Spotlight On: PRIDE’s Woodland, CA Employment Services

Smiling Asian businessman shaking partners hand

HELPING OTHERS

Our Woodland Employment Services Center is a small office with one Job Developer and three Job Coaches that services Yolo County, CA. Despite their small size, the team has created a huge impact in the community; for the last two years they have served more than 90 job development clients, provided 500 hours of job coaching and placed more than 50 people in employment. With funding made possible by generous donations to PRIDE Industries Foundation, they also create opportunities by offering paid internships to qualified individuals with disabilities looking to start their careers. Below are two stories of successful job placement:

JOHN CURTIS:

John Curtis pic2

“Employment has changed my life for the better. The opportunity to help my clients with disabilities succeed in employment motivates me every day.”

As a PRIDE Industries Job Coach, John Curtis helps clients with disabilities by providing coaching and training. John works very closely with each client to ensure they are successfully placed, starting with the intake process through their first weeks of employment preparation and following along after assisting the client in securing employment. He also maintains accurate case notes, reports throughout the process, and provides offsite job coaching, external situational assessments, vocational assessments and PVSA services.

What helps make John so successful at his job is his ability to relate to his clients’ experience – navigating a job search while having a disability. In 2016, John experienced a back injury; this disability and a lack of work experience (after recently obtaining his high school diploma) created obstacles to finding work. Seeking help, he contacted the Department of Rehabilitation, which referred him to PRIDE Industries.

After completing an ESA (External Situational Assessment) in 2017, to determine his job skills and interests, John started a paid internship at PRIDE’s Woodland, CA Employment Services Office. “John is a wonderful addition to our Woodland team,” says Job Developer Tara Vittone. “He learned so much in such a short period of time and occasionally helps solve our computer problems!” Just three months later, John was offered a permanent position with PRIDE.

In less than two years, John accomplished two major goals: completing his high school education and obtaining a full-time, meaningful job at PRIDE Industries. He plans to attend college to grow his career and aims to purchase his own home.

AREN SCARDACI: 

Aren

Aren struggled to find a full-time job that utilized his educational background. To jump start his career, he was referred to PRIDE Industries in late 2016.

With the extra help, Aren was able to extend his job search. “PRIDE’s staff was very supportive, and they helped me refine my employment soft skills while accommodating for my disability,” says Aren. “PRIDE works very hard to find their clients a job that fits their skills and background.”

To strengthen his resume, Aren was offered an internship with the Woodland Office in 2017. As an intern, he assisted with facilitating Job Club and working one-on-one with other PRIDE clients seeking employment. “Coaching other individuals allowed me to gain communication and practical skills that continue to help me today,” says Aren. His Job Developer also helped place Aren in a clerical volunteer position at the local United Way to continue to diversify his skills.

All the hard work finally paid off; in October 2017, Aren interviewed and was hired as a Computer Learning Center Coordinator job at Yolo County Housing. In this position, he helps youth residents use the computer lab, assists with homework and class material and leads educational activities. “

“This job is a perfect fit for me,” says Aren. “I enjoy sharing my outdoor education background with the residents. We recently conducted a scavenger hunt of California state parks using Google Maps.”

“I’m thankful for all the care and support from PRIDE’s staff. Employment has given me greater independence, and I am enjoying my new career. I also hope that my story can be used to encourage others with disabilities who are struggling to find employment.”

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 info@prideindustries.com to learn how your business can employ individuals with disabilities.

From all of us at PRIDE, Happy Independence Day!

Where Are They Now

October is National Disability Employment Awareness Month (NDEAM). NDEAM brings the issue of employment for people with disabilities to light. Individuals with disabilities 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 a lack of opportunity.

Last October, we introduced a group of women who participated in the “Presenting Yourself Positively in an Interview,” makeover event. The event exclusively supported job seekers with disabilities.

Seven women enrolled in PRIDE Industries’ Supported Employment Program received makeovers. The event served a diverse group of women from all walks of life, each with unique obstacles and stories.

We followed up on their progress, and here we share with you:

Alysha

PRIDE Industries Success Story AlyshaAfter participating in the makeover event, Alysha got a boost of confidence and soon after landed a job. We are happy to report that in December 2014, Alysha joined PRIDE Industries’ custodial team ensuring that the Sacramento International Airport’s Terminal B is sparkling clean.

Alysha has an anxiety disorder. Although there were many disability-related challenges, Alysha made an effort to pursue self-sufficiency and independence.

When asked how life is different now, Alysha replies: “I do not spend so much time in my room, or look for other ways to avoid interacting with people.” Working at the airport has also helped Alysha overcome her anxiety.

More about Alysha’s journey, click here.

Ashley

PRIDE Industries _ Ashley02Employment success often follows a windy path for individuals with disabilities. Ashley has, not one, but multiple challenges. She has been diagnosed with bipolar disorder and Asperger’s – an autism spectrum disorder. She has attention-deficit hyperactivity, depression and anxiety and mood disorders.

Despite the challenges, Ashley never gave up. Soon after the makeover event, she landed a retail job. While the job was only seasonal, it was a great learning experience and a step forward on her journey.

Now, Ashley is a courtesy clerk with the locally headquartered grocery chain, Raley’s. Working at the grocery store provides a welcome environment where she sees the potential for a long-term future.

