Beyond the Stats: The Need

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October is National Disability Employment Awareness Month (NDEAM), bringing the issue of employment for people with disabilities to light.

One in five Americans has a disability; more than 57 million people.  Individuals with disabilities represent the single largest and most diverse minority group; they face unemployment at nearly four times the rate of the general population. This stubborn statistic is not due to lack of interest or skills – but lack of opportunity. Unfortunately, not all employers realize the benefits that people with disabilities bring to the workplace. Unemployed people with disabilities represent a major, untapped source of qualified and motivated job candidates.

At PRIDE Industries, we shift the focus from disabilities to abilities, creating meaningful employment for individuals with a wide range of disabilities. Through training, job skills development, coaching and placement, individuals with disabilities – including veterans, youth leaving the foster care system, and those with developmental, intellectual, mental health, sensory or physical obstacles – can find success.

Employment success leads to other benefits:  increased dignity, confidence, and self-reliance for the individual – and peace of mind for their family and friends. Businesses win as well, with loyal and dedicated employees who approach their jobs with passion and enthusiasm. When individuals, families and businesses win – whole communities benefit.

At PRIDE, we know that a disability does not mean inability.  For more than 48 years, PRIDE Industries has been preparing people with disabilities for employment and more independent lives. PRIDE helps people move from dependence to greater independence with person-centered services including assessments, job skills development, training, placement, transportation, and on-going supports to ensure long-term success. We place people in employment in PRIDE’s own businesses, and support more than 450 individuals annually in community employment. But the need is so much greater.

How can you make a difference for individuals with disabilities?

  • If you are a business person, speak to our expert staff about hiring employees with disabilities in your business
  • Hire PRIDE and its employees for your business service needs
  • Support businesses that employ people with disabilities

Together we can change lives…one job at a time.

 

Congratulations Chance!

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In the first few years of life, hearing is a critical part of a child’s social, emotional, and cognitive development. Even a mild or partial hearing loss can affect a child’s ability to speak and understand language.

Hearing loss is a common birth defect, affecting about 1 to 3 out of every 1,000 babies. In some cases, hearing loss is caused by things like infections, trauma, and damaging noise levels, and the problem does not emerge until later in childhood.

Hearing is critical to speech and language development, communication, and learning. Hearing loss can cause delays in the development of receptive and expressive communication skills (speech and language); language deficit resulting in challenged academic achievement; social isolation and poor self-esteem. All of this can have an impact on vocational choices.

CHANCE FINDS SUCCESS AT PRIDE

Chance Martin has been hearing impaired since he was a child. He attended the Oregon School for the Deaf in High School where he excelled and participated in sports including varsity football. He attended junior college in Folsom, CA and has had some retail experience. He reads lips and makes good use of technology and signing to communicate, but he found both communication and right fit challenging in the job market.

Chance was referred to PRIDE Industries where he began working in contract packaging and assembly. He earned a paid internship through PRIDE Industries Foundation, and was tapped for a part time opportunity providing call center service support on one of PRIDE’s contracts where he truly proved his value. Like many young adults, he takes to technology and systems quickly. Without hearing distractions, he was outperforming his peers and processing upwards of 150 service orders a shift. His workstation was physically located among our team members working on the Administrative Office of the Courts (AOC) project. They took notice of his work ethic and were clearly impressed with his results.

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PRIDE Industries Administrative Office of the Courts (AOC) staff

When the call center work ended, PRIDE’s team at AOC swooped in. On Monday, March 3, 2014, Chance became a full-time employee of PRIDE Industries, providing administrative support to the AOC team including data entry and document preparation among other duties. His technical skills are a huge plus for this data driven team – and he clearly fits right in!

Successes like Chance’s do not happen without great people behind the scenes. John Edwards, Job Coach, Tammie Weseman, Production Supervisor, Chris Schau, Case Manager, Diana Erickson, Rehab Services Manager, and Tony Capasso, Regional Contracts Manager. All played a role in creating the opportunity for Chance to shine.

