A Goal in Mind…


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


When Matthew Parker graduated high school he did as many grads do, and dreamed of what his future career path would look like. He had goals and ambitions; knowing that eventually he wanted to work with animals in the community. However, he felt like he was below sea level, staring up at very high mountains between him and his dream.

An intimidated, young Matthew with Asperger Syndrome—now known as Autism Spectrum Disorder—and Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder (ADHD) started volunteering, hoping that it would turn into employment. “My very first working job was over at Atria. They had me clean dishes, but they decided not to hire me because I was having a hard time multi-tasking, communicating and adapting to changes,” remembered Matthew, “I really struggled quite a bit when I was younger.”

Matthew remained determined to succeed as he found employment at PRIDE Industries. In a specialized environment for individuals with disabilities, Matthew found supports that he never had before. He practiced basic soft skills necessary for employment, such as good hygiene. “They designed a worksheet for me with visual hints so I could get better about having cleaner hands and less germs,” said Matthew.

A case manager at PRIDE saw immense potential within Matthew. “I quickly realized that Matthew was so capable,” said Dawn Horwath. “We could give him any task and he could do it.”

PRIDE tapped into many resources throughout the years to prove to the community what a capable employee he is. He participated in multiple PRIDE operated External Situational Assessments (ESA)—trial community jobs to assess workers’ capabilities. In 2005 he completed Personal Vocational and Social Adjustment (PVSA) services—person-centered training to overcome barriers including communication, assertiveness, anger management, etc. “It was amazing to see such incredible growth and determination in Matthew with each step,” said Dawn, “It has been a long journey, but we never gave up on him.”

As someone who previously needed repeated patterns and routine, he was finally adapting to a variety of job responsibilities and conquering barriers one by one. “I used to have a hard time when things changed all of a sudden,” Matthew reminisced, “but now I have learned how to handle it and I am much more flexible.”

A speech and language counselor, Dyann Castro-Wehr, partnered with PRIDE to help Matthew overcome communication barriers. “Dyann has been great at helping me,” said Matthew, “sometimes I would tell her about a situation and she could figure out a little trick to help me overcome it.” Dyann created an anger meter for Matthew to become aware of his feelings and express himself in the best way possible.

Each day of Matthew’s journey at PRIDE was a stepping stone to his employment in the community. Community employment brought new successes and new disappointments, but now he’s applying his communication and problem solving skills—something that has been beneficial in many facets of his life, especially as he adjusts to newly married life.

Matthew has been successfully working in the kitchen at Cascades of Grass Valley, a retirement community, for a year and a half. PRIDE Employment Services still work with him to ensure his success continues. “It makes me feel so relieved” Matthew said about his PRIDE job coach meetings, “because I have a much better support system than I did when I first started out.” Together Matthew and his job coach have weekly discussions to work out any difficulties he might have at work.

As Matthew reflected back on how far he’s come, he proudly said, “I feel pretty good about myself. I have a great life going for me right now, but I definitely have a goal in mind so I’m going to keep working hard to get there.”

Congratulations Matthew on conquering one more stepping stone. You’re on your way to your dream job!

Inclusion Works: National Disability Employment Awareness Month

October is National Disability Employment Awareness Month (NDEAM). The month-long celebration is themed “Inclusion Works” and places a spotlight on the contributions made by workers with disabilities and educates the public on the value of a diverse workforce.

For 50 years, PRIDE Industries has created jobs for people with disabilities while championing inclusion and a diverse workforce. At PRIDE, we know that inclusion does work and has transformed its mission into countless daily success stories.

Often, with accommodations at work, whether to their workspace, schedule or with the help of assistive technologies, many individuals with disabilities can become or remain gainfully employed. In most cases, hiring people with disabilities is no different than hiring any other job candidate.

By partnering with PRIDE Industries, businesses can leverage its person-centered services including assessments, job skills development, training, placement, transportation, and on-going support to ensure long-term employment success. PRIDE places people in its own business lines and provides support to more than 500 individuals annually in community-based opportunities.

Following are a few examples of individuals with disabilities who found employment success with a little help from PRIDE:


Making positive change is never easy, but with support and guidance, Melissa’s life transformed and she is now living a life she never thought possible.

More about Melissa’s journey, click here.



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

Through PRIDE’s job coaching services, Alice is celebrating 17 years of working in the community. For more on Alice’s story, click here.


pride-industries-_-d-ramsey-_-los-angeles-afbAs a retired veteran, Derek struggled with applying his former skill-set to the civilian workforce.

Through PRIDE Derek found a new career while continuing to serve his military family. More on Derek’s journey, click here.



Job hunting is a difficult process. For a young, first-time job seeker with disabilities, the process can be even more daunting.

Through participation in PRIDE programs and services, Dani is on her way to the future she imagined, “Now I feel like I am becoming more of the adult I want to be.”

For more on Dani’s journey, click here.


Are you interested in hiring employees with disabilities in your business? Speak to our expert staff by contacting us at info@prideindustries.com.


Choose Your Path with PRIDE


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

PRIDE Industries_JeanineM

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

USA flag in a sunset, labor day

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

PRIDE Industries _ Joey

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

PRIDE Industries_Dani

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

PRIDE Industries _ D Ramsey _ Los Angeles AFB

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

PRIDE Industries_MsAlice

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

American flag outdoors in a meadow on july 4th.

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!