The other day, I met a PRIDE Industries staff member named Laurel. Laurel works in our Integrated Facilities Services (IFS) division. As part of the IFS team, she helps create jobs for people with disabilities in a variety of capacities, including custodial, facilities maintenance, landscaping and grounds maintenance, food services, administrative services, transportation, and more.

Laurel’s connection to PRIDE is deeply personal – she has a son with autism.

Laurel recently joined the board of the UC Davis MIND Institute to help make the world a better place for her son and other people with autism. The MIND Institute is a collaborative international research center committed to advancing the awareness, understanding, prevention, care, and cure of neurodevelopmental disorders, including autism.

In Laurel’s words:

“My recent nomination to the UC Davis MIND Institute Board, on behalf of PRIDE Industries, is not only an honor, but is also near and dear to my heart.  After working for PRIDE for nearly 10 years, I decided to start a family and made the tough decision to stay home with the baby.   Little did I know that my time at PRIDE had prepared me for the journey I was about to embark upon, as I soon found out my son was Autistic.

I am now back, working for PRIDE again and, after nearly 6 ½ years of learning to navigate my way through the unique world as seen through the eyes of my son, I am so compassionate about helping to solve the mystery of Autism and to make the world a better place for my son and other autistic children.”

What struck me in meeting Laurel is how suddenly disability can turn someone’s world upside down. I was also reminded how remarkably resilient people can be when faced with the challenge of disability. And I was reminded that children like Laurel’s grow up to be adults who have skills and talents to contribute to the world.

And that’s what makes me excited to come to work each day. I want to make sure that when children like Laurel’s grow up, they have an opportunity to put their skills and talents to work in meaningful employment.

Laurel is just one of the many incredible people working at PRIDE. I look forward to meeting more of them, and sharing their stories with you.

Until next time,


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