Congratulations Chance! You earned it!

Spotlight On: Mitchell Worthington

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Getting on your feet while transitioning from high school has never been easy; finding that first “real” job, navigating through college courses, or living on your own has always presented unique challenges. However, for youths aged 18-21 on the autism spectrum, getting that first start can be even more daunting.

Mitchell Worthington is a young adult employed at PRIDE Industries’ Roseville facility with Asperger’s Syndrome (AS). Asperger’s is an autism spectrum disorder (ASD), a distinct group of complex developmental disabilities. Symptoms can range from very mild to severe, including difficulty with social behavior, communication deficits, fixated interests, and/or repetitive behavior. Studies have shown that continued employment can help ease AS symptoms and improve functioning in daily living. Furthermore, individuals with AS can make excellent employees due to their careful attention to detail and quality of work, and are often underutilized resources.

FINDING A PATH

After graMitchell Worthington_edited_blogduating high school, Mitchell started looking for employment opportunities. His case worker at Alta Regional Center referred him to PRIDE Industries; he became an employee in October 2011. Mitchell was first placed in the electronics department, but he aspired to find a position that would better suit his interests. With help from his case manager Justin Underwood, Mitchell explored different job options. He was placed in PRIDE’s shipping fulfilment operation, where he helped to pull orders shipped domestically and internationally. Mitchell thrived in the position. “It is these expanding opportunities at PRIDE that keeps me interested,” he says. “It allows me to learn and grow.” Justin describes him as a “real self-starter.”

When a landscaping position opened up at our Roseville facility, Mitchell stepped up to a new challenge. He arrives at the PRIDE campus at the crack of dawn, Monday through Friday. Despite the early start time, Mitchell has proved to be a reliable and motivated employee. In his new position he trims trees and shrubs and helps to keep the grounds in impressive shape, providing a beautiful welcome to guests and customers. He feels proud of what he and his co-workers have accomplished. “You wouldn’t think it…but man this place needed some cleanup,” Mitchell proclaims. “This should be good for business.”

He will soon have the opportunity to provide landscaping services at other PRIDE locations and is being trained on new landscaping tools and equipment.

When asked to describe himself, Mitchell says that he is “just like any other guy my age…I like shooting, hiking, and being outdoors.” Like many other young 20-somethings, Mitchell is starting to plan his future. With some job experience on his resume, he was able to get a part-time job at a local retail store. He currently lives with his family, but has set a goal of finding his own place and living independently. Mitchell is also enrolling in community college classes for the summer semester, and plans to explore a major in either mechanical or chemical engineering.

PRIDE is proud to employ and encourage people like Mitchell. Often, individuals with ASD just need the proper supports and a chance to prove themselves in employment. For Mitchell, employment provides the path to increased independence, self-sufficiency, self-esteem, and involvement in the community.

You’ve Always Had The Power

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April is National Autism Awareness Month; we set aside this month to highlight the success of our employees. Meet Mason Carroll, a young adult working at PRIDE Industries’ Fort Polk facilities contract in Louisiana.

Mason began working as a Grounds Maintenance Laborer in early 2013. The opportunity to work for PRIDE Industries at Ft. Polk marks the beginning of Mason’s professional career – his first job. Although change and unfamiliarity are a challenge for Mason, he is aware of the obstacles it creates and he gets help to face them head on. Mason is quiet and extremely introverted, unless he is familiar with his surroundings. Despite his challenges, management had recognized Mason’s commitment, professionalism, and great work ethics. After completion of the probationary period, Mason became eligible for a promotion but he did not feel comfortable changing his work environment. After turning down the opportunity for a promotion Mason decided, he wanted more for himself. With the support of his counselor, job coach, and manager – Mason applied for the job promotion.

Mason is on the autism spectrum – he is diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome. Autism symptoms can range from mild to severe and can be difficult to manage. Traits can include difficulties in social environments, communication, and behavioral challenges. One of his challenges is adapting to change.

