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.

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.