Inclusion: National Disability Employment Awareness Month

National Disability Employment Awareness Month (NDEAM) is an annual campaign that takes place each October. The purpose of NDEAM is to increase awareness about disability employment challenges and to celebrate the many and varied contributions of workers with disabilities. This year’s theme is “America’s Workforce: Empowering All.”

People with disabilities often face significant barriers to employment, resulting in lower rates of participation in the labor force and higher unemployment rates compared to non-disabled workers.

With a history spanning over 50-years, PRIDE Industries (PRIDE) is one of the largest employers of people with disabilities, nationwide. At PRIDE we focus on abilities rather than disabilities and our programs and services help individuals overcome obstacles to employment. Individuals from all walks of life come to PRIDE. We provide opportunities at all skill levels with a ladder of opportunity to help individuals achieve their definition of success and self-sufficiency.

Employment is essential to an individual’s sense of purpose, dignity, inclusion and economic growth, ultimately resulting in a happier life.

By partnering with PRIDE Industries, businesses can leverage its person-centered services including assessments, job skills development, training, placement, transportation, and on-going support to ensure long-term employment success. PRIDE places people in its business lines and provides support to individuals in community-based opportunities.

Won’t you join PRIDE Industries in creating jobs for people with disabilities? Speak to our expert staff by contacting us at info@prideindustries.com.

On The Road With Pride

Year after year wildfires are becoming more frequent and more extensive, especially in the West Coast. August and September were particularly busy months for PRIDE Industries Transit department due to their involvement in the community.

On average, PRIDE Transit provides more than 1,200 daily shuttle rides to individuals with disabilities – working at PRIDE Industries or in the community. Often, for people with disabilities, access to transportation is a barrier to employment, for more on barriers to employment click here. Transportation provides an essential lifeline for people with disabilities to connect with employment opportunities, skills development, vocational related services, and the community.

PRIDE Industries Transit has a fleet of 60 vehicles covering 52 routes each morning and afternoon. Three buses are based and operate in Yuba and Sutter Counties, 20 are based in Auburn that operate in the foothills of both Nevada and Placer Counties, the remainder are based in Roseville at PRIDE headquarters and operate in Placer and Sacramento Counties.

Accessible vehicles are not only essential for providing transportation for people with a wide range of disabilities but also senior citizens and those with mobility restrictions. As it was the case in early September when a wildfire threatened the safety of an elderly community in the Foresthill area in Placer County, CA. “A call came into transit dispatch from the Placer County Public Health Department, requesting buses for the possible evacuation of a senior citizen mobile home park in the area,” says Jeff Murray, PRIDE’s Transportation Manager. “PRIDE Industries Transit responded by dispatching seven drivers and vehicles to the command center staging area.”

PRIDE Transit vehicles are small enough to maneuver in rural areas and are equipped with mobility lifts. The vehicles allow for ease of loading and transporting individuals requiring mobility aid. During this evacuation effort, four of the seven shuttles along with their driver spent the night at the staging area ready for immediate emergency evacuation scenario. Luckily, no one had to be evacuated, and all the residents of the senior living community were safe.

Photo credit: BillyJean Vollman, a PRIDE Industries Transit Driver

Later the team received a heartfelt note from the Placer County Sheriff’s Office, “You don’t know what a relief it is having you here. We didn’t know how we were going to get all those people out of there until you showed up.”

PRIDE’s Transit team is committed to providing outstanding service to the community and participates in the Placer County Mass Evacuation training. In recent years, the team has assisted in other evacuation efforts along with participating in community events such as the 1st Annual Association of the US Army (AUSA) Veterans Business Forum.

 

Veterans Salute – Joan O’Connor

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“I grew up on a farm in Walnut Ridge, AR. While attending college at Arkansas Tech University in Russellville, I joined the ROTC and decided to fully embrace the Army, as I enjoyed the comradery of the unit and the feeling that I worked for a worthwhile cause.”

Joan O’Connor is the HR Manager for PRIDE’s Little Rock, AR office. In her job, she manages a team of job coaches and admin staff for PRIDE Industries’ Little Rock Custodial, Little Rock AFB and Ft. Campbell, KY contracts to recruit and support employees with disabilities. Joan’s excellent leadership helped PRIDE to earn the 2017 Employer of the Year recognition by the Arkansas Rehabilitation Association.

