Disability does not discriminate; it can affect anyone at any time through illness or injury. Overcoming initial, everyday challenges is just the beginning of life with a disability.
Diana Leal is a shipping clerk at PRIDE Industries headquarters in Roseville, CA. Two decades ago, Diana suffered what her doctor referred to as a “baby aneurism” – a small, broken blood vessel in her brain, after the early onset of menopause.
In Diana’s family, most females experience an early onset of menopause; something they attribute to their rare blood type. Typically, women go through menopause in their late 40’s or 50’s. Diana experienced it in her early 30’s and dealt with life-changing side effects. She suffered a number of medical complications that resulted in her unemployment from 1994 to 2006. She sought vocational and physical rehabilitation to help her overcome the new challenges.
“My brain did not function like it had in the past,” says Diana. She also experienced temporary vision loss and had difficulty focusing on tasks. “I couldn’t think like myself.”
Still, Diana was motivated to heal and return to the working world. “I always said that I would get well and go back to work.” Although it was an arduous time for Diana, she worked tirelessly to overcome challenges by focusing on her goal of regained self-sufficiency. As a single mother of three, she knew her family was counting on her. “It took a long time for my brain to heal and to be able to focus on tasks.”
In 2006, Diana connected with PRIDE Industries. She began as a materials handler providing support at PRIDE’s warehouse in Roseville. Her outstanding work ethic, dedication, and diligence earned Diana a promotion.
As a shipping clerk, Diana finds the most cost-effective and expedient solution to customers’ logistics needs. On a daily basis, Diana processes hundreds of orders for the most efficient delivery. It can be a demanding task requiring focus and multitasking, but for Diana it has become almost second nature. “Diana is one of the most accurate shippers in the department,” says Francisco Espinoza, Diana’s supervisor. “I have yet to see her make a mistake.”
For Diana, working at PRIDE Industries means much more than a paycheck. “I see people with disability challenges, and I know what it’s like to be on that side,” says Diana. More than 2,800 individuals with disabilities work at PRIDE Industries; Diana can relate to them on a very personal level.
Diana talked to us about the importance of a second chance in life; feeling good about oneself; the ability to succeed and carry on with life; and the significance of fitting into the working world. “Pride, self-esteem and a feeling of accomplishment – this is what PRIDE Industries has given to me,” says Diana. “I love this company, and I am going to stay for the next 12 year until retirement.”
Individuals like Diana remind us that life can change in the blink of an eye and that people have the power to control their destiny when given support and opportunity. “Never give up. Never lose faith in yourself,” Diana says. “For anyone who has dealt with a serious medical complication – never lose faith, because it can be turned around.”