An Opportunity for Advancement

pride-industries-alberto-03-_-fort-bliss

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.

A Positive Attitude

pride-industries-anthony-2017

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!

Saluting Those Who Serve: Ron Adams

pride-industries-_-ronleyadams_editedRonly “Ron” Adams grew up in the small community of Dothan, Alabama. After graduating high school, he worked in the healthcare field. Although he earned a paycheck, Ron found himself longing to be part of a bigger calling. Deciding to serve his country, Ron enlisted in the Marine Corps in 2006.

Ron soon moved to North Carolina for basic training. These preparations were both mentally and physically challenging but made him ready for the next step. When volunteers were asked to deploy to Iraq in 2007, Ron raised his hand. “The attacks of 9/11 were still fresh in my mind and heart, and I wanted to defend my country,” says Ron. “I was nervous but excited; this is what I signed up for.”

In the Marine Corps, Ron served as an E3 Lance Corporal. In this role, he drove in a convoy for long trips across the country, clearing roads of IEDs (improvised explosive devices). This work was dangerous but necessary; these weapons were responsible for a majority of the deaths to service members in Iraq.

“While traveling out with the convoys, we got to meet and be friendly with the civilians. I passed out candy and muffins to the kids,” says Ron. “It was here where I observed how much freedom we have in the United States. We have so much to be grateful for.”

After serving a one-year tour in Iraq, Ron returned home to Alabama. Even though he had returned with a greater appreciation for life in America, transitioning to a civilian life proved to be difficult. “It took a while for me to adjust; I sometimes thought that it would be easier to re-deploy,” says Ron. “However, with time, I began to heal.” With the winding down of his military career in 2010, Ron began searching for a new career path.

Finding employment turned out to be another obstacle to civilian life. Before coming to PRIDE Industries, Ron worked a series of jobs with no benefits. A friend recommended that he apply for opportunities at PRIDE’s contract at Fort Rucker, Alabama. Ron got in touch with Stephany Marshall, PRIDE’s Rehabilitation Counselor at Fort Rucker. She recommended him for a Maintenance Trades Helper position, and Ron was hired in 2014.

Due to his hard work and drive to succeed, Ron excelled in his new job. Wanting to advance, he decided to go for a pest control position. For several months, Ron diligently studied and passed the tests to earn his pest control license and gained the promotion. This position came with not only a higher paycheck but also greater independence and satisfaction in his work.

“After leaving the military, I missed being in the Marines. This feeling has continued, but working for PRIDE makes me feel at home,” says Ron. “My job on base gives me a sense of comradery and an opportunity to support the military.”

Recently, Ron purchased a home and a new vehicle and is resettling into civilian life with his wife and three children. “With this job position, I have been able to help my family out financially while continuing to participate in military life. I could not imagine being anywhere else.”

From all of us at PRIDE Industries, thank you, Ron, for your service and contributions to our country. We are proud to have you as a colleague.

Saluting Those Who Serve: Javier Heredia

pride-industries-_-javier-h_edited

“I have always wanted to be a soldier and serve my country.” Following in the footsteps of his father, grandfather, and great-grandfather, Javier Heredia enlisted in the US Army as soon as he graduated from high school in El Paso, Texas. He served from 2010-2015, including a deployment in Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan.

In Afghanistan, Javier worked as an SPC 13F Forward Observer. In this demanding position, the soldier keeps track of the positions of both friendly troops and opposing forces. They also go behind enemy lines to keep track of movements and to provide the right coordinates for fire. Javier completed his tour of duty in 2015 and returned to his hometown where he was stationed at Fort Bliss, TX. Because of his disability, he was medically discharged and retired from the Army.

After retirement, Javier had no source of income or a job. “I would send in application over application without luck. I filed for unemployment and food stamps just to make sure I had money and food to support my wife and daughters,” says Javier. After receiving no offers of employment, he became even more anxious about his situation. Javier contemplated pursuing a security guard job until he received a call from for an interview with PRIDE Industries. Two weeks later, he was officially employed.