Before joining PRIDE, Joan served in the US Army from 1978 – 1984, where she rose up the ranks and learned the skills which carry over to her role today. Below is her story, in her own words:

Joan’s Story:

“I was commissioned into the “Women’s Army Corps” in May 1978, which had just fully integrated into the Army by the time I went on Active Duty that August as a Chemical Officer (NBC). My first unit was the 75th Field Artillery Group at Fort Sill, OK where I was their first female officer. I was later assigned to the 8th DIVARTY in Baumholder, Germany, and ended my service as the Officer in charge of the Personnel Processing Center there.

I earned my commission as a second lieutenant (2LT/O-1) and was then promoted to first lieutenant (1LT/O-2) in 1980 and to Captain (CPT/O-3) in 1982.

My transition from a civilian to a military member felt incremental. The hardest (but most comical) adjustment I had to make was adjusting my southern manners – I only addressed people as sir and ma’am. I was always getting corrected for calling NCOs “sir!”

The most significant skill that I learned in the military was adapting my leadership style to a wide variety of learning techniques. I grew up in a small town that had a close-minded atmosphere. After joining the Army, I quickly learned how to work in a fast-paced work environment with a greater diversity of individual backgrounds to work together as a team.

I was fortunate to learn from excellent NCOs (non-commissioned officers) and officers who impressed on me the value of experience as well as education. Learn from those who know -that lesson still helps me today. This advice also guided me through different situations such as entering a live nerve gas chamber for training.

I left the Army in 1984 after six years of active service in both the US and Germany to  raise a growing family. Again, my transition to civilian life felt incremental, as I was still a military spouse. My advice to veterans transitioning to civilian life is not to go cold turkey. Keep in touch with your military friends and try to find a similar job if you enjoyed your past role. Take advantage of the educational and other benefits and use your experience to the benefit of others. 

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Joan O’Connor accepts the 2017 Employer of the Year recognition by the Arkansas Rehabilitation Association

I made my way to PRIDE Industries by chance, and I am so glad I did. After being laid off in 2008, I saw an HR job opening at PRIDE’s Little Rock, AR office and thought it was a perfect fit. I relate well to PRIDE’s mission, as I have a significant hearing loss (which became worse by my time serving in the Army Field Artillery) and have a child with learning disabilities. I also previously worked with the ARC and with an organization that advocated for the adoption of children in state care, many of whom had disabilities.

After nine years of joining PRIDE, I still feel the same way!

The most enjoyable part of my job is the wide variety of people that I work with to achieve the same mission, including nonprofits, community organizations, and governmental agencies. It feels wonderful to help people who might otherwise never have an opportunity to work for a “real” paycheck and contribute with their talents. I also appreciate the opportunity to show our community what people with disabilities can achieve if given a chance.”

Labor Day: A Celebration of all American Workers

With a history spanning more than 50 years, PRIDE Industries has been creating opportunities for those most often excluded from employment – people with disabilities. At PRIDE, we know that individuals with disabilities are talented and capable of overcoming obstacles to employment.

Like everyone else, people with disabilities have strengths and skills that contribute to our nation; on Labor Day we celebrate the social and economic accomplishments of all American workers – with and without disabilities. Together, we can chip away at the stubborn statistic that affects individuals with disabilities – they are twice as likely to be unemployed.

Employment is essential to an individual’s sense of purpose, dignity, and inclusion. PRIDE’s programs and services are tailored to serve the needs of the individual to help them achieve their goals.

From all of us at PRIDE Industries – thank you for your contributions to our nation! Have a great and safe Labor Day.

A Day in the Life of a PRIDE Industries Job Developer

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PRIDE Industries is proud to be the largest provider of employment services for individuals with disabilities in the state of California. What makes this success possible is our network of dedicated Job Developers and Job Coaches, who assess each client’s abilities, strengths and obstacles while identifying new employment placement opportunities.

Kimberly Jamerson is a Job Developer in PRIDE’s Placerville, California office. In this role, she connects individuals with disabilities to employers in the local community – annually placing approximately 12-15 individuals in employment. Below is a description of her role, told in her own words:

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“I joined PRIDE as an Independent Living Skills Coordinator and was later promoted to a Job Developer in 2010. Through time, I learned how to identify each individual’s capabilities and how to address their obstacles to employment.”

“Our consumers (clients) have various types of intellectual or developmental disabilities; many of them are looking for their first job. During the intake process, we learn about their interests, capabilities, and challenges. My role then is to prepare them for potential employment (Employment Preparation) while building their confidence and ensuring them that they will have support throughout the process.”

“Placerville, CA is located within El Dorado County, which is mainly rural. This location presents obstacles, especially since many of our consumers do not have access to a vehicle or cannot drive, and the bus system is limited. We work to identify solutions to transportation and any other barriers towards job attendance and performance prior to a consumer being placed in employment.”

