Top 10 Blog Posts of 2014

PRIDE Industries Blog

It is that time again… the beginning of a new year. Thank you for the time you spent visiting and sharing posts. We love to hear from you. With each like, share, and comment we can serve you better and provide the stories you want to read. As we end one year and welcome the next, we look back at the content you loved most during the year.

Below you will find the top ten blog posts PRIDE Industries published in 2014, based on your visits and shares.

  1. Assistive Technology Program Helps Individuals with Disabilities Advance

Assistive technology creates opportunity where there was none.


  1. SPOTLIGHT ON: PRIDE Industries Youth Services Program

A day shadowing PRIDE’s Youth Services staff with an overview of the program.


  1. SPOTLIGHT ON: Cynthia Baca

A shout-out to one of our tri-lingual rock stars at PRIDE Industries Fort Bliss contract.


  1. A Job Helps Boost Confidence, Self-esteem, and Self-sufficiency

Jonathan shares his story and tells us about how his job has changed his life.


  1. 10 Tips on Communicating with People with Disabilities

Improve your interaction and be more comfortable with people with disabilities.


  1. Donald’s Accomplishments Made History

A PRIDE Industries employee is the first Special Olympian inducted into the Sacramento Sports Hall of Fame.


  1. SPOTLIGHT ON: PRIDE’s Employment Support Services

Employment supports guide individuals with disabilities to success.


  1. The Next Chapter

Devin gained experience through a paid internship and earned full-time employment at PRIDE.


  1. A Day in the Life of a Disability Case Manager

Much of the day-to-day work that goes into ensuring success for individuals with disabilities goes unseen. We shine a spotlight on a dedicated case manager.


  1. Just Be Happy

Drum roll, please… the most visited blog post of the year was Cameron’s, who charmed us with his radiant outlook on life.


What else did you enjoy reading on our blog in 2014?

See you in 2015.

Happy New Year!

For nearly 50 years, PRIDE Industries has been guided by a single mission focus: creating jobs for people with disabilities.

All of us at PRIDE Industries appreciate the role our customers, partners, employees, friends, and supporters play in helping people with disabilities succeed. Your contributions and dedication make a meaningful difference in the lives of others.

As we reflect on the year, we asked PRIDE employees to share with us what their job means to them. The response was overwhelming. View below.

Thank you for your support throughout 2014, and best wishes for a wonderful New Year filled with opportunity for all.

Assistive Technology Program Helps Individuals With Disabilities Advance

Assistive technology can make a significant impact on opportunity creation for people with disabilities. Assistive Technology is any tool or computer program which helps individuals with disabilities at work. PRIDE Industries’ Assistive Technology Program uses a wide array of tools and computer software enabling individuals with disabilities to succeed in jobs that would otherwise be unavailable to them. PRIDE Industries Foundation’s Assistive Technology Program purchases items such as tablets, hearing aids, and computer accessibility software to help our employees succeed in their careers. Recently, two PRIDE Industries employees were supported through the Foundation to obtain hearing aids, and have shared their stories with us.

Joseph Beccera

Joseph Becerra joined PRIDE Industries in 2011 as a Maintenance Trades Helper at PRIDE Industries – Fort Bliss in El Paso, Texas. He has bilateral hearing loss and a prosthetic right eye. With the help of hearing aids, he is able to hear loud noises such as the beeping of a truck backing up and sirens; however, his primary form of communication is American Sign Language. PRIDE’sJoseph Becerra_01 Rehabilitation team at Fort Bliss is particularly well-equipped to support employees with hearing impairments – all job coaches are quad-lingual (English, Spanish, American Sign Language, and Mexican Sign Language). With these supports and a lot of hard work and determination, Joseph was promoted to a General Maintenance Worker.

In February 2014, Joseph asked to relocate to PRIDE’s Fort McArthur site in Los Angeles, CA to be closer to family. PRIDE approved the transfer, and Joseph now works as a Grounds Maintenance Laborer at Fort McArthur in Southern California. Other staff members soon noticed that Joseph continued to struggle with hearing. They found out that he was using a friend’s old hearing aids because he could not afford his own. These hearing aids were not molded to his ears, or prescribed for his type of hearing loss. Joseph was also unable to qualify for financial assistance from the California Department of Rehabilitation.

