Developmental Disabilities Awareness Month

March is developmental disabilities awareness month image

Developmental disabilities can cause challenges in physical movement, learning, language and behavior. These disabilities are often diagnosed in early development and typically impact day-to-day activities and last throughout a person’s lifetime.


Who Is Affected

Developmental disabilities are found among all ages, genders, ethnicities and socioeconomic levels. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), in the United States about 15 percent of children between the ages of 3 – 17 years old have one or more developmental disabilities. Developmental disabilities include attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder, autism spectrum disorder, cerebral palsy, fetal alcohol spectrum disorders, fragile x syndrome, hearing loss and intellectual disability. For information and resources, click here.


Living with a Developmental Disability

Individuals with developmental disabilities lead full active lives. Access to support services aid in the success and self-sufficiency of persons with disabilities. For more than 50 years, PRIDE Industries has created opportunities for those often excluded from the labor force – people with disabilities. Instead of disability – we see unique abilities.

Through assessments, career planning, training, placement, on-the-job support, follow-up, and case management provided by PRIDE, individuals with disabilities become contributing community members. More than 3,200 individuals with developmental, and other disabilities work at PRIDE. More than 500 individuals with disabilities have also been placed in community employment.


Help Others

We can all play a role in helping individuals with developmental and other disabilities join the workforce. Through employment, people with disabilities gain a sense of purpose, dignity, inclusion, and lead more self-sufficient lives.

How can you help? Consider ways in which opportunities can be created in your business or organization. Not sure how? Contact us. We’d be happy to help! Send an email to: info@prideindustries.com.


Focus on Abilities: Macular Degeneration and the Workplace

pride industries employee at fort bliss going up ladder, HVAC tech

In the U.S., more than 7 million Americans are affected by a visual disability, including more than 600,000 in Texas. As a result of developing Macular Degeneration, Michael Prieto became one of these individuals.  The disease first caused vision loss in his right eye in 2003, following with the left in 2011.

Macular Degeneration is a condition that causes the center of the retina (the macula) to deteriorate. This area of the eye is responsible for the central vision needed for reading, driving, recognizing colors and other daily life activities. Macular Degeneration is the leading cause of vision loss, affecting more than 10 million Americans – more than cataracts and glaucoma combined. At present, there is no cure and is considered an incurable eye disease.

Because of his disability, Michael became unemployed. He did the best he could to handle his vision loss and continued to look for employment. Despite his efforts to continue life as a productive member of society, his eyesight increasingly became a concern and an obstacle to employment.

During interviews, Michael would do his best to hide and never mentioned his disability for fear of not being hired. Eventually, he landed a position with a heating and air conditioning company at Fort Bliss. In 2012, Michael was hired by PRIDE Industries as a general maintenance worker at PRIDE’s Fort Bliss contract in Texas where PRIDE provides base-wide facilities support to the Army installation.

“For the first time, I did not have to hide my disability,” says Michael. “I also received additional tools from PRIDE’s Assistive Technology resources.”

To help him succeed on the job, PRIDE provided Michael with an oversize cell phone, a Ruby Handheld Magnifier and access to other assistive devices as needed. As a general maintenance worker, Michael helps maintain HVAC (heating, ventilation and air conditioning) units throughout Fort Bliss. Michael along with his team, provide thermal comfort and acceptable indoor air quality for the more than 8,000 individuals on the base.

individual with visual disability using a Ruby MagnifierIt is the smallest things on the job that create obstacles for Michael, such as reading small text. Fortunately, the Ruby Magnifier allows Michael to amplify any tiny impediments. Learn more about PRIDE’s Assistive Tech. program, click here.

Since 1966, PRIDE has provided support services and opportunities for those most often excluded from employment: people with disabilities like Michael. “PRIDE has given me a second chance to continue my job skills due to my eyesight disability.”

 

To learn more about Macular Degeneration, view the video below:

An Opportunity for Advancement

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Alberto has everything going for him, he is smart, motivated, a hard worker with an upbeat attitude and a remarkably talented artist. After moving to the U.S. when he was nine, Alberto completed high school and earned his bachelor’s degree in liberal arts from the University of Texas at El Paso. His college degree and incredible talent were not enough to overcome the career obstacles caused by his disability – Alberto was born deaf.

