitation Services (LRS) in April 2014.

In spite of the many challenges that he faced, Joey strived to change his life Searching for a new career would not prove an easy task; a 13-year resume gap, lack of high school diploma, struggles with depression and substance abuse, and neuropathy all were great obstacles to even getting an interview. Furthermore, Joey’s illiteracy prevented him from completing a GED program or learning another trade. Joey worked closely with his LRS counselors to manage his depression and maintain sobriety. Fortunately, the search ended in 2014 when LRS referred Joey to a training program at PRIDE Industries’ contract at Ft. Polk.

PRIDE ended up being the perfect opportunity for Joey; after four weeks of on-the-job training, he was hired as a general maintenance worker in the carpentry shop. “PRIDE Industries has been a blessing to this region because they give people with disabilities an opportunity to find meaningful employment,” says LRS Counselor Don Green. “There are few employers in Beauregard and Vernon Parish (a rural area) that provide opportunities for earning good wages as well as accommodations for employees with disabilities.”

To help Joey succeed in his job, PRIDE’s rehabilitation staff provides counseling and job coaching. They have also worked with him on improving his literacy skills, and Joey is currently earning his GED. “Joey is a very hard and determined worker who does not allow his disability to hold him back from accomplishing anything he wants. He is capable of completing any task that is set in front of him,” says Rehabilitation Counselor Sonja Matthews. Joey’s hard work and perseverance impressed his supervisors; when a carpenter position became available, he applied and was hired on October 3, 2015. Joey has continued to thrive in his new role and is currently aiming to become a carpenter lead.

With support, Joey was able to turn his life around. Steady employment, and along with a supportive network which included his father, church community, and his LRS counselor, Joey has managed his depression and successfully maintained sobriety. He also recently married Mrs. Angela Pratt in October 2015 and is greatly satisfied with his new position and positive outlook on life.

 

The Power of a Support Team

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By guest blogger, Nicole Richards, marketing/rehab intern at PRIDE Industries Headquarters. 

Job hunting is a difficult process for all who attempt to conquer it. For a young, first-time job seeker it is intimidating to approach the challenge of job postings, cover letters, resumes, and interviews. For a young person with developmental disabilities like Dani Jenkins, 22, it requires even more bravery to take on such a daunting task.

Dani initially began searching for a job on her own at age 18. She interviewed at various locations but found herself discouraged, not knowing what to say or even what to wear. “It was a hard, kind of lonely time in my life,” said Dani. “I was disappointed every time I left an interview and did not get the job, and I did not know if it would ever happen for me.”

The desire to contribute to her community and become independent motivated her to keep trying, but employers were overlooking her. Dani knew she desperately needed help so that she could successfully wear a nametag and collect a paycheck.

Initially, Dani was referred to PRIDE Youth Services, a program which provides vocational training for youth with challenges and disabilities. Counselors work one-on-one with each individual making a plan to achieve their employment of choice.

“I have so many great memories of my time with Danielle, my Youth Services counselor,” says Dani. “We discussed what not to wear to an interview and how to make a good impression. I remember our meetings being a really positive experience.”

To better prepare for the next step in landing a job in the community, Dani participated in PRIDE’s Employment Services Program. “They gave me knowledge and skills that lifted my confidence,” said Dani. “I learned how to interview and be persistent, jobs search skills and most importantly, not to be down on myself.”

During this training, Dani met regularly with a PRIDE job developer to identify her abilities and learn job seeking strategies. For individuals with disabilities, Job developers are a gateway to many employment resources. This training provided Dani with the validation that she needed to present herself as a valuable asset to any employer.

Finally, her endless hours of preparation proved to be successful. Raley’s customer service team lead, Chris, had no trouble recounting Dani’s interview. “Dani got herself hired. She is awesome. She came in, and she was persistent and energetic, and she made sure she got hired,” said Chris. Dani made a great impression during the interview process. “She even wrote a nice thank you letter – it was really cool. That was the first time ever.”

Dani is going on five months of employment at Raley’s. She loves her job, especially bagging groceries. “I just love that I get to help people,” said Dani, “It makes me feel happy that someone else is enjoying their day, and when the customers come back they say they are thrilled to see a familiar face.”