PRIDE Industries Foundation stepped in to help fund new hearing aids. Joseph said that the new hearing aids have changed every area of his life – he is now less dependent on his wife, children, and co-workers for communication assistance. He is thrilled to continue as a PRIDE Industries employee, especially since he now has much more autonomy and can communicate with co-workers and customers.


Soledad Rosal

Soledad Rosal_01Soledad Rosal has worked as a custodian for 15 years at PRIDE Industries’ Travis Air Force Base location. Her duties include general cleaning and building maintenance. Before joining PRIDE, Soledad worked as a food preparer for a restaurant. She is hearing-impaired and struggled in the job because her employer did not provide accommodations such as sign language interpretation. Fortunately, the California Department of Rehabilitation referred Soledad to PRIDE Industries. Soledad is thriving in her job at PRIDE – Travis AFB where she is provided with supportive training and a sign language interpreter or Video Remote Interpreting (VRI) – ASL when needed. “I really like my job and the opportunity to work in a team environment,” Soledad says.

PRIDE Industries Foundation funded new hearing aids for Soledad, which will help her communicate more easily with co-workers and customers. “I want to thank you for the hearing aids, Soledad says. “Now I will be able to communicate more effectively with others, including being able to respond when someone calls my name or hearing a knock on my door.”

Assistive Technology and Accommodation at PRIDE

PRIDE’s program goes well beyond reasonable accommodations, including equipping conference rooms with an Audio Loop System. The system enables individuals who wear a hearing aid to connect by blocking distracting noise in the environment except for the speaker. Also, some of PRIDE’s employees are provided with devices such as smart phones with two-way communication capabilities for real-time ASL translation. These tools enable individuals to advance into positions where – without the technology – completing the essential tasks of the job could be a challenge.

A few technologies used at PRIDE Industries include, Tobii PCEye an eye-tracking tool that allows people with severe physical disabilities (such as Cerebral Palsy, spinal cord injuries, and Lou Gehrig’s disease) to control a computer with their eyes instead of a mouse. Dragon NaturallySpeaking is a speech-to-text software tool for individuals who have jobs that require computer use.

Candace MC02Earlier this year Candace McCain was diagnosed with MS (Multiple Sclerosis) and has been battling the affects since. “It has caused me to go blind in my left eye,” Candace says. “I am not sure if I will ever get my vision back, but thank you PRIDE for installing the ZoomText program on my computer.” Without the program, Candace would not be able to do her job. “It helps by magnifying everything so I can see with my right eye. It also has a talking feature which reads everything I am doing.” Computer accessibility software helps PRIDE Industries employees succeed in their careers. “The program is awesome. I do not know what I would do without it.”

PRIDE’s Assistive Technology team works closely with our vocational counselors and case managers to identify potential accessibility needs. Technology guru, Robert Lao, keeps PRIDE up-to-date on advancements in technology to best serve the needs of our employees. PRIDE provides Assistive Technology services to people with disabilities at all of our locations across 14 states and Washington, D.C.

Assistive technology changes the way individuals with disabilities access and contribute to the workplace. These tools create opportunities for people with disabilities otherwise not available to them. The benefits go beyond the job. The ability to communicate is priceless.

Want to learn more about Assistive Technology? View the video below.

SPOTLIGHT ON: PRIDE Industries Youth Services Program

Pictured L to R: Andy Palmer, Amanda Cozington, Bethany Okusako, Mindy Tubra, Traci Hart and Dan Apgar

Pictured L to R: Andy Palmer, Amanda Cozington, Bethany Okusako, Mindy Tubra, Traci Hart and Dan Apgar

PRIDE Industries Youth Services Program helps teens and young adults overcome obstacles to employment – paving the way to a better future. PRIDE Youth Services is led by Mindy Tubra, and team members include: Amanda Cozington, Andy Palmer, Bethany Okusako, Dan Apgar, and Traci Hart. I wanted to learn more about the program, so I spent some time shadowing several Counselors/Job Developers.

I’ve written about foster youth interning at PRIDE headquarters, so I am familiar with this portion of the program. I thought that shadowing individuals in the staff team would give me a better understanding of the entire program and insight into the challenges of the individuals enrolled. What I learned was that the oft-used phrase, “it takes a village…” is especially true when it concerns at-risk youth and those leaving the foster care system.

The following is a recap of my time spent with the team.



