By Guest Blogger, Kovit Markklam, Quality Control & Safety Inspector, Naval Base Ventura County, Port Hueneme
Kovit’s team members rave about him. “Exudes a level of professionalism, positivity, and approachability.” “Kovit is not afraid to address sensitive, important issues at the site to facilitate awareness and change.” “ Kovit is a major player in the overall health and well-being of the site he supports.”
He offered to tell us a little about his journey to PRIDE. We share it here:
“I am a Navy (Seabees) veteran; I gave 20 years of service. When I was in active duty; PRIDE Industries used to clean our office and shops at Port Hueneme in Southern California. I remember saying, “thank you” to one of the custodians, but I did not get a response – only a smile. At the time, I did not know PRIDE was a company that creates jobs and hires people with disabilities. Later, I discovered that PRIDE had hearing-impaired employee, among others. I thought that was unique and cool.
I was born in Korat, Thailand and raised in the U.S. since the age of about five. When I was very young, we lived in Thailand and we were very poor. It was the way of life there and I did not know any better. Then we move to the States and I grew up as a military brat (Air Force). Life was better here.
In the States, I was fortunate to have teachers and friends who helped us. As a kid, I noticed children with special needs were often bullied and they could not speak up for themselves. I have a younger brother with a learning disability. So I stood up for him and them.
In my late 20’s, I visited my grandmother in Thailand for the first time. I was shocked to see her living conditions. I was heartbroken to see her living in a shack by the railroad track. She had no running water, electricity, stove, or bathroom, and the roof was made of scrap lumber and tin. Unfortunately, she died two weeks after I left. I didn’t know she was living like that. I’ve felt guilty ever since.
That is how I got into working with communities and giving back as much as I can. It makes me feel good to make others feel good. During my last five years of my Navy career, I was stationed on an island called Diego Garcia south of the equator in the central Indian Ocean. I was the Leading Petty Officer for all the First Class Petty Officers and I was part of the Quality of Life Committee. We would try to make life better for everyone who worked and lived on the island.
In the Navy, we did many community projects, such as rebuilding schools, providing showers to the homeless, and more. I wanted to give back, so I volunteered my time for food drives, Habitat for Humanity, and the Boy Scouts of America. I even received the “Military Outstanding Volunteer Service Medal.”
When I finished my Navy career and heard there was an opening at PRIDE, I jumped at the chance to work for this company. For the last three years, I have been a Quality Control & Safety Inspector on PRIDE Industries’ contract at Naval Base Ventura.
I have always been a people person, even though I did not start out like that. I was a shy kid. People motivate me. Quality of life is very important to me, and I want to assist in any way I can. Everyone has the right to feel wanted, to belong, and to be treated equally. I want to help others so that they can help themselves, and in return, maybe pay it forward to someone else. I don’t know if I have made much change since I’ve been at PRIDE, but I do hope to make an impact on someone’s life here – even if it’s a small impact.”
Individuals like Kovit who dedicate themselves to others make an impact on all of us. We are glad that he has found a place with PRIDE.