Most people do not know that being deaf makes writing difficult. English is a listening-based language that is constructed quite differently than visually based American Sign Language (ASL). People who cannot hear English – no matter how intelligent they are – have a hard time passing written tests without assistance. All graduate schools and professional certifications require applicants to pass complex written tests.

Unable to find a job that matched his skills and education, Alberto was referred to the PRIDE Industries’ newest program offering – PRIDE Ascend in El Paso, TX. PRIDE Ascend enables people with disabilities to gain technical skills and attain industry-based certifications to help meet the growing demand for skilled labor. To learn more about PRIDE Ascend, click here.

True to his nature, Alberto excelled, this time earning a National Center for Construction Education and Research (NCCER) certificate in carpentry. After graduation, Alberto applied to a job at PRIDE’s Fort Bliss contract in Texas where PRIDE provides base-wide facilities support to the Army installation.

Alberto was hired as a maintenance trades helper in the carpentry shop at Fort Bliss. This new position allows Alberto to use his new certification while applying his creative talents in a job he truly enjoys. “Working at PRIDE has helped me mentally and physically,” says Alberto. “I am happy to have something positive to focus on.”

Working at PRIDE has improved his confidence, self-esteem and has helped Alberto to be more self-sufficient. Most importantly, he is optimistic about the future. “I am excited about the experience I am gaining and the opportunity for advancement,” says Alberto. At PRIDE, he receives job skills development and accommodations, along with the support of his fellow PRIDE colleagues. “I look forward to the opportunity to showcase my skills and I feel motivated to come to work every day.”

Outside of work, Alberto is a talented artist with more than 25 years of experience, visit his online gallery, click here.

Individuals like Alberto remind us that we all have the ability to take control of our destiny despite the challenges we may face. “Never limit yourself to the expectations of others, always chase your own dreams,” says Alberto.

Worth The Effort

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It takes more than a diagnosis of Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) to keep someone like Sam Azevedo down. When Sam was referred to PRIDE Industries’ Modesto, Ca., office, it was clear that he was determined to get a job. He worked with his job coach and, instead of applying for one job every day as another motivated job seeker might do, Sam applied for five jobs a day and as many as 40 in a week.

Sam’s determination and his upbeat attitude made the PRIDE staff work even harder to help him find that job. But it was not easy. Sam is high-skilled, but he has a hard time with social cues and interactions, which made interviewing difficult. It took several months of diligent searching and interviewing before he landed a position as a courtesy clerk at Grocery Outlet.

The job has turned out to be worth the effort and wait. Grocery Outlet is a family-owned store that carries that sense of family to its employees and customers. After almost a year on the job, Sam still loves his work. “It really means a lot to have a job because I am on a regular schedule and making money with consistent hours,” says Sam.

pride-industries-sam02The store’s loyal following of regular customers all know Sam by name, and many make a point of saying “hello” when they come in to shop. Owners Roger and Heidi Custer also have high praise for Sam and his work ethic. “Sam is delightful and an important part of our family,” says Roger. “And he’s an asset to our staff.”

People like Sam touch our lives as do many of the employees of PRIDE Industries. It’s a privilege to know and share their journeys.

Keep up the great work Sam!

A Positive Attitude

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Kindness and a positive attitude can go a long way to brighten up a work environment. Anthony Williams, a custodian at PRIDE Industries’ DLI (Defense Languages Institute) contract in Monterey, Ca., consistently applies this attitude every day to his job. So much so that he has received several comments from customers, including most recently:

“I would like to voice my appreciation for a job well done by your organization.

It is always a pleasure to write a letter about an exceptional employee. Please extend my sincere gratitude to Anthony Smith. He is very punctual, professional and polite. His work is always excellent and my working space always looks great. I just wanted to make sure you know how much he is valued and appreciated. He is very courteous and is an asset to your organization. Mr. Smith keeps a very positive attitude. He is always very determined to do a stellar job when he comes to our office, and his attitude brightens up our office.”