I attended a class at a Koinonia Group Home, taught by Andrew “Andy” Palmer, a PRIDE Youth Counselor/Job Developer. Koinonia group homes are highly structured, professional inpatient substance abuse treatment facilities for adolescents. Each individual is in recovery and their special needs are met through services provided by professional agency staff. Community agencies such as PRIDE’s Youth Services Program provide additional resources and services. PRIDE services are provided by the KEYS (Kaleidoscope for Employment of Youth Success) program, which provides employment services to emancipating foster youth with diagnosed disabilities.

Classes taught by PRIDE Industries Youth Services counselors are part of the teen’s recovery process. They are intended to help them build a foundation for a better future. Classes cover topics including: Money Smart, Relationship Building, Setting Boundaries, Drug and Chemical Education, and Vocational Readiness, which all focus on recovery.


Andy Palmer teaching teens at a Koinonia Group Home

I attended a class on Healthy Relationships – a subject most parents discuss with their children. These youths have not had that experience. For this class, young men and women attend separately. The students are foster youth participating at Koinonia’s substance abuse treatment clinic in Placer County; their ages range from 13 to 18 years-old.

The topic of Meaningful Relationships began with a check-in; each student shared an update, or something exciting that happened since their last visit. Andy then assigned a journal activity – to write about a powerful relationship and why it is meaningful. After five minutes of writing, the discussion began.

One by one, the students revealed an important relationship: parents, grandparents, siblings, best friends, friends in treatment and more.

Through the discussion, they analyzed the relationships – their meaning, and how they influenced their choices. Feeling loved, not judged, providing a sense of commonality, dependability, and consistency made these relationships important to the teens.

Unfortunately, these were often the relationships that introduced the students to drugs, alcohol, or unhealthy life choices in the first place – feeding a cycle of abuse and addiction. Listening to their discussion felt therapeutic – as if breakthroughs were being experienced.

Breaking the cycle is often extremely difficult; out-of-home placements in a foster/group home can provide a fresh start and an opportunity to make a break from hopelessness and addiction. Koinonia Group Homes and their partner agencies provide vital rehabilitative services and resources to youths in foster care.



I met with Amanda Cozington, a PRIDE Youth Counselor/Job Developer, and her client Emerald, 19, at The Taylor House – a transitional house for former foster youth and at-risk/homeless girls. The Taylor House is located in Roseville, CA. The home is a safe and comfortable place for transitioning girls; with the assistance of community resources, they can create a healthy foundation for adulthood.

Emerald’s story began when her parents’ home was foreclosed upon in 2013. For several months, she and her family experienced homelessness. For months, they lived in motel rooms uncertain about what would come next. Eventually, the family separated and moved to different states. Emerald was left to fend for herself without her family, a support system, or home. Luckily, she was referred to PRIDE Industries Youth Services.

With the assistance of her counselor, Emerald now has a resume, a cover letter, important vital documents needed for employment, and health insurance. Most importantly, she has a safe place to call home. She landed a part-time job at the mall which seemed promising until her hours were cut.


Pictured L to R: Emerald and Amanda Cozington

Fortunately, Emerald is a resilient and resourceful young woman. She is determined to make something of herself. She began volunteering at a local organization called Compassion Planet. Compassion Planet is a non-profit providing support to at-risk teens and aged-out foster youth in Placer and Sacramento Counties. Through their business ventures, they provide jobs and life-skills to youth in the region. As a volunteer, Emerald gained employment skills and possibly a new job with the organization which she hopes to begin soon.

Despite her difficult past, Emerald is doing her best to move forward. “Live life and move on,” says Emerald. “The past is the past and it doesn’t have to follow you into the future.” She is thankful for her family and the past she overcame, understanding that those experiences shaped her into the person she is today. For now, she is focusing on continuing to gain work experience that will lead her to a career path. Emerald plans to attend college once she has a better idea of what she wants to study.



Late on a Friday afternoon, I met with Dan Apgar, a PRIDE Youth Counselor/Job Developer and his client “Paul” (he asked us not to use his real name). Dan supports Paul through WIA (Workforce Investment Act), a Golden Sierra Job Training Agency grant. Through WIA PRIDE Youth Counselors/Job Developers, provide employment preparation and education services to at-risk youth in Placer County.

