This is Melvin’s story…in his own words. Melvin is a veteran, and an employee of PRIDE Industries. Though qualified to live on disability benefits , Melvin chose the path of employment. With that choice, he found something of greater value. Melvin found his dignity again, at PRIDE.
“Before coming to PRIDE, I was a troubled individual, going from job to job. It was only after attending a rehab program, did I finally get diagnosed correctly with my disability. I had been suffering for years but did not know what was wrong. I could not understand why I had nightmares, extreme fatigue, would lash out at people, experienced a lot of self-doubt, and low self-esteem. I never reached the point of wanting to take my life, although there were a few times that I came pretty close.
At one time I was homeless, and ended up at the US Vets Village of Cabrillo a facility for homeless/unemployed Vets. It was while I was at the US Vets, that I enrolled in their vocational rehab program. PRIDE came to the site to recruit for positions they had for a new contract at the LA Air Force Base. I interviewed and was successful in getting the position of custodian at their Fort MacArthur site. I had heard that they work with people like me with disabilities and was eager to hear what they had to offer. Now, about the same time I learned that I was eligible for a Vets program, due to my service-connected disability. This program was set up where I did not have to work and I could receive pay every month, as well as some back pay. I made the choice to accept PRIDE’s offer to work. I felt I wanted to be a productive person and that PRIDE would afford me that opportunity.
In fact I had not fully completed my VIP program requirements at the US VETS, but I convinced my case manager that I was ready to get out there and work again. After coming to PRIDE, in three short months, and working very hard, the Project Manager approached me and said that they noticed how I am able to fix things and seem to go the extra mile on my work tasks. Not too long after, I was promoted to General Maintenance Worker. There is not a day that goes by that I don’t thank God for leading me to PRIDE and for the opportunity it has and continues to give me.
I have been able to move out of the Village, and now have my own place. PRIDE allows me time to see my doctors on a regular basis, without the fear of being penalized. I have also acquired some additional work skills and now I am looking to go to back to school to enhance my skills even more. I am just so thankful that PRIDE gave me a shot, close to 5 years ago, come January 2012, I can hardly believe it, but I will then be eligible for 3 weeks of vacation.
I don’t doubt for one minute if it were not for the support system that PRIDE has in place, which includes support from my co-workers, supervisor and counselor, I would not be in the position I now hold today. Whenever I go back to the US Vets to visit, folks stop me and say what a change they see, and many of the guys voice to me that they hope that they also one day can get a job with PRIDE. I am so proud, I got my dignity back! THANKS PRIDE.”