Independence – of a Different Kind

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

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

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

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

What is independence?

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

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

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

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


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

Independence Day

Today on Independence Day, we celebrate the independence, freedom, and liberties that were hard-won 241 years ago.

Currently, there is much discussion about what constitutes independence and inclusion of people with disabilities in the workplace. PRIDE Industries’ programs and services promote independence and self-reliance for all individuals with disabilities, including developmental, intellectual, physical, sensory, mental illness and more. Since 1966, our mission, to create jobs for people with disabilities, has expanded opportunities for those most often excluded from employment.

Through our more than 50-year history, PRIDE Industries has proven that employment is essential to an individual’s sense of purpose, dignity, and inclusion. For many individuals, independence and inclusion are achieved through employment, choice and increased self-sufficiency.

From all of us at PRIDE Industries, happy Independence Day.


Independence: An Opportunity for All

American flag outdoors in a meadow on july 4th.

July 4th is Independence Day – a celebration of our nation’s independence. These days, there are many discussions about what constitutes independence and success for people with disabilities. Our programs and services help promote independence and self-reliance of individuals with disabilities.

Through our mission, we serve people with a broad range of disabilities – developmental, intellectual, physical, sensory, mental illness and more. Individuals may be born with a disability or may acquire one through illness or injury – in everyday life, or in combat.

PRIDE supports many definitions of success as unique as the individuals we serve. For some, it is complete freedom from the reliance upon supports and services. For others, it is simply the opportunity to participate and contribute to their community. Meanwhile, the vehicle for accomplishing these unique goals is through employment. An opportunity. A job.

For 50 years, PRIDE’s mission has been creating jobs for people with disabilities. Through our work, we strive to provide opportunities at all skill levels to aid individuals in the achievement of their definition of independence.

Won’t you join PRIDE Industries in creating jobs for people with disabilities?

Contact PRIDE at to learn how your business can employ individuals with disabilities.

From all of us at PRIDE, Happy Independence Day!

Disability Can Happen in The Blink of an Eye

a happy PRIDE Industries employee

Disability does not discriminate; it can affect anyone at any time through illness or injury. Hilary Vail, a PRIDE Industries job coach, was left with a permanent physical disability due to an injury. Overcoming initial, everyday challenges was just the beginning of her life with disability.

Hilary’s life changed in the blink of an eye after taking a fall. Soon after, she was laid off from her job with a local nonprofit. “My life completely changed, and I could not believe it. It was a shock. I did not expect to fall down the stairs.”

As a single mother of two young boys, Caleb (12) and Nate (9), she knew her family was counting on her. Hilary sought vocational and physical rehabilitation to help her overcome the new challenges. While working with the California Department of Rehabilitation (DOR), she decided to go back to school. Hilary enrolled in a health care training program to become a certified billing and coding specialist.

“As a single mom, I needed to provide for my kids,” says Hilary. “I needed to find something with stability and room to advance.” It was easier said than done. After graduation, Hilary found it nearly impossible to land a job in the field without a minimum of six months of hands-on experience. Hilary was devastated. “I kept applying; I even offered to volunteer – and nothing.”

In May 2014, Hilary began working with PRIDE Industries’ Employment Services including attending Job Club meetings. Job Club provides an opportunity for individuals to gain hands-on interviewing and job-seeking practice. Participants learn new skills and receive help in conducting a job search, along with other employment-related training. Hilary was also assigned a PRIDE job developer and job coach to help her in the search.

“After months and months of doing a job search and working with Debbie Tomlinson, a PRIDE job developer, and Brian Edwards, a PRIDE job coach, I began to get discouraged,” says Hilary.

Hilary has significant mobility and physical restrictions due to her disability. There is no surgical cure. Currently, treatment consists of painful cortisone shots and ongoing physical therapy.

Despite her physical limitations, Hilary aspires to lead a typical life and provide for her two boys.

In March 2015, an opportunity became available for Hilary at PRIDE: an internship in the Employment Services Department at PRIDE headquarters.

PRIDE Industries’ Employment Services Internship Program helps individuals with disabilities enter, or re-enter, the workforce. The Program offers up to 250 hours of paid work experience supported by generous donations and grants to PRIDE Industries Foundation. Through the internship, individuals gain resume-building experience while working in a supportive environment.

Hilary excelled in the internship; it was a perfect fit for her skills. Halfway through the Program; a permanent job coach position was offered. Hilary was ecstatic. Finally, this was the opportunity she needed. “I learned so many new skills,” says Hilary. “Meeting new and wonderful people; I could not be happier.”

She became a PRIDE Industries employee in April 2015. “Hilary has learned the skills of job coaching and assessments,” says Debbie. “Hilary is supporting our clients with employment preparation services – just as she did.”