Paul, 19, came to PRIDE Industries after many failed attempts to find work on his own. Paul lives with schizophrenia – often unseen and misunderstood mental illness. With medication, it is kept under control, but his speech is also a bit slurred and monotone – something he is trying to improve to make a better first impression.

After months of applying for jobs without success, Paul decided to contact a professional. For the past seven months, he has been working with Dan to create a resume, a cover letter, gain interview and job seeking skills. In March, he landed an internship at a local store!

While interning at the store, Paul has gained valuable customer service skills, and learned how to be diligent and proactive employee. He has also improved his speech and confidence.

Dan and Paul meet on a weekly basis to review challenges and to practice interviewing skills. As a next step, Paul hopes to get a job at an athletic shoes store so he can share his passion for shoes with customers and co-workers. His aspirations go beyond shoes; Paul’s dream job is to be an Audio Engineer. He wants to help artist’s record the next bit hit.


View a Los Angeles Times video on – “Aging Out: Voices from those in the foster care system

Aging Out



In setting out to learn more about PRIDE’s Youth Services Program, I learned about the “village” – the many community programs serving the needs of foster youth, transitioning youth, and at-risk youth. Youth Services works with multiple group homes in Placer County and other agencies including the Children’s Receiving Home of Sacramento, and Mercy Ministries. These community partners work together to help youth overcome often troubled paths and create a better one for the future.

We’re proud to be a part of this network, serving more than 300 foster and at-risk youth annually with support, training and paid internships for qualifying individuals provided in part through PRIDE Industries Foundation.


To learn more about PRIDE’s programs, click here.

Thank you,

Catalina Figueroa


Thank You


Thank you for your support to PRIDE Industries Foundation on the Big Day of Giving, yesterday.

Gifts made to PRIDE on the ‘big day’ raised more than $5,000, which will support PRIDE’s Job Coaching Program for people with disabilities – nationwide. PRIDE’s Job coaches are talented individuals who understand their clients’ unique needs. They are the reason for the success of our employees with disabilities.

Job Coaches provide step-by-step support to individuals working at PRIDE Industries. Their job is not a typical 9 to 5. They visit clients at their job site and help them through any of their challenges at work.

Because your support and generous donations, individuals like Rhonda, will get the individualized support needed to achieve success at work. Rhonda shares: “When I first started working at PRIDE I was scared I wouldn’t be successful. I received the training and support I needed to do my job and PRIDE has made my success a priority.”

PRIDE’s structured approach provides a support system that includes Job Coaches, Case Manager, Counselors, and Supervisors who understand each person’s challenges and are able to help remove obstacles to their success.

To learn more about PRIDE’s Programs, click here.

The Countdown is over


The Countdown is over; today is the Big Day of Giving!

Gifts made to PRIDE Industries Foundation, today, will support PRIDE’s Job Coaching Program for people with disabilities – nationwide. To give, click here.

PRIDE Industries’ Job coaches are dedicated and talented individuals who understand their clients’ unique needs. They are the reason for the success of our employees with disabilities. Job Coaches encourage their clients toward professional development – as they did with Mason C. With the support of his counselor, job coach, and manager – Mason applied for a job promotion and got it! Mason is now a Maintenance Trades Helper in the HVAC department on PRIDE’s base operating support services contract at Fort Polk, LA.

“Everyday I come to work knowing that the only constant will be the privilege I have to work with people with disabilities…There’s nothing more rewarding than knowing you’ve made even a small difference in someone’s life, and I make sure everyone I have the pleasure to work with knows how much they have inspired me.” -Nicole D., Job Coach at PRIDE Industries – JB-MDL, NJ.

All Donations must be made through a special website: The ‘Big Day’ is a 24-hour online challenge beginning at 12:00 AM and ends at 11:59 PM Pacific Time. All gifts must be made through our profile in order to be are eligible for matching funds.

Donate Now

“I love helping others. Helping or assisting individuals with disabilities gain independence in their personal and work life is reward enough for me.” – Jaccara S., Job Coach at PRIDE Industries – Fort Rucker, AL.


People Helping People

GiveBigDoG 050114

PRIDE Industries Foundation is participating in a nationwide and community day of giving on Tuesday, May 6th, 2014. Nearly 400 of the Sacramento region’s nonprofits are participating in the Big Day.