To ensure that Dani continues to excel in her employment she has weekly visits with a PRIDE job coach, Julie. Julie visits Dani at Raley’s, and together they work to overcome challenges such as prioritizing tasks and time management.

Throughout Dani’s time at PRIDE, she has collected a whole team of supporters that cannot forget her outgoing personality and great desire to help others. “Without them, I do not know if I would’ve ever gotten the job because they gave me way more knowledge and confidence and they are just awesome,” said Dani. “Now I feel like I am becoming more of the adult I want to be.”

Congratulations on your employment success Dani! You earned it!PRIDE Industries_Employment Services

PRIDE Is Like Family

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Growing up in a small town in Connecticut, made Derek Ramsey, a service order dispatcher at PRIDE Industries – Los Angeles Air Force Base (LA AFB) contract, want to expand his horizons and explore the world.

This drive inspired Derek to join the US Navy as a young adult before he completed a college degree. Derek served in the Navy from 1999 – 2003 and was promoted from an E2 Seaman Apprentice to an Aviation Electrician Technician. Tours sent him twice to the Persian Gulf in 2000 – 2002. Derek was also briefly stationed in the Pacific and San Diego, CA. He retired from the military in 2002 and decided to move to Los Angeles.

Despite the skills that he learned while serving our country, Derek had difficulty finding permanent employment. Military jobs do not always translate easily to civilian work. “I have had jobs in purchasing, managing medical records, delivering mail, call center customer service – you name it, none of them worked out,” says Derek.

A factor was his diagnosis after military service of PTSD, and later Bipolar II Disorder. “My disabilities make it difficult for me to engage socially and concentrate on tasks,” Derek tells us. “I also frequently needed to take time off to go to medical appointments.” Due to lack of employer accommodations and understanding for his disabilities, Derek churned through jobs without developing a career trajectory.

Employment difficulties soon carried over into his personal life to the point where Derek found himself homeless for two years. “For a long time, I didn’t seek any help,” says Derek. Eventually, he turned to the Department of Veteran Affairs for help in finding housing. While at a doctor’s appointment, he discovered a flyer advertising for a service order dispatcher position at PRIDE Industries. He applied and was hired in early 2015.

PRIDE Industries ended up being just the opportunity that Derek needed; he recently celebrated his first year job anniversary. “This is one the longest jobs that I have ever had,” says Derek. “It was difficult, initially, being back on a military base. But I now feel comfortable working as a civilian and not as a soldier.”

The flexibility of time off for medical appointments and taking extra breaks has allowed Derek to excel in his position as a service order dispatcher. Job coaches and counselors are also available when needed to offer encouragement during challenging times. “Everyone is very supportive; PRIDE is like my family away from family,” says Derek.

Derek currently handles diverse service orders for LA AFB, including plumbing, electrical wiring, carpentry, locksmith, fire alarms, and engineering needs throughout the installation. He enjoys contributing to the running of the base. “Derek is always looking for ways to grow in his role,” says Laura Alvarez, PRIDE’s Service Order Supervisor. “He is responsible, takes great pride in his job, and is always a pleasure to work with.”

A permanent job has also helped Derek to achieve greater financial and personal stability. As a result, he has continued his education – a vital component of his career development. He recently earned a degree in Computer Networking and is now contemplating a future career in information technology.

We are proud to support veterans like Derek in employment and their career goals.

What I Can Do

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By guest blogger, Nicole Richards, rehab/marketing intern at PRIDE Industries Headquarters.

“I like children’s natural curiosity and honesty. They look beyond the wheelchair at me, Ms. Alice, as a person that can give them a ride that day. They’re not looking at what I can’t do; they’re looking at what I can do,” said Alice.

Alice Kimble is celebrating her 17th year working at Lighthouse Child Development Center. Her journey has not been easy. However, she does not allow challenges to diminish her sense of purpose, her pride and most importantly, her contagious smile.

“To me, we all have a disability, the only difference is you can physically see mine” said Alice.

Her whole life she has enjoyed working with children. Lighthouse is a daycare facility and private kindergarten for children ages 6 weeks-6 years old. Throughout the last 17 years, Alice has spent time with each age group and realized that she especially enjoys working with the older children that can ask her questions. Her favorite activity is giving rides to children on her chair, but she also spends time consoling babies, feeding children, and monitoring playtime outside.