In March 2016, Javier joined the PRIDE Industries team at Fort Bliss, as a Property and Fleet Clerk, where PRIDE provides facilities support services through the federal AbilityOne Program. Javier helps operations run smoothly on base by managing tool and equipment inventory, property management and vehicle maintenance. “I could not ask for a better job. Supporting a military base has helped create a smoother transition to civilian life” says Javier.  “Even though I am still learning, I always feel like a respected member of the team; everyone has an important part to contribute to PRIDE’s mission.”

With a steady job, Javier now aims to buy a house. His long-term plan is to attend college and study military history to become a teacher. Meanwhile, he would like to keep learning new skills through his job at PRIDE and expand his knowledge of his trade. “PRIDE has supported me with excellent training and motivated me to succeed,” says Javier. “It is a great company. Working here has had a very positive effect on my life.”

We thank you, Javier, for your service. PRIDE Industries is proud to support veterans such as Javier through their transition to civilian life while pursuing their careers and dreams.

Can You Believe It?

PRIDE Industries _ Charlie02

Charlie’s day begins at three o’clock in the morning, a time when most of us are still asleep. While the moon is still shining, Charlie prepares to make a two-mile walk to catch the first light rail train. He then catches a bus which connects him to a PRIDE Industries shuttle. After a four hour journey, Charlie is finally delivered to work by seven in the morning. These are the lengths that Charlie goes through, twice a day, because he loves his job.

Charles “Charlie” Curtner, 65, has been working in the PRIDE Industries cafeteria since 2001. He is a vital member of the cafeteria team. His job requires him to clean tables, restock refrigerated beverages and food items, greet customers, and be a backup cashier when needed. Charlie’s work ethic, attention to detail, love for people, and his sense of humor have helped him be successful on the job.

Charlie’s brother introduced him to PRIDE in 1993. He applied for a dishwasher position at a PRIDE military base contract. “You’re hired!” Charlie recalls excitedly. This was only the starting point for Charlie.

Before PRIDE, Charlie had worked for years as a dishwasher in the community. Once at PRIDE, he held a variety of packaging, assembly, and order fulfillment jobs. Still, Charlie wanted more for himself. With support, Charlie found his place with PRIDE’s cafeteria team.

“Charlie is a very friendly person that always greets people and welcomes them to the cafeteria with a warm smile,” says Olivia Jones, Charlie’s supervisor. “He is very dedicated, hardworking, and is always willing to take the extra step to make sure he is doing his job well.”

Charlie has a disability but prefers to focus on his abilities. He lives independently and has for most of his adult life. Charlie does share his home with his cat named Sam, who was abandoned as a kitten, and named after Yosemite Sam, the cartoon character. And while Charlie loves cartoons, if you ask about retirement his response is: “Uh-uh, stay home and watch the idiot box and those goofy shows, oh no way! Wouldn’t that be boring?”

Charlie is very dedicated to his work, a place where his abilities are recognized. At PRIDE he has made friends and can be himself. He finds purpose in his job and often asks his supervisor: “What would you do without me?” Olivia’s response is, “I am not sure, but we do not want to find out.”

Never shy to share his life or funny side, Charlie often begins a conversation with, “Can you believe it?” He then proudly follows up with, “People want to know my secret,” as to how he remains youthful and in excellent health. We still do not know his secret.

While Charlie is no spring chicken, as the saying goes, he does not let age slow him down. Although his secret has not been revealed, he may have given us a clue: keep moving. Charlie’s drive comes from working. “Just keep working,” he says. “Who wants to retire? I have been here 23 years.”

Thank you, Charlie, for your dedication to PRIDE Industries and the cafeteria. We are so glad you are part of the PRIDE family.

A Second Chance

PRIDE Industries _ Diana L 01

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.”

PRIDE Industries_Diana L 02For 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.”

PRIDE Industries’ Employment Services Internship Program

PRIDE’S INTERNSHIP PROGRAM

Beginning a new career or re-entering the workforce is difficult for anyone. Individuals with disabilities, including veterans, often have an even harder time finding employment – and not for a lack of desire or willingness to work.

People with disabilities face unemployment at a rate four times greater than the general population. Veterans with disabilities often face a wide range of challenges, including translating military service skills into the civilian workplace.