As a job coach, Hilary works with community clients on her caseload. She provides employment support services and helps people with disabilities improve their skills on the job. Some of the individuals she supports were in Job Club with her. She finds that having an established relationship is an advantage in assisting them, however, for Hilary it feels natural. “I love being able to help,” says Hilary. “That is something that was in me all along, and I like it.” Currently, Hilary has six individuals on her caseload.

Hilary no longer relies on others for financial help. “My kids and I were able to get our own place. I get excited paying my rent,” says Hilary. “To me, it means freedom. I can do it all on my own.”

Stories like Hilary’s remind us that life can change in the blink of an eye. Importantly, we are reminded that we have the power to control our own destiny when provided with support and opportunity. We’re glad that Hilary found her place at PRIDE.

Looking Beyond Disability

PRIDE Industries _ Leon E_02

“There is no greater disability in society, than the inability to see a person as more.” – Robert M. Hensel

At a young age, Veries Leon Echols (“Leon”) exhibited difficulty with reading, writing, and math skills. His challenges included auditory sequencing, memory, and comprehension. Diagnosed with a learning disability, he was told that he would never be able to support himself or live independently. His confidence already shaken, he was traumatized by criticism and teasing endured as a child and teen. Fear or ridicule left him incapable of speaking or reading aloud in public.

Leon grew up in a family of musicians. In 2002, he took an interest himself. He began with the wind flute, but listening to a work of composer, John Williams led him to the violin – his current passion.

Music can connect people in ways that words cannot. PRIDE Industries can connect people in ways that traditional businesses often do not.

Leon joined PRIDE Industries in 2002. He began by working on PRIDE’s food service contract at Travis Air Force Base (AFB). From there, he went to work on PRIDE’s housing contract, eventually landing a position on the landscaping crew. The road was a little bumpy, but Leon has found a good fit in his current position as a grounds maintenance laborer.

With the support of his manager and team members, Leon has learned how to operate the landscaping equipment and excel in his job. Most importantly, he has gained valuable confidence in his abilities. This confidence manifests itself in public speaking, serving as a crew leader, volunteering as a martial arts instructor, and even learning and speaking some foreign languages.

PRIDE Industries _ Leon violinDuring his breaks, he can often be heard practicing the violin that is with him always. Music has become another form of self-expression that Leon now shares freely. In fact, last summer, our aspiring musician caught the attention of a local publication.

With coaching, support and opportunity, Leon has surpassed the limiting expectations placed on him as a child. His confidence and passion for expressing himself through his music have led to a transformation and a level of independence no one expected him to achieve. Today, he has a job, lives alone in his apartment with some support, and freely shares his talents with others.

“Being employed with PRIDE Industries has helped me overcome many personal fears that once held me back,” says Leon.

He works hard at leaving the trauma of his childhood behind. “Working at PRIDE, I have learned about the importance of teamwork. I have learned a lot about responsibility, and I have been given stability,” says Leon.

Leon reminds us that people with disabilities are talented and capable. We just have to look beyond the disability to the person inside. “It feels fantastic to prove the naysayers wrong,” says Leon.


Independence and Inclusion

US Constitution - We The People with USA Flag.

On the Fourth of July, we celebrate the independence, freedom, and liberties that were hard-won by our forefathers.  Independence – of a different kind – is at the heart of what we do at PRIDE Industries. For people with disabilities, ‘independence’ can have diverse and very personal meaning.

For individuals like Diana, it means freedom from past reliance on supports and services. For others like Eric, it means participating in, and contributing to, a team and his community.  For Josh, it meant getting an opportunity to prove himself while earning his way forward. Many other individuals have reached their version of independence through inclusion; click here to read their success stories. With all individuals, their unique goals were accomplished through the most basic of vehicles: a job.

PRIDE Industries serves individuals with a wide range of disabilities including developmental, intellectual, physical, sensory, mental health challenges or other disabilities.

For 49 years, PRIDE’s mission has remained the same – to create jobs for people with disabilities.  We know that employment is essential to an individual’s sense of purpose, dignity, and inclusion. And that independence is achieved through work, choice and increased self-sufficiency.

From all of us at PRIDE Industries, happy Independence Day.

Survival and Perseverance

PRIDE Industries _ Ramon T 02

Ramon’s story is one of survival and perseverance. At the young age of ten, Ramon was diagnosed with a brain tumor. After multiple surgeries, radiation, and chemotherapy treatments, the tumor subsided. The battle cost Ramon much of his teen years, as he was in and out of Mexican hospitals battling the cancer. It also took away most of his sight in his right eye. “My left eye is okay, but the right one … I cannot see with it,” says Ramon Telles, 30, a Materials Handler at PRIDE Industries. “With my right eye I see darkness.”