Lighthouse provides an environment in which children develop many life skills with the support of their teachers. While children play, they also learn and often turn to their trusted teacher with their curiosities.

Alice reminisced one instance in which a 4-year-old boy became curious about why Ms. Alice doesn’t walk. She explained to him, “my muscles aren’t strong enough to help me walk, but yours are”. He shouted gladly “Yeah, mine are!” Then, he offered to trade his legs with Ms. Alice so she could walk around like him.

Alice’s employer, Sandi Ford, recognizes that Alice adds value at Lighthouse with more than just her job skills. “The children have learned respect for individuals with wheelchairs and because of Alice they have been taught to help others who are not always able to help themselves,” said Sandi Ford.

PRIDE Industries_job coachPRIDE Industries has a long history of supporting Alice in her employment at Lighthouse. Gloria, Alice’s job coach, has visited her for years. On a weekly basis, they talk about and solve any challenges she might be facing at work.

“Gloria is my sounding board” explained Alice, “and if there was a really big problem and I didn’t feel comfortable going alone to my employer saying this is what I need or this is what I would like, then I know I could call Gloria up and she’d step in and help me talk to them.”

PRIDE job coaches provide individuals with confidence in the workplace. They are a trusted ear to listen to the struggles and the successes while offering access to resources. They give support and advice on how to deal with conflicts, how to approach a manager, or maybe how to adapt certain jobs to fit within the individual’s abilities.

“So to me they’re more than just job coaches, they become your friends too,” said Alice.

Alice beautifully exemplifies PRIDE’s vision for each individual. She desires to give back to the community and fulfill a need for purpose in her life. Alice said, “I’ve always known that people are always going to have to help me, regardless of how old I am. My biggest goal in life was to really just work because I wanted to give back to society like they gave to me.”

And Ms. Alice has proven herself to be a very valuable asset inspiring others in her community. She proudly related a story about a young girl who Alice cared for during her first few years at Lighthouse. This young girl told Ms. Alice that she wanted to grow up and be a doctor so she could help Ms. Alice and others like her. All these years later, this now young woman carries with her the precious memories of her childhood inspiration as she currently studies at San Francisco State to become a medical doctor.

PRIDE is honored to celebrate Ms. Alice’s success working in the community!

Independence: An Opportunity for All

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July 4th is Independence Day – a celebration of our nation’s independence. These days, there are many discussions about what constitutes independence and success for people with disabilities. Our programs and services help promote independence and self-reliance of individuals with disabilities.

Through our mission, we serve people with a broad range of disabilities – developmental, intellectual, physical, sensory, mental illness and more. Individuals may be born with a disability or may acquire one through illness or injury – in everyday life, or in combat.

PRIDE supports many definitions of success as unique as the individuals we serve. For some, it is complete freedom from the reliance upon supports and services. For others, it is simply the opportunity to participate and contribute to their community. Meanwhile, the vehicle for accomplishing these unique goals is through employment. An opportunity. A job.

For 50 years, PRIDE’s mission has been creating jobs for people with disabilities. Through our work, we strive to provide opportunities at all skill levels to aid individuals in the achievement of their definition of independence.

Won’t you join PRIDE Industries in creating jobs for people with disabilities?

Contact PRIDE at info@prideindustries.com to learn how your business can employ individuals with disabilities.

From all of us at PRIDE, Happy Independence Day!

In Honor of Our Fallen Heroes

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“And I’m proud to be an American, where at least I know I’m free. And I won’t forget the men who died, who gave that right to me.” ~Lee Greenwood

On Monday, May 30th – Memorial Day – we pause and remember the brave women and men who have made the ultimate sacrifice while protecting our freedom.

At PRIDE Industries, we create jobs for people with disabilities. Our mission includes veterans who return with physical, emotional, and mental scars which create obstacles to employment and self-sufficiency. We also work to provide an opportunity for those who simply have difficulty rejoining the workforce. On this Memorial Day, we welcome our returning veterans and honor our fallen heroes.

Happy Memorial Day to all.