“It might take several interviews over a long period of time, but I work hard to find each consumer a job. For example, I had an individual that struggled to measure time. We worked with him by purchasing a specialized watch and practicing clocking in/out. Practice made perfect, and he was soon hired as a courtesy clerk at a grocery store. He has worked there now for over two years!”

“Making that first connection with employers and business owners is often challenging; it is similar to conducting a sales pitch and requires multiple-follow ups. Many are skeptical about PRIDE’s mission and success rates. However, I’m passionate about my job and will do whatever I can to help educate employers about our programs and the abilities of our consumers.”

“Persistence does pay off, and it’s always worthwhile when I start a relationship between PRIDE and a new business partner. My strategy is to identify the best person to introduce myself to, explain how the unique abilities of our consumer(s) will meet their needs, and how PRIDE will support them along the way. The best part of my job is when I’m able to help both parties and create more opportunities for people with disabilities – especially when businesses start to contact me when they need new employees!”

“In summary, my job allows me to work with people from all walks of life, create a more diverse workforce, and to use my creativity to help change lives. There is nothing more rewarding than when an individual with a disability reaches their goal and earns the independence that comes with a job.”

We thank you, Kimberly, for your dedication towards placing individuals with disabilities into employment and making a positive impact.

Independence – of a Different Kind


“Those who won our independence believed liberty to be the secret of happiness.” 
— Louis Dembitz Brandeis

Tomorrow, we celebrate Independence Day – Fourth of July. As a nation, we celebrate our freedom, liberties, and independence that we as Americans enjoy.

Independence – of a different kind – is the fuel that keeps PRIDE Industries moving forward. This concept of ‘independence’ can have many different meanings and can be a very personal undertaking for people with disabilities.

PRIDE’s commitment to helping individuals with disabilities to overcome barriers to employment and other obstacles to independence began in 1966. As an organization, we are committed to creating opportunities for people with disabilities – the foundation of independence and a self-sufficient life.

What is independence?

For some, it is complete freedom from the need for, or reliance upon, a program or services. For others, it is merely the ability to participate in and contribute to their community. For each, the catalyst for accomplishing these goals is through employment; a job.

Having a job provides, “social, psychological, and financial benefits that improve health” and make for a happier life. For more information on the benefits of employment and its correlation with one’s health, click here.

Working at PRIDE or with one of more than 250 community partners means gaining the skills needed to achieve greater self-sufficiency.

On Fourth of July and year-round, let’s celebrate the triumphs and achievements of individuals overcoming barriers to employment.

 

From all of us at PRIDE Industries – Happy Independence Day!

Honoring Our Fallen Heroes

“137 years later, Memorial Day remains one of America’s most cherished patriotic observances. The spirit of this day has not changed-it remains a day to honor those who died defending our freedom and democracy.”     — Congressman Doc Hastings

On Memorial Day – Monday, May 28th –  we pause and remember the brave women and men who have made the ultimate sacrifice while protecting our freedom and fighting for their country.

PRIDE Industries’ mission is to create jobs for people with disabilities – this includes veterans. Our programs and services help veterans with physical, emotional, and mental scars which create obstacles to employment and self-sufficiency. PRIDE also provides opportunities for individuals who have difficulty rejoining the workforce. On this Memorial Day, we welcome our returning veterans and honor our fallen heroes.

To all, a joyful and safe Memorial Day.

Spotlight On: PRIDE’s Woodland, CA Employment Services

Smiling Asian businessman shaking partners hand

HELPING OTHERS

Our Woodland Employment Services Center is a small office with one Job Developer and three Job Coaches that services Yolo County, CA. Despite their small size, the team has created a huge impact in the community; for the last two years they have served more than 90 job development clients, provided 500 hours of job coaching and placed more than 50 people in employment. With funding made possible by generous donations to PRIDE Industries Foundation, they also create opportunities by offering paid internships to qualified individuals with disabilities looking to start their careers. Below are two stories of successful job placement:

JOHN CURTIS:

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“Employment has changed my life for the better. The opportunity to help my clients with disabilities succeed in employment motivates me every day.”

As a PRIDE Industries Job Coach, John Curtis helps clients with disabilities by providing coaching and training. John works very closely with each client to ensure they are successfully placed, starting with the intake process through their first weeks of employment preparation and following along after assisting the client in securing employment. He also maintains accurate case notes, reports throughout the process, and provides offsite job coaching, external situational assessments, vocational assessments and PVSA services.