Convincing Mason to take the next step in his professional career was not easy. After months of encouragement and support, Mason applied for and received the promotion to Maintenance Trades Helper in the HVAC department at PRIDE Industries – Ft. Polk contract.

To those who work with Mason, it is obvious he is skilled, dependable and an asset to PRIDE; however, he had to overcome his own personal challenges before taking the next step. Nearly a year later, he is happy with his promotion and continuing to adjust to the change. “Everyone in his shop loves him and always gives him compliments,” Sonja Matthews, Mason’s counselor says. “He is really a great young man and an asset to PRIDE.”

The video below is a “beautiful duo from a father and daughter, we hear about how a family fought autism and came winning. A strong message of hope and fighting invisibility.”

 

PRIDE’s structured approach provides a support system that includes job trainers, case manager/counselors, and supervisors who understand each person’s disability and are able to help with their day-to-day challenges.

We are so happy for you; keep up the great work Mason!

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:  info@prideindustries.com.

Spotlight On: PRIDE’s Supported Employment Services

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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 INTAKE INTERVIEW

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.

 

THE JOB CLUB

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.

 

NETWORKING: LUNCH

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!

 

THE EXIT INTERVIEW

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.

 

WHERE I ARRIVED

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

35 Years with PRIDE

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Recently, Jill Heifrin celebrated her 35th anniversary with PRIDE Industries! To commemorate this milestone, she was presented with a small party (complete with cake of course!).  Her fellow co-workers along with, VP of Operations, Manufacturing & Logistics Services Tony Lopez, General Electronics Manager Tracy Weatherfield, Production Manager Steve Hackett, and PRIDE’s President/CEO Mike Ziegler were all there to join the celebration.

Jill started her career with PRIDE as an electronics department employee in 1979. Back in those days, the department had fewer than 30 employees. Today, PRIDE employs and serves more than 4,900 people, including more than 2,800 people with disabilities throughout California and 13 other states. Over the last 35 years, PRIDE has grown dramatically, but Jill’s enthusiasm for the work she does and her outlook on life have remained the same.

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At PRIDE’s Roseville campus, Jill is responsible for auditing consignment kits before they are returned to our customers and organizing “freshly baked” circuit boards onto trays, getting them ready for inspection. The baking process is the final step within the Surface Mount Technology (SMT) line. Once all components are electronically placed onto printed circuit boards, they are fused together and secured in place by a high heat oven. A conveyor belt moves the circuit boards directly to Jill’s station where she prepares them for inspection. Jill is very self-motivated and does a great job. “She comes in, finds her jobs, and gets them done. At the end of the day, you can tell she is proud of her accomplishments,” says Production Manager Steve Hackett.

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Outside of work, Jill attended adult classes at the Orange Grove School for adults with disabilities. There she became proficient at typing and using a computer and now is able to use her own personal laptop at home. In addition, Jill learned how to garden and has become an expert at growing tomato plants.

Along with Jill’s professional excellence, she is well known around the Roseville campus for her friendly manner and kindness. Steve Twitchell, VP of MLS Operations recalls, “I first met Jill 20 years ago when I started working in the electronics department. Her ever smiling face and joyous personality would always make my day better.” When asked about Jill, her case manager Justin Underwood said, “Jill is one of the kindest souls that I have had the privilege of working with. She is always in good spirits and puts her best effort forward in all that she does!” High praises continue, Rehab Services Manager Steve Ross describes Jill as “one of the most hard working, friendly, well liked employees at PRIDE Roseville!!!”

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Congratulations to Jill for reaching this impressive milestone!   We are very glad to have her here at PRIDE Industries Roseville campus. When asked about her future with PRIDE, Jill says “I’m not planning on retiring anytime soon!”

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!