Starting at midnight, 12:00 AM Pacific Standard Time, the 24-hour On-line giving challenge begins! All gifts made through the special website on May 6, may be eligible for match funds. The challenge ends at 11:59 PM (PST).

100% of funds contributed to PRIDE through the Big Day of Giving will support PRIDE’s Job Coaching Program – nationwide.

If you have been meaning to give – Tuesday, May 6th is the day. Mark your calendar and donate to PRIDE Industries Foundation to support Job Coaching nationwide.

Here is why:


PRIDE Industries’ Job Coaches are truly the reason for the success of our employees with disabilities. Our Job coaches are dedicated and talented individuals who understand their clients’ unique needs. They encourage their clients toward professional development – as they did with Mason C. With the support of his counselor, job coach, and manager – Mason applied for a job promotion and got it! Mason is now a Maintenance Trades Helper in the HVAC department on PRIDE’s base operating support services contract at Fort Polk, LA.

Our Job Coaches are devoted to helping individuals with disabilities reach independence and their personal goals. “When I applied for the position of job coach, I never knew it would change my life,” says Samantha S., Job Coach at PRIDE’s JB-MDL contract in NJ. “I strive to make a difference in this world. PRIDE has given me that opportunity, and I thank them every day for allowing me to do so.”


PRIDE’s structured approach provides a support system that includes Job Coaches, Case Manager, Counselors, and Supervisors who understand each person’s challenges and are able to help remove obstacles to their success.

“There is no cookie cutter approach and one way/one size does not fit all,” says Caryl Balko, a PRIDE Job Developer. “That is what we ‘pride’ ourselves on here -the individualized approach – custom -tailored to fit the individual’s unique needs.”

Job Coaches provide step-by-step support to individuals with disabilities working at PRIDE. This is not a typical 9 to 5 job. They visit clients at their job site and help them through any of their challenges at work.


“Simply put, I love my job,” says John E., Job coach at PRIDE Industries. “My favorite part of being a job coach is the people I support, followed by the relationships and trust built over time.”



Autism Awareness Month 2014

Autism Awareness Month 2014

April marks Autism Awareness Month, an entire month devoted to raising awareness about this disease. Autism is the fastest-growing developmental disorder causing significant social, communication, and behavioral challenges depending upon the severity. According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), Autism affects 1 in 88 children, with a much higher incident rate almost five times higher in boys versus girls.

About 1 in 6 children in the U.S. had a developmental disability in 2006-2008, ranging from mild disabilities such as speech and language impairments to serious developmental disabilities, such as intellectual disabilities, cerebral palsy, and autism. However, the number of people diagnosed with autism could be reduced by nearly one third under new diagnostic criteria released last year. The Diagnosis Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5) is a document of the American Psychiatric Association. The update made changes in how autism is defined – in particular, Asperger’s Syndrome, for which there is no longer a separate diagnosis definition. Some worry that individuals who would previously have been qualified for a diagnosis will be left out. Without a diagnosis, children may not qualify for needed services – when early intervention makes such a critical long-term difference.


Although symptoms and their severity vary widely, the majority of young adults with autism spectrum disorder don’t go to college, which impacts their employment options. This year alone, 50,000 adolescents with autism will turn 18. But for people on the high-functioning end of the autism spectrum, high-tech jobs can be a perfect fit. They may flourish at engineering-type tasks or computer design, where their interaction with people is somewhat limited and an extreme focus on detail is a highly valued quality.

Autism Awareness Month 2014 high tech jobs

While PRIDE has been integrating people on the spectrum into our workforce for years (electronics manufacturing in particular), some large commercial companies are catching on, read more about it. More and more companies are learning that matching unique talents to the right jobs can provide a competitive advantage in addition to meaningful employment. PRIDE assistance in preparing these individuals for competitive employment opportunities includes development of an in-school training program that focuses on the abilities of this unique population. We are currently working with a private school in Sacramento on a pilot program that provides this training for transitional-aged students.

Collaboration enables jobs for people with autism, strengthening companies and improving people’s lives. If you know of a company that could benefit by employing the individuals we support, please email us at:

Spotlight On: PRIDE’s Supported Employment Services

Support Services team

PRIDE Industries’ Supported Employment Services Northern California team.

