National Foster Care Month

May is National Foster Care Month, an opportunity to create awareness and encourage individuals to get involved in the lives of these youth – through mentorship, employment, volunteering and other ways.

Growing up always presents a unique set of challenges, especially when making the transition to adulthood. For the more than 400,000 youths in the U.S. foster care system, the following obstacles can seem insurmountable, such as getting that first job, a driver’s license and learning money management skills without a good support network.

PRIDE Industries is proud to help young adults in, and emancipating from the foster care system develop independence and self-sufficiency skills. PRIDE’s Youth Services and Internship Programs provide support and guidance to teens, connecting them to internships and jobs in the community while helping them overcome other obstacles to employment. This success is made possible by generous donations to PRIDE Industries Foundation.

Nellie’s Story:

Nellie is a participant in PRIDE Industries Youth Services and Internship Program. With PRIDE’s help, Nellie has successfully held a job, and has made many positive changes despite the great challenges she faced. She graciously shared her story with us.

Growing up in a dysfunctional family, Nellie lacked support and positive role models. This environment led her to engage in an unhealthy lifestyle; as a young teen, she got involved with gangs and drugs. To help turn her life around, she was admitted to a group home specializing in rehabilitation in the Sacramento, CA region, at the age of 14.

Despite her efforts to maintain sobriety and get her life back on track, Nellie’s attempts failed, twice. “Even though it was a different location, it was the same story,” says Nellie. “I got involved with the wrong crowd and drugs, again. Both times, I just wasn’t ready to change.”

“I never thought I would ever finish high school, let alone make it to age 16.”

Fortunately, Nellie connected with Koinonia Home for Teens, a highly structured group home that provides clinical treatment to chemically dependent youth ages 13-18. Often, Koinonia is the last hope for teens. The group home ended up being just what she needed; at age 15, Nellie made significant strides toward a brighter future. “Having the proper structure and discipline at Koinonia helped me change habits and start living a healthier and positive life,” says Nellie.

It was at Koinonia where Nellie connected with PRIDE Industries. PRIDE’s Youth Services job developers act as mentors to teens in the recovery program. Job developers help youth bridge skills from adolescence to adulthood.

Recovery happens in phases at Koinonia. During phase two, teens are allowed to seek community employment. Nellie’s commitment to her recovery and good standing in the program, gained her a recommendation to PRIDE’s Youth Internship program, in 2016.

The internship placement proved to be successful, Nellie currently works alongside colleagues with disabilities on PRIDE’s contract manufacturing and fulfillment division, packaging items for customers such as packing tea and toys. “I’m proud of my accomplishments at my job,” says Nellie. “This has taught me patience and teamwork, and I have learned skills needed for my future.” As a result of excellent work ethic, Nellie was able to extend the duration her internship.

The transformation has also been beneficial in other parts of Nellie’s life. Once far behind in school, she is now a high school junior who enjoys studying English and is set to graduate early. Nellie also credits sports with helping her stay on a positive track. Her favorites are football, soccer, and basketball – sports where she can apply the teamwork skills learned on the job.

“Nellie has made remarkable progress, and I am proud of how far she has come,” says Kenneth Avila, a Youth Services Job Developer. “She has learned a lot about how to communicate and positively connect with others.”

Nellie is a smart and strong young woman. Once she graduates from high school, she plans on exploring different career options, including the marketing field. For now, we are proud to have her as an intern at PRIDE and look forward to seeing her future accomplishments.

Building a Foundation for a Successful Future: National Foster Care Month

PRIDE Industries _ Jacque

Spring is an exciting time of the year for many teens: graduation and independence are right around the corner. However, for many teens transitioning out of foster care, this juncture presents a huge set of challenges. There are some 400,000 teens and youths in the U.S. foster care system. Many youths leave the system without the supports needed to help them navigate through early adulthood. Many lose their way when they try to make this transition. It’s like walking a high-wire without a safety net.

Jacque, 17 years old, is a recent graduate of PRIDE Industries’ Youth Services Program. PRIDE’s Program provides support and guidance to teens in the foster care system and helps them overcome obstacles to employment. The goal is to help prepare them for independence and self-sufficiency. Jacque faced many challenges early in life. With PRIDE’s help, she made the leap and graciously shared her story with us.

Jacque’s Story

Jacque is one of thirteen siblings. She was placed in foster care at a very young age. Without proper guidance and support in her life, her teenage years had a troubled beginning. Jacque began abusing alcohol and entered into a pattern of unhealthy relationships. After a bad experience with a foster home, she was referred to Koinonia Home for Teens, a highly structured group home that provides clinical treatment to chemically dependent youths ages 13-18.

While at Koinonia, Jacque was given the opportunity to work on her recovery and continue her high school education. Koinonia referred Jacque to the PRIDE Youth Services KEYS program where she began to work closely with Mindy Tubra, Rehab Services Manager and Andy Palmer, Job Developer.  PRIDE Youth Services taught many of her after school classes where she learned diverse and important lessons about life. In addition to teaching classes, Andy helped Jacque prepare a resume and job applications, and train for interviews. After doing well at Koinonia, and completing her pre-employment preparation, Jacque was given the opportunity to participate in a paid internship.

Consistent care and treatment helped Jacque learn a new way of living life.  When she first arrived at age 16, she had difficulty expressing her emotions and did not get along with others. Through therapy and the classes taught by PRIDE Youth Services, Jacque learned social norms and boundaries.  “I have learned what is appropriate to say at the right place and time,” says Jacque.  “I am also able to appreciate when people are trying to help me.” Andy tells us, “Jacque worked hard to get where she is today and has made significant progress.” The Youth Services team is very proud of Jacque and the hard work she has done to change.

Jacque started a paid internship at PRIDE Industries in October 2014. Paid internships are made possible through generous donations to PRIDE Industries Foundation. Her typical day work day included assembling toys or packaging tea. However, for Jacque, the best part of the job was socializing with her co-workers. “I was nervous about working on the production line – but now I love being part of the team!” At PRIDE, Jacque works with a team largely comprised of individuals the organization serves – people with disabilities. “It’s amazing to see what my co-workers with disabilities are capable of.” With her bright smile, Jacque made many friends and became a respected member of her work team.

Outside of work, college is the most important part of Jacque’s life. Even though she was originally behind on high school credits, Jacque worked hard and was able to graduate high school a semester early. She is now studying Sociology as a major and is currently doing very well with almost all A’s! Jacque is also looking forward to trying out for the college volleyball team and taking dance classes in hip hop, jazz, and ballet.

After college, Jacque has big aspirations for her future. She plans on transferring to a four-year university and then applying to law school to become either a civil rights lawyer or a criminal prosecutor. “I want to become an attorney to help kids like me to make the most out of their lives,” says Jacque.  At PRIDE Industries, we are proud to help individuals like Jacque build the foundation for their future lives – and we wish her the very best!