A New Perspective on Life | National Foster Care Month

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“You’re only here for a short visit. Don’t hurry, don’t worry. And be sure to smell the flowers along the way.” — Walter Hagen

As a very young girl, Melissa was exposed to violence and a hostile environment. “I started doing things that I should not have been doing,” says Melissa. “I got into the drug lifestyle,” she told us, and from there it spiraled. “My environment was pretty violent with a lot of crime.”

Melissa’s life came to a screeching halt when she violated probation and was sent to Juvenile Hall. She served seven months. Shortly after her release, she found herself there again. Facing the possibility of six years in jail and an uncertain future, Melissa agreed to enter Koinonia Home for Teens. Koinonia is the last hope for many youths before long-term incarceration. The fear of losing her freedom motivated Melissa to take action.

Koinonia is a highly structured group home that provides treatment to chemically dependent youths ages 13-18. While there, Melissa was given the opportunity to grow and develop skills which could lead to self-sufficiency upon graduation. She learned how to make healthy choices, create structure in her life, and most importantly, how to maintain sobriety. PRIDE Industries works in partnership with Koinonia to help youths get on the right track.

Making positive change is never easy, but with support and guidance, Melissa’s life did, in fact, begin to transform. “When I wanted it, I was able to take advantage of all the help that Koinonia and PRIDE Industries were giving me,” says Melissa. “I really started getting it.”

Recovery happens in phases at Koinonia. During phase two, teens are allowed to seek a job. PRIDE Industries’ Youth Services program provides job search assistance, resume development, interview preparation, counseling, paid work experience, and more. PRIDE’s paid internship are made possible by generous donations to PRIDE Industries Foundation.
Melissa was drawn to mechanical engineering. She likes to see how things come together. Her passion for this area landed her a paid internship with PRIDE’s electronics department. “I really enjoyed it,” she tells us. “So much so, that I ended up working three extra months.” Through the internship, Melissa learned the importance of quality, proper communication with management, and, most importantly, accepting constructive criticism.

In her former life, criticism would result in conflict. “Coming where I came from, criticism led to confrontation,” says Melissa. She had trouble with authority, listening, and trust. Because of the skills gained through her internship with PRIDE, and the structure provided at Koinonia, Melissa is now able to take advice with grace and poise. “Be open to constructive criticism without taking offense,” Melissa recommends. “It is meant to help, not to hurt me.”

The transformation was arduous; there were many good and bad days along the way. But she did not give up. Melissa graduated the recovery program and earned a high school diploma. Today, she is living independently, has a job in the community, and is looking forward to a brighter future. “I feel pretty excited,” says Melissa. “It is a big accomplishment for me because I never thought I would make it to age 18 much less get a high school diploma.” Looking back at her accomplishments still feels a little surreal: “I was shocked. I am alive, healthy, and I have been sober for almost two years. It is pretty crazy.”

Though the voyage was difficult, Melissa explains: “I had to stop because I was going too fast in life; growing up way too quickly. I never stopped to smell the flowers. Finally, when those flowers were out of reach, I realized that I needed to stop before I never got the chance again.”

As she reflects on the past, she has a new appreciation for her journey. Though she once thought probation and the loss of freedom were horrible, she is now grateful for the intervention. When asked what helped her get through the dark days and tough times, she replies: “My freedom is something that always made me want to live.”

Nowadays, she enjoys the simple things such as sitting on the couch, painting, drawing and listening to music – something she longed for while behind bars in juvenile hall. These days, she can relax without the weight of the world on her shoulders. Melissa recalls being under so much stress she had to be reminded to breathe. “I would stress out so much, I felt like a fifty-year-old,” she tells us. “It was because of my lifestyle.” In contrast: “now, I feel my age, which is pretty amazing.”

Melissa has completely turned her life around and is focusing on the future. She has big plans. “I want to be a firefighter or a mechanical engineer,” she says. “If not, I will join the military and get into the Marines.” With a new perspective on life, these professions provide the physical activity and structure she enjoys and a way to give back to her community. “I feel that would help me give back for my past mistakes.”

We at PRIDE Industries are proud to help individuals like Melissa prepare for their future lives – and we wish her the very best!