Supported Employment provides a path for individuals with disabilities entering or re-entering the workforce. I frequently write for this blog, and wanted to learn more about the program, so I spent a day shadowing one of PRIDE Industries’ Job Developers, Caryl Balko.

I expected to find a formula. To my surprise, there is no one approach. Following is a recap of my day with PRIDE. To protect the privacy of those I observed, I will not use real names. But their stories had a very real impact on me.



The day started with a new client intake interview, the first formality in the getting started process. I met a young man, “Dave” and his father, “Dan.” Caryl asked a series of questions about Dave’s employment history, job interests, and basic personal information. The sum o f Dave’s employment history was volunteering at a family friends’ auto shop. Dave was very motivated to work and become more independent; landing a paid position would be Dave’s first job. Prior to the meeting, Caryl spoke with Dan to schedule an External Situational Assessment (ESA) for the following week.

An ESA is a paid two-week trial work period, which evaluates an individual’s readiness for working in the community. During the ESA period, a PRIDE Job Coach will oversee, assess, and evaluate the individual’s acceptance of directions, capabilities, and performance on the job, among other skills. The assessment helps to evaluate the strengths and abilities of an individual to ensure a good match for the employee and the employer.

The intake meeting took about one hour; Dave was excited to participate in the ESA and earn his first paycheck, hopefully on the road to full time employment.



Wherever available, Job Clubs provide a great opportunity for individuals to gain hands-on interviewing and job seeking practice. This includes job etiquette skills, a roadmap of the do’s and don’ts of job searching, and other employment related training.

Individuals that Caryl serves through the Supported Employment Program meet with their job developers on a weekly basis. Caryl and her group meet on Tuesdays. The group includes people of various ages, backgrounds and obstacles to employment – each with their unique story.

My visit provided an opportunity for additional practice. When I walked in, I saw a room with all seats full of well-dressed individuals, sported beaming smiles. We role modeled. I pretended to be the hiring manager. One by one, we shook hands, made eye contact, and they stated the position they were applying for. I thought they did perfectly! Call me a sucker, but if I could, I’d hire every single one of them! Unbeknownst to me, the group had recently discussed the importance of making a great first impression. They all passed with flying colors!

Some people come to Job Club seeking their first-ever employment. For others, this is a re-entry stepping stone to a second career after a disability diagnosis.

It doesn’t happen immediately. Some individuals “spark” as Caryl says – sooner than others. One woman, in particular, really stood out. Until this day, she had apparently attended – but not really engaged -with the group. She recently met a manager at a local store that she would love to work at; she introduced herself – and while she did not get the job, something in that opportunity inspired her to take control over her future. She arrived completely motivated to continue pursuing her goal of total independence.



As a job developer, Caryl attributes her success with job placement to on-going networking. She is a member of local chambers and other organizations. On the day of my visit, Caryl had a chamber luncheon to attend, so I joined. Attending these types of events provides Caryl with an opportunity to share PRIDE’s mission with local business owners and community leaders. It also provides an opportunity for placement! Later, Caryl explained that several individuals on her caseload are employed at the senior center where the chamber luncheon took place and are doing great on the job!



After the networking event, we rushed back to the office to observe an exit External Situational Assessment (ESA) meeting. This is a review of the two-week trial work period conducted with the individual, their coach and their Department of Rehabilitation case manager.

Here, I met “Larry,” and his mother, “Rose,” and several other individuals – Shanna Welch, PRIDE Industries Assessor/Job Coach and Larry’s DOR Case Manager.

During the meeting, Larry’s DOR Case Manager discussed the assessment, detailing job tasks, strengths and weaknesses from the trial work period. Prior to the ESA, Larry had gone through ten interviews without landing a job. Eventually he landed one, but the experience was awful. The ESA was exactly what Larry needed. Rose described Larry’s experience as “night and day”; it changed him. The ESA restored his self-confidence, motivating him to pursue long-term community employment. Larry’s DOR Case Manager will create a personalized plan. It includes the roadmap to community employment.

This is where each person’s path becomes highly unique.

The plan can suggest additional improvements such as vocational training, or learning to navigate the public transportation system. The plan is tailored to the individuals’ capabilities and goals. PRIDE’s Job Coaches are available to answer any questions and guide the individual on their journey. But each journey is different.



When I set out to do primary research for this post, I wanted to know the specific path traveled by PRIDE Industries’ Supported Employment Program participants.