Spotlight On: Cynthia Baca

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Being a recruiter for PRIDE Industries requires some special skills. Cynthia Baca is a Recruiter for PRIDE at Fort Bliss in El Paso, Texas, focusing on individuals qualified under the AbilityOne Program. In an area that is 81% Hispanic, you might expect her to be fluent in Spanish (she is). What you may not know is that she is also fluent in American Sign Language (ASL), making Cynthia trilingual! 

In addition to support of individuals with disabilities applying to and employed by PRIDE, Cynthia attends numerous job fairs, conferences and other community events representing our organization. Given the number of hearing impaired employees at PRIDE’s Ft. Bliss site, she also joins four other job coaches each morning to provide interpretation of the day’s instructions to employees in each of our trade’s shops.

Dedicated and always willing to pitch in, Cynthia lent her support to PRIDE’s commissary start up at Kaneohe Bay, HI. Given the four hour time difference between El Paso and Hawaii, she was up early and late helping to screen potential employees and supporting them through the application process and sometimes complex qualification requirements.

Most recently, Cynthia  along with a rehab counselor arranged an internship within the IT Department, for an El Paso Community College student with disabilities to intern at PRIDE at Ft. Bliss. To read more about JC’s story click here.

And when we’re looking to shine a spotlight on fellow employees – Cynthia is always there with a suggestion and a deep understanding of each individual she supports.

Great job, Cynthia!

We’re proud to have you on our PRIDE team!

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

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Jonathan Soberanes, 28, began working at PRIDE Industries approximately one year ago. As a Materials Handler he uses an RF Scanner device to locate, scan, and label customer parts stored in PRIDE’s Roseville warehouse. The aisles, hundreds of feet high, seem to be bursting full of packaged items. Each shelf has a barcode, which holds specific customer parts. Once the correct shelf and part are identified, Jonathan scans the item, picks it up, and places it on a cart. Then, a label is printed once the scanner confirms the pick, which helps track the item and inventory management. Once an order is fulfilled, he takes the package back to the shipping area for transport to an awaiting consumer. He does this hundreds of times each day.

Many workers might become restless with the repetitive nature of these tasks; but Jonathan is not just any worker. He is an individual with intellectual disability, who – until coming to PRIDE – worked in isolation as the overnight custodian of a retail company. His grandmother had a sense that the job was not helping his professional and personal development, so she inquired about job opportunities at PRIDE.

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Jonathan began his journey with PRIDE working on the shipping floor. He excelled in that position, and expressed an interest in learning more. “Initially, he picked orders from the production floor bins so we could monitor his work,” says his supervisor and coach, Matthew Weiss. “After observing his excellent work ethic, we added him to our warehouse team.”

PRIDE’s manufacturing solutions provide jobs for individuals like Jonathan through contract packaging, assembly, fulfillment and logistics services. With the support of job coaches and case managers, individuals can develop professionally and personally.

Countless times a day, Jonathan fulfills orders. As he walks the aisles in search of parts, he greets friends in the warehouse and jokes with co-workers on the production floor. Jonathan enjoys the camaraderie; something he didn’t have at his previous job.

Jonathan is happily contributing to the department and making friends while developing his skills. “He is reliable, responsible and has maintained great attendance,” says Weiss. “We can count on him every day.”

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Jonathan is not only excelling at work, but in his personal life as well. In addition to his full-time employment at PRIDE, Jonathan is part of a social recreation program for youths with intellectual and developmental disabilities. The group participates in community activities including sporting events, group dinners, day trips, bowling, movies, and more. Participation builds important social skills and helps individuals become more involved in their community.

“Jonathan has grown socially and skills wise while working at PRIDE,” says Steve Ross, Jonathan’s counselor. “He is more assertive and confident; he has really matured.”

At the time of our interview, Jonathan was looking forward to visiting the California State Railroad Museum in Sacramento with his social recreation group.

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Having a job is about more than a paycheck; it improves confidence, self-esteem, creates greater self-sufficiency, and aids in building a rewarding life. We’re glad his grandmother connected him to PRIDE.