Thank you, Lindsey N.

Like many other individuals with a disability, Anthony needed an opportunity to showcase his abilities. Anthony has dyslexia, a learning disability that affects reading, writing, spelling and even speaking. Millions of Americans have dyslexia, but it is still often misunderstood. For those who have it, words often look foreign, creating challenges for routine tasks.  “It has always taken me a lot longer to read and write,” says Anthony. “Filling out job applications and going through interview process always proved to be intimidating tasks.”

Before coming to PRIDE, Anthony worked in the hospitality industry. After being laid off, his wife recommended that apply for a position at PRIDE. In 2010 he was hired. Six years at PRIDE has built Anthony’s confidence, and he has thrived. “PRIDE’s mission has truly helped me feel comfortable in my job,” says Anthony. “My coworkers all support each other. My supervisor Rita has been wonderful to work with, she has been exceptionally supportive and understanding.”

The Defense Language Institute (DLI) is a United States Department of Defense (DoD) educational and research institution consisting of two separate entities which provide linguistic and cultural instruction to the Department of Defense and international guests. In his position, Anthony supports both our military and diplomatic allies. “The military does so much for us, and I am proud to contribute to their well-being,” says Anthony. “I love working with people from all around the world, all walks of life.”

“I take a lot of pride in my job, and it has helped me grow as a person,” says Anthony.

His passion is his family – he aims to purchase a home and send his children to college. “I love coming in every day and look forward to my future with this company.”

Thank you Anthony for all of your hard work and dedication!

Top 10 of 2016

Happy New Year!

We value and appreciate those who visit, share, and comment on the stories we post. As one year ends,  we welcome the next, and look back at the posts you liked and shared the most throughout 2016.

Top posts for 2016:
iStock_000057740652_Full  10. Choose Your Path With PRIDE
American flag outdoors in a meadow on july 4th.  09. Independence: An opportunity for All
PRIDE Youth Services _ Melissa04  08. A New Perspective on Life
PRIDE Industries _ D Ramsey _ Los Angeles AFB  07. PRIDE is Like Family
PRIDE Industries_JeanineM  06. A Meaningful Alternative
PRIDE Industries_MsAlice  05. What I can Do
PRIDE Industries _ Charlie01  04. Can You Believe It?
PRIDE Industries _ Joey  03. An Opportunity for Meaningful Employment
pride-industries-_-richard_w  02. Feels Like I Never Left
PRIDE Industries_Dani  01. The Power of a Support Team
Thank you again,  we look forward to sharing more amazing stories in 2017!

With Gratitude

Happy Thanksgiving message card with pumpkins over yellow leaves

In this time of gratitude and thanks giving, we give thanks to you:

To our customers, friends and supporters who help create opportunity for more than 3,300 people with disabilities, employed at and supported by PRIDE Industries, thank you. We value your support and appreciate your confidence in us, and for this we are especially grateful.

To our business and community partners who employ and help individuals with a wide range of disabilities transition to the workforce, thank you. Every paycheck delivers dignity, self-respect, and the pride of inclusion to those most often excluded from employment.

To the counselors, trainers, recruiters, job coaches, job developers, and countless community resources who pave the path to employment, thank you. Your dedication and talents make life-changing difference to others.

Lastly, but not least, to our employees. Your passion, dedication, and grit have helped PRIDE Industries be the renowned social enterprise it is. When we think about the things we appreciate, we think of you and our work with you on the creation of jobs for people with disabilities. Thank you.

 

From all of us at PRIDE Industries – we wish you a Thanksgiving filled with abundance and bright moments.

Feels Like I Never Left

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Richard Wilson, joined the PRIDE Industries team at Fort Bliss, TX in 2014 after serving 18 years in the U.S. Army. Richard retired as a staff sergeant/E-6.
At PRIDE Industries, we help individuals who return with physical, emotional, and mental health disabilities that create obstacles to employment and self-sufficiency.

Richard became an orphan as a very young boy. His first few years were spent in a South Korean orphanage until an American couple adopted him. At eight years old Richard relocated to the U.S. with his new family. Learning a new language, adapting to a different culture, along with being given a new American name was challenging, recalls Richard.