To my surprise, there is no one-way. Each individual’s plan and path is custom-tailored to serve their unique needs. Each path includes skills assessment, identification of suitable employment matches, professional development, training, and on-going job coaching – but each journey is highly individual. No assembly line here.

Like everyone else, people with disabilities want a job, because employment opportunities provide increased self-esteem, sense of purpose, pride, and the dignity that come with a paycheck.

PRIDE Industries Supported Employment Services is currently serving more than 600 individuals with services available throughout Northern California including Auburn, Grass Valley, Placerville, Roseville, Sacramento, South Sacramento, Woodland, Yuba City, Fairfield, and Modesto locations.

To learn more about PRIDE’s programs, click here.


Thank you,

Catalina Figueroa

PRIDE Industries

A Day in the Life of a Disability Case Manager

Pictured left to right: Mara Moore, PRIDE Industries Employee, Thomas Andrews, PRIDE Industries Case Manager and Counselor.

Pictured left to right: Mara Mooney, PRIDE Industries Employee, and Thomas Andrews, PRIDE Industries Case Manager and Counselor.

Since 1966, PRIDE Industries’ goal has been to create meaningful work for people with disabilities—and in the process, help individuals rise above them. PRIDE’s founding members were on to something big: When people are nourished by the power of purpose, their spirits soar, their talents blossom…and their disabilities disappear.

48 years later and nearly 5,000 strong; PRIDE’s mission continues to fuel our efforts. No matter what role we perform at PRIDE, together we strive to – create jobs for people with disabilities. Like everyone else, people with disabilities have strengths and challenges. Our structured approach provides a support system that includes Job Coaches, Case Managers/Counselors, and Supervisors who understand each person’s disability and are able to help with their day-to-day challenges.

Renee Shoaf, PRIDE Industries Case Manager at FOSSAC in San Diego, shares a bit about her position here:

There is no easy way to describe a typical day in the life of a disability counselor; each day is different and unpredictable.

The challenges a disability case manager encounters are diverse in nature and vary in complexity. A day at work may include helping an employee apply for a discounted bus pass, explaining different health insurance options, or coaching an individual on appropriate workplace behavior.  

As a counselor serving individuals with disabilities, I wear many different hats and need to switch them sometimes at a moment’s notice. My hats include educator, influencer, resource specialist, advocate, trusted advisor, conflict mediator, “psychologist,” and even “den mother” on some days.

The niftiest thing about working for PRIDE Industries is that all of the employees I collaborate with are allowed “do-overs.” PRIDE provides a safety net in a society that – far too often – passes judgment based on superficial appearances. Aside from behavior that is egregious or malicious to the point where it endangers someone’s safety, employees understand that they may receive a ‘get out of jail free’ pass on an initial indiscretion and have ample space to learn, grow, and make positive changes. At PRIDE, we encourage the development of individuals and understand that mistakes will be made. Like everyone else, each person with disabilities has different learning styles, and their disability can affect the way information is processed or retained. Reminders and repeated instructions are bountiful in our environment, as such they are not perceived as a burden or impediment to accomplishing the assigned tasks.

Recently, I had an employee escorted off the premises due to an inappropriate act. In this case, my role entailed referring the individual for assessment and preparing documentation based on the findings to help a third-party entity evaluate whether this person could be granted a second chance. Indeed, the individual was granted a second chance. Despite the incident, it turned out to be a gratifying experience for all involved when we were able to reinstate the individual back to work.

Unfortunately, outside factors affect our job, which calls for my “messenger of bad news” hat. Because our site is based on a government contract, the work we perform depends on the funding we receive, which can create instability and risk. For example, when the government shutdown in the fall of 2013 happened, I had to explain how this affected us, and what this meant to some of our employees who understandably worried about their jobs. If you’ve ever had to make sense of something that is complicated and with many layers, perhaps you can appreciate the degree of difficulty this entailed. 

Nonetheless, the most important part of my job at that time was to be a realist, yet a hopeful optimist to someone whose dream of being self-reliant has been finally fulfilled through their job at PRIDE Industries. At the end of the day, we’re all powered by purpose. On behalf of all the staff working for PRIDE, regardless of our respective roles, I believe we all agree that we are very fortunate to be collaborating on such a wonderful mission – to create jobs for people with disabilities!