PRIDE Industries’ Employment Services Internship Program provides a path for people with disabilities, including veterans to get their foot in the door or a fresh start in a new career. As a nonprofit social enterprise, PRIDE is nationally recognized for its expertise in empowering people to attain meaningful employment and increased independence despite the challenges they face. PRIDE serves individuals with a range of disabilities, including physical disabilities, sensory impairments, developmental and intellectual disabilities, and mental illness.

PRIDE’s internship program offers up to 250 hours of paid work experience within PRIDE or with a community employer. Through the internship, individuals get hands-on experience and gain soft skills while working in a safe and supportive environment. For people with little to no work experience, it provides a good resume builder.

In 2014, PRIDE provided 50 paid internship totaling more than 6,000 hours. The internship program is funded by generous donations made to PRIDE Industries Foundation. Many interns have achieved full-time employment. Following are a few stories of interns who successfully made the transition from intern to full-time employee.

SEAN ARTHUR

PRIDE Industries_Internship program_ SeanSean served in the Marine Corps from 2012 – 2014 as an Infantry Assaultman. While serving, Sean took friendly fire from a rocket launcher. “I now suffer from PTSD, partial hearing loss, two herniated discs in my lower back and a piece of metal in my knee,” says Sean.

When he returned home and healed, Sean started looking for employment. For seven months, Sean searched for opportunities. Despite his sacrifice for our country, Sean found it impossible to get a foot in the door to begin a new career.

His luck changed when he met with Frank Goehringer, PRIDE’s Veterans Liaison and Chris Chau, Referral Specialist. “They showed me all the opportunities that PRIDE had to offer with their internship program, and told me about their mission of hiring veterans and people with disabilities,” says Sean.

In September 2014, Sean began his paid internship with PRIDE’s manufacturing department. By December 2014, Sean was hired as a full-time production trainer at PRIDE Industries.

BARBARA BORIS

PRIDE Industries_Internship program_ BarbaraDisability can affect anyone at any time through illness or injury. In 2011, Barbara was injured on the job. Her employer refused to make accommodations for her disability and let her go.

Determined to find a new career, Barbara reached out to the Department of Rehabilitation. While attending a job club session, Barbara connected with Debbie Tomlinson, a job developer at PRIDE Industries.

Debbie and Barbara worked on improving her resume, cover letter and practiced interviewing skills while helping with the job search. Barbara’s enthusiasm for helping others was hard to miss; Debbie knew she would be a great fit at PRIDE. Debbie arranged an interview for a paid clerical internship.

In July 2014, Barbara began working at PRIDE as an intern. A few months later, she was hired as a permanent employee. As a Clerical Assistant, Barbara provides support to PRIDE’s Integrated Facilities Services business operations department.

JOSHUA BEST

PRIDE Industries_Internship program_ JoshuaIn 2013, Joshua graduated from college with a degree in computer information systems. Many college graduates have a difficult time finding that first job. Josh’s efforts were further complicated by the fact that he is Autistic.

Eager to find opportunity, Josh connected with the local Department of Rehabilitation and they referred him to PRIDE Industries. Soon after, Josh began working with PRIDE’s Employment Services. A job developer, and coach assisted Josh with interview training and job skills development.

After a few months of searching, Josh landed a paid internship with PRIDE’s IT department. “It was awesome!” says Josh. He became part of PRIDE’s technical support center.

Hard work and dedication paid off; recently Joshua became a permanent full-time PRIDE Industries employee in the IT department.

For more about Joshua’s Journey to PRIDE, click here.

HOW TO GET REFERRED

Individuals seeking services are encouraged to visit PRIDE’s website at prideindustries.com/people/how-to-get-referred. To assist parents, caregivers and individuals seeking supports and services, PRIDE has a dedicated referral specialist with vast knowledge of social services, our partners and of course, PRIDE.

Our specialist also coordinates PRIDE’s internship program referrals. So far this year, she has helped 17 individuals gain paid internships.

For more information or referrals to PRIDE’s internship program, please email our Referral Program Coordinator at referrals@prideindustries.com.