He grew up in a small town in northwest Nevada. His teenage years were rough as he made wrong decisions and was going down the wrong path and barely graduated high school. Richard hungered for a fresh start. He joined the U.S. Army hoping it would provide a better future.

“I did not think I was going to make a career in the military, luckily it was exactly what I needed,” says Richard. While in the service Richard held several positions and completed three tours in Iraq. His time in the military left visible and hidden battle wounds.

Once his military career ended, he had difficulty transitioning to the civilian workforce. Richard attended multiple job fairs and joined numerous veteran’s programs, but nothing came through and he was unemployed for six months.

Though Richard aspired to continue protecting his country after retirement, life had other plans. “I wanted to be a border patrol or law enforcement agent, but I was unable due to my medical condition.”

Fortunately, Richard met Cynthia Baca at a job fair. Cynthia is a Recruiter for PRIDE at Fort Bliss in El Paso, Texas, focusing on individuals qualified under the AbilityOne Program. Under the AbilityOne program – a federal initiative to create jobs for individuals with significant disabilities – PRIDE Industries provides base-wide facilities support to the Army installation. “After I got into the program, Ms. Baca always updated me on new job listings and helped me apply,” says Richard. For Richard, Cynthia’s efforts to help him become employed were unlike anything he had experienced before. He credits her for his success at PRIDE, “I now refer other disabled veterans to Ms. Baca for help.” Learn more about Cynthia Baca.

Once at PRIDE, Richard began as a service order desk clerk. Later, Richard’s skills and work ethic earned him a promotion to the warehouse as a stocker. “Helping the technicians is the best part of this job,” says Richard. “I love working at PRIDE Industries, and my co-workers in the warehouse are like family.”

Although he loves his job, he does miss being a soldier. Luckily, his job at PRIDE has an additional benefit. “Working in a military community feels like I never left the Army,” says Richard. “It is rewarding contributing to the team that helps soldiers and the civilians that work with them.”

Though Richard’s military career ended with a disability and new challenges, he is grateful for the opportunity. “PRIDE allows me to continue to serve the military community,” says Richard.

We are so glad you found your place with PRIDE Industries Richard and thank you for your service. To learn more about PRIDE’s employment services for veterans visit: prideindustriesfoundation.org/programs.

Saluting Those Who Serve: Frank Goehringer

pride-industries-_-frank-military-pic_editedAfter graduating from college, Frank Goehringer wanted to serve the country that he loved while pursuing a career. He enlisted in the California Army National Guard in 1988, a commitment that continued throughout two decades. Service brought Frank around the country and the world to Germany, Panama and Italy. Despite over a decade of experience, the most significant and challenging part of his service was in 2003 when the United States had declared war on Iraq; Frank learned that he would immediately be sent over.

To support Operation Iraqi Freedom, Frank served in a military intelligence unit. His job duties included identifying, assessing and countering threats to the military. “Even though I had been stationed abroad before, it was a big adjustment getting used to working in an active war zone,” says Frank. During this period, he became injured and required surgery. While receiving medical treatment, Frank received the devastating news that four troops had been attacked and killed – including soldiers in his former convoy.

“I didn’t get to participate much in the battlefield, but I witnessed the full impact of war.”

During his recovery from surgery, Frank volunteered to help other soldiers attend doctor appointments. It was there that he witnessed the physical, mental and emotional aftermath of war. “This was a very emotional time for me,” says Frank. “After I deployed to Iraq, a lot changed within me. I made it my personal mission to help our country’s veterans, especially after seeing the challenges that most faced after coming home.”

While lending a helping hand, including personally hosting some homeless veterans in his house, Frank learned best how to help veterans transition to civilian life. “One of the biggest challenges facing younger and recent veterans now is that they learn many useful skills – but have a difficult time translating these to civilian job positions while drafting a resume and cover letter. The lack of civilian workplace connections and living with the effects and stigma of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) also creates obstacles to employment. “

After retiring from the National Guard, Frank decided to look for a new career opportunity. By chance, he met with a PRIDE Industries recruiter and was recommended for the PRIDE’s Veteran’s Liaison – a new position created in 2012. “Coming to PRIDE was an incredible experience. It was amazing seeing what people with disabilities can do given the opportunity. I wanted to help expand these opportunities to veterans – with and without disabilities.”