In search of a new beginning and better life, his family relocated to the U.S. in 2001. In this country, Ramon faced new challenges: learning a new language, navigating a new city with a disability, and struggling with financial instability. “I never worked; I stayed home,” says Ramon.

Despite his many challenges, Ramon was determined to be a contributing member of his new community. He got a job at a fast food restaurant making hamburgers. But, his triumph was short-lived. After just three days on the job, he was let go. His vision made it nearly impossible for him to see the monitor where orders appeared. Ramon was devastated.

Fortunately, he connected with the local vocational services agency and was referred to PRIDE Industries. Eager for an opportunity, Ramon began working in PRIDE’s manufacturing department. For two years, Ramon worked on a variety of packaging, assembly, and order fulfillment projects at PRIDE headquarters in Roseville, CA.

During this time, he also attended night school to learn conversational English. Once he felt comfortable with his language skills, he studied for the citizenship test. In 2007, he took the test and passed, becoming a United States citizen.

Still, Ramon wanted more for himself. His seemingly never-ending energy and aptitude for the work led him to pursue other opportunities within PRIDE. “Eight years ago, when we began PRIDE’s high-volume shipping line, we were searching for a skilled hand-packager,” says his supervisor, Matthew Weiss. “Ramon was eager to apply his skills to our new service offering.”

Ramon was thrilled for the opportunity. “I got a permanent position in the shipping department,” says Ramon. “It changed my life.” He now has financial independence and, most importantly, health insurance to cover his routine medical expenses. He adds, “I get paid vacations, too.” Plus, he is saving for his retirement through his 401K account. “I am happy because I am making money, and I have a 401K.”

With the position came new challenges, “When I first started, I was confused, and I made boxes too big.” His confusion did not last long. He learned rapidly and surpassed expectations. “We discovered his talent for making boxes and making them quickly,” says Weiss. As simple as it sounds, the complex folds can confound many.

PRIDE Industries employs a model of social enterprise, offering manufacturing, distribution and facilities service solutions to businesses and public agencies while creating meaningful jobs for people with disabilities.

Jobs for individuals like Ramon are created through PRIDE’s business enterprises, and by partnering with other community employers. With the support of management and trainers, individuals with disabilities develop professionally, creating a foundation for the rest of their working lives.

PRIDE Industries _ Ramon T 03Ramon has been part of the shipping team for eight years now. His co-workers call him ‘Speedy Gonzales’ because of his rapid box assembly. “What makes Ramon so amazing is that he can succeed despite having extensive vision loss,” says Weiss. “We estimate that he makes over 1,000 boxes per day!”

Although, Ramon is tremendously successful at PRIDE Industries, he still encounters challenges. “I cannot read for a long time, or else I get headaches,” says Ramon. “And, I cannot drive a car.” Despite his many achievements, his inability to get a driver’s license or drive a car is what he laments the most. Now and then, he becomes irritated that he has to rely on public transportation. While he lives less than 20 minutes from work as the crow flies, his trip takes nearly an hour each way due to transportation wait times.

Still, Ramon is an optimistic individual and focuses on his blessings. “I am happy here,” he says. “In the United States, I have the opportunity to work.” He is reminded of his good fortune when he visits family in Mexico. “In Mexico there are no jobs. In my hometown, many people are poor.” Despite his vision loss, Ramon counts his blessings and is grateful that the tumor was not malignant and has not returned. He is also thankful to have found PRIDE. “This company changed my life, and I thank you very much.”

We are glad you found a place with us, Ramon, and we’re thankful to have you at PRIDE.

Kenny’s Road to Recovery


Overcoming troubled youth and creating a brighter future is not easy to do. It is especially difficult when substance abuse and an unstable home environment are present.

Kenny Avila, 20, is a graduate of PRIDE Industries Youth Services Program, and a former foster youth. PRIDE’s Youth Services Program provides support and guidance for teens in the foster care system. PRIDE’s program help teens and young adults overcome obstacles to employment while helping them pave the way to self-sufficiency.

Kenny came from a broken family and fractured past. His introduction to drugs began at the age of seven when a friend got him high on marijuana. He became more immersed in drugs in middle school as the result of peer pressure. By the age of 14, he was using drugs frequently. He also began drinking with friends. For two years, he got high every single day until the age of 16. Smoking marijuana and drinking became part of his lifestyle and led him to get involved with the wrong crowd.