What helps make John so successful at his job is his ability to relate to his clients’ experience – navigating a job search while having a disability. In 2016, John experienced a back injury; this disability and a lack of work experience (after recently obtaining his high school diploma) created obstacles to finding work. Seeking help, he contacted the Department of Rehabilitation, which referred him to PRIDE Industries.

After completing an ESA (External Situational Assessment) in 2017, to determine his job skills and interests, John started a paid internship at PRIDE’s Woodland, CA Employment Services Office. “John is a wonderful addition to our Woodland team,” says Job Developer Tara Vittone. “He learned so much in such a short period of time and occasionally helps solve our computer problems!” Just three months later, John was offered a permanent position with PRIDE.

In less than two years, John accomplished two major goals: completing his high school education and obtaining a full-time, meaningful job at PRIDE Industries. He plans to attend college to grow his career and aims to purchase his own home.

AREN SCARDACI: 

Aren

Aren struggled to find a full-time job that utilized his educational background. To jump start his career, he was referred to PRIDE Industries in late 2016.

With the extra help, Aren was able to extend his job search. “PRIDE’s staff was very supportive, and they helped me refine my employment soft skills while accommodating for my disability,” says Aren. “PRIDE works very hard to find their clients a job that fits their skills and background.”

To strengthen his resume, Aren was offered an internship with the Woodland Office in 2017. As an intern, he assisted with facilitating Job Club and working one-on-one with other PRIDE clients seeking employment. “Coaching other individuals allowed me to gain communication and practical skills that continue to help me today,” says Aren. His Job Developer also helped place Aren in a clerical volunteer position at the local United Way to continue to diversify his skills.

All the hard work finally paid off; in October 2017, Aren interviewed and was hired as a Computer Learning Center Coordinator job at Yolo County Housing. In this position, he helps youth residents use the computer lab, assists with homework and class material and leads educational activities. “

“This job is a perfect fit for me,” says Aren. “I enjoy sharing my outdoor education background with the residents. We recently conducted a scavenger hunt of California state parks using Google Maps.”

“I’m thankful for all the care and support from PRIDE’s staff. Employment has given me greater independence, and I am enjoying my new career. I also hope that my story can be used to encourage others with disabilities who are struggling to find employment.”

April: Autism Awareness Month

For almost 50 years, April has been designated as Autism Awareness Month. A month-long celebration and a nationwide effort to promote autism awareness, autism acceptance and increase attention to those affected by autism.

What is Autism
Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is a complex developmental disability. Symptoms typically appear during early childhood and is usually a life-long condition that affects a person’s ability to communicate, socially interact with others and can include repetitive behavior.

Statistics
The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) estimates that 1 in 68 children are impacted by ASD. Thirty-five percent of young adults (ages 19-23) with autism have not had a job or completed secondary education. Studies have shown that steady employment can help ease symptoms and improve functioning in daily living. Individuals with ASD can often make excellent employees due to their careful attention to detail and quality of work. They just need to be given the opportunity.

How PRIDE Can Help
PRIDE Industries is committed to aiding adults with disabilities lead independent and fulfilling lives – by providing an opportunity, something many take for granted — the chance to be employed and contribute to the community. To learn more about PRIDE’s People Services, click here.

Celebrating Talent: Developmental Disabilities Awareness Month

March is Developmental Disabilities Awareness Month. During the month we celebrate the successes of individuals with developmental disabilities. They are our neighbors, friends, family members and coworkers.
Developmental disabilities include attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder, autism spectrum disorder, cerebral palsy, fetal alcohol spectrum disorders, fragile x syndrome, hearing loss and intellectual disability. Developmental disabilities can cause challenges with 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.
For over 50 years, PRIDE Industries has created opportunities for those often excluded from the workforce – individuals with disabilities.
At PRIDE, instead of disability – we see unique abilities, and we celebrate accomplishments every day. With some support from PRIDE’s programs and services, individuals can gain meaningful employment and greater independence. Below are a few individuals who were impacted by PRIDE’s mission:

 

Mario: he has taken the skills learned at PRIDE and applied them to his current job in the community.

 

 

Brandon: a young adult who encountered many obstacles while searching for his first job after high school.

 

 

PRIDE Industries employee with disabilities working at Sacramento International Airport

 

Eric: a key member of PRIDEs’ custodial team ensuring that the Sacramento International Airport Terminal B is spotless.

How can you help? Everyone can 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.
Join our network of more than 230 community employers who understand that the same qualities that help a person overcome disability challenges, are the same skills most often sought after in the workplace: resilience, determination and persistence in pursuit of a goal. For more information, email us at info@prideindustries.com.