Frank soon got to work. Through his position, he helps veterans navigate through different government programs to get benefits and prepares them for employment. Frank uses his extensive knowledge of veteran networks to expand the company recruiting outreach. To bridge the gap between military and civilian skills, he helped with the creation of PRIDE’s internship program in 2014, where veterans are placed in a three-month paid internship to gain valuable work experience. Throughout his time at PRIDE Industries, Frank has successfully reached out to help veterans gain access to opportunities across the nation.

Frank’s commitment to his country and fellow veterans has continued beyond his role at PRIDE. He is a member of various organizations including AMVETS, AUSA (Association of the US Army), American Legion, DAV (Disabled American Veterans), VFW (Veterans of Foreign Wars) and Placer County Veteran Stand Down. Frank also is a volunteer and member with the Veteran Administration’s No Veteran Dies Alone, an organization which supports veterans in hospice care.

Thank you for your service and dedication Frank, and for your excellent efforts to help out our nation’s veterans. We are proud to have you at PRIDE Industries.

Saluting Those Who Serve: Enoch Mitchell

 

pride-industries-_-enoch-mitchell“I wanted to serve in the US military to make a difference in the world.” Enoch Mitchell was inspired to join the Army after witnessing the 9/11 attacks in his hometown of NYC. In 2008, he enlisted with his older brother. With his previous education in aviation, Enoch completed his basic training in in air defense. In 2010, he deployed to Iraq to serve in Operation Iraqi Freedom.

“I felt nervous but was excited to serve my country abroad. When I left, I flew to Germany first and then to a base near Baghdad, Iraq,” says Enoch. “After leaving the airplane and feeling the heat and seeing the red sky and American casualties – this all became reality.”

In his role as a Sergeant, Enoch kept the base safe by notifying soldiers of incoming artillery and intercepting rocket fire. This demanding positioning requires an advanced knowledge of air defense systems to provide 24/7 protection. During this period, Enoch shattered his leg; metal plates and pins were placed in the bone to keep it together. Due to this injury, his tour ended in 2011.

“It felt bittersweet coming home. It was good to be back, but I missed the familiarity and closeness of the military,” says Enoch.

After returning to the United States, Enoch requested to be stationed at Ft. Bliss until he retired in 2013. Transitioning from the military into civilian life is often a challenge, especially for veterans with service disabilities. Enoch struggled to find work. He found jobs at call centers, but none gave flexible accommodations that allowed him to deal with his injured leg and as a result, were short-lived. Enoch kept looking, and fortunately in 2015 was connected with PRIDE Industries.

Previously while stationed at Ft. Bliss, Enoch had interacted with PRIDE employees working on this contract. “From my experience, I saw that PRIDE was excellent company to work for, especially with the mission to create jobs for people with disabilities.” He worked with PRIDE’s AbilityOne Recruiter, Cynthia Baca, to apply for positions. Two months later, Enoch started working as a Service Order Desk Clerk, where he handles service orders through the plumbing shop.

Enoch has become a valued member of his team. Accommodations such as an ergonomic chair and a standing desk to make computer work comfortable for his leg, as well as flexibility for stretching breaks and medical appointments, have allowed him to thrive in his position. “I cannot see myself working anywhere else,” says Enoch. “PRIDE is different because they see you as more than just an employee, but as a person. The professionalism and teamwork exhibited by my colleagues make working here pleasant.”

Looking toward the future, Enoch is aiming to get into a management position. His mother recently relocated from El Paso from Brooklyn, and he proudly bought her a vehicle. Enoch hopes to have to rest of his family relocate to El Paso to reunite and to eventually purchase a home.

“I always feel respected as an employee, and greatly enjoy my job and coworkers. When you do what you love, and you never work a day in your life,” says Enoch. “I get to do this.”

We are glad to have veterans such as Enoch be a part of the team at PRIDE Industries, and help them to achieve their new goals and dreams.