His young life was spiraling out of control. By 16, Kenny had been in and out of jail repeatedly. He fought and began stealing to support his habit. He violated probation repeatedly. Running out of options and feeling defeated, his father talked to Kenny’s probation officer. Soon after, Kenny entered Koinonia Homes for Teens, a highly structured, professional inpatient substance abuse treatment facility for adolescents.

At Koinonia, Kenny had an awakening. “I think it was my first weekend at Koinonia that I went to church.” The experience changed his life forever. “After that, everything began to change,” Kenny recalls. Slowly, Kenny began to see the world in a different light. The more he learned, the more he was able to make positive changes. “I gave my life to Jesus.” His newfound faith and devotion also made an impact on his family. The transformation was all around him, which helped with his recovery process.

Part of the recovery program at Koinonia involves educational classes that are taught by PRIDE Industries Youth Services counselors. Classes cover topics including money management, healthy relationships, setting boundaries, drug awareness and vocational readiness. Kenny learned valuable lessons and skills through these classes. “It was as if I were a baby learning all over again,” Kenny says. “By learning what was unhealthy for me, I began to change.”

Change does not always come easily; there were some difficult moments during Kenny’s road to recovery. One evening during his stay at Koinonia, he received word that one of his younger sisters was going to be a teen mom in a few months. Kenny felt tremendous guilt for his sister’s choices, fearing that he had set a bad example. Through this event, he realized what tremendous impact his choices had on others. If he chose a better path – he could help others to do the same.

Life was different now; the call and his newfound devotion confirmed this choice. He now had a purpose and was determined to share it with the world. He completed the rehabilitation program and excelled. “It was definitely a challenge; it was one of the hardest things I have ever done so far in my life,” Kenny says. “But, it helped me greatly.”

In an effort to improve his outcome, Kenny interned at PRIDE Industries and received hands-on vocational training. Soon after, he was recruited to work at PRIDE’s William Jessup University custodial contract. Later, Kenny enrolled at William Jessup University (WJU).

In a few weeks, Kenny will be starting his junior year. He is majoring in Bible and Theology. As a WJU student, Kenny has the opportunity to help others outside of his immediate circle. Through the university’s Missions Program, Kenny has participated in missionary work abroad. This summer, he traveled to Romania with a group of WJU students working with orphanages in Romanian communities. This is Kenny’s second summer with this effort.

Kenny is passionate about supporting other youth. He uses his story to help and serve others. “I like to work with kids – youth – because I know they are at a vulnerable time,” Kenny says. “My younger years were tough. I know I am not the only one who has struggled. I want to use my story to empower and help others.”

Helping others is now his mission in life. Kenny is a full-time student at WJU and on staff at Koinonia Homes for Teens. As a Childcare Counselor, he helps program participants overcome addiction and live a better life. He is paying it forward. Kenny spends time helping the boys with, “everything from teaching them not to be gross at the table to teaching them how to live life respectfully and with integrity.”

What’s next for Kenny? Once he is done with his studies at WJU, he plans to continue studying divinity while working on a Masters or Doctorate. One thing is for sure, “Whether travelling the world and preaching…I just want to serve God.”

Kenny is an inspiration to us all; he knows he is one of the lucky ones who successfully transitioned out of foster care and is now able to live a healthy sober adulthood. As a young adult, Kenny recognizes how lucky he was to be removed from his negative environment. “I would probably be dead, or in prison. I was not doing the right things at all,” Kenny says.

Kenny has overcome a lot in his short 20 years of life. We look forward to following his path and will continue to cheer him on. We wish you the best, Kenny!

A Celebration of Independence


Fourth of July is Independence Day, a time to celebrate our freedom and liberties. At PRIDE Industries, we support independence for individuals with disabilities. PRIDE’s founders – a small group of devoted parents who wanted to find meaningful work for their adult children with disabilities – should be proud of what their idea has borne. More than 48 years later, thousands of lives have been changed as a result of their simple dream.

Independence is a personal pursuit; for Ilani, it meant recently moving out of her parents’ home and on her own. Angel’s journey took him from a group care home to his own place and he has been living independently for more than 10 years! For Margaret and Joseph, a brother and sister duo just starting their journey, working at PRIDE means gaining the skills needed to achieve greater self-sufficiency. At the heart of all of their successes is employment. A job.

Since 1966, PRIDE’s mission has been to create jobs for people with disabilities. PRIDE strives to provide work at all skill levels with a ladder of opportunity to help individuals achieve their own definition of independence and self-sufficiency. Individuals come to PRIDE from all walks of life. We work together – side-by-side – united by one mission.

On Friday, July 4, 2014, let’s celebrate OUR independence and triumphs – something worthy of celebration.

Happy Independence Day, to all!


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


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.


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.”


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.


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.