More about Ashley’s success, click here.

Pamela

PRIDE Industries WeaveWorks Sacramento _ Pamela 03Pamela has a learning disability. Because of her disability, her search for work was fragmented over four years.

At the time of the makeover event, Pamela was a volunteer at a thrift shop. Soon after, she landed a paid internship at WeaveWorks Recycled Fashion in Sacramento. Pamela earned the internship through PRIDE Industries’ Employment Services Program.

She excelled in the internship and WeaveWorks offered her a permanent position. At WeaveWorks, Pamela assists the receiving team and is a valuable asset to the group.

More about Pamela’s journey to employment success, click here.

Four more women received makeovers as part of their employment journey. One is thriving as an in-home care provider. A second recipient volunteers with a local hospital and hopes it will translate into regular employment. Two remain unemployed. One continues to pursue an opportunity in the insurance field; the other put the job search on hold due to disability-related setbacks.

For 49 years, PRIDE’s mission has been to create jobs for people with disabilities. We know that disability does not mean inability and that employment builds confidence, self-reliance, and dignity. The path can be long and full of twists and turns. For some, it can take a few months; for others it could take years. However, when a person with disabilities becomes gainfully employed, we know that opportunity will greatly impact him/her and those around them.

Pamela, Ashley, and Alysha are just a few of our countless successes. We look forward to following all of the women along their paths and will continue to cheer them on.

Why Words Matter

Man with a disability laughing with a woman at a cafe

Let’s Talk: Disability Language

October is National Disability Employment Awareness Month (NDEAM). We take this opportunity to highlight the many contributions of America’s workers with disabilities and promote a culture of inclusiveness.

One out of five people in America has a disability, making them our nation’s largest “minority.” The group represents all ages, genders, ethnicities, and socioeconomic levels. The likelihood of joining this group is high. Disability can be acquired at birth, in the blink of an eye due to an accident or injury, or acquired from illness or age.

Despite its frequency, many people are still uncomfortable talking about disability. This uncomfortableness contributes to the obstacles that people with disabilities face in obtaining employment or fully integrating with their workforce. The truth is that there are as many preferences about ways to identify a person with a disability as there are individuals. So what is a well-intentioned person to do? When in doubt: ask. We’ll get to that in a minute, but first, let’s talk about two distinct (and oft-debated) approaches to disability language.

Person-First Language (PFL)
People-first language is generally at the heart of our organization’s disability awareness training. The emphasis is on the person – not the disability or condition. Those who support people-first language (PFL) believe that using a diagnosis or condition as a defining characteristic robs the person of the opportunity to define him or herself. PFL was developed to address the stigma often associated with disability. Advocates wanted to reaffirm that disability does not, in fact, lessen one’s personhood. As such, the PFL movement encourages the use of phrases like “person with a disability,” or “person with autism” instead of “disabled person” or “autistic person.”

The disability community is not only large; it is often divided. Increasingly, a second preference is being voiced: Identity-First Language (IFL).

Identity-First Language (IFL)
For those who prefer identity-first language, “disabled person” is a perfectly acceptable way to identify a person. Their belief is that PFL purposefully separates a person from their disability, presuming that disability is something a person should dissociate from to be considered a whole person.

From their perspective, it also implies that “disability” or “disabled” are negative, derogatory words when, for many, disability is just a part of their being or uniqueness. Within the Autistic community, IFL is preferred by many when Autism is considered as a part of a person’s identity. Using IFL language, you would say that someone is “Autistic,” not a “person with autism.” However, even people with IFL preferences draw an important distinction when it comes to the use of a term strictly for its medical definition. You would never refer to a person based on a diagnosis such as “Down syndrome person” or “cerebral palsy person.”

Confused? You are not alone. So what’s a person to do?

JUST ASK.
The debate between PFL and IFL is proof that words do matter. Language, however, is never “one-size-fits-all.” When in doubt, do not assume. Ask the person how they choose to identify.
Words and language are powerful tools. Language, and the meanings we attach to words, have the power to influence, develop, and change attitudes and beliefs. Each person’s use of language and identity are deeply personal. Just ask and respect their choice.

Quick note: Always avoid terms that dis-empower people or have negative meanings like “handicapped,” “wheelchair-bound,” “crippled,” etc. And please, never use the “R” word. The word “retarded” is a highly offensive term for people with intellectual disabilities.

For more information about People-First and Identity-First Language, here are a few more:

Why Person-First Language Doesn’t Always Put the Person First

Describing People with Disabilities

Identity-First Language

Communicating With and About People with Disabilities

Success is a Journey

PRIDE Industries _ Ashley02

For individuals with disabilities, employment success often follows a windy path, full of bumps in the road. For Ashley Perea, 24, the journey has required patience and perseverance, but the rewards are tenfold.

Ashley has not one –but multiple challenges. She has been diagnosed with bipolar disorder and Asperger’s – an autism spectrum disorder. She has attention-deficit hyperactivity, depression and anxiety and mood disorders.  “I don’t like that I have it,” says Ashley, who chooses to focus on the positive. “I focus on what I can fix and that helps.”

Three years ago, the California Department of Rehabilitation referred Ashley to PRIDE Industries where she received Employment Services support and placement.  With assistance, Ashley landed a job at Panera Bread.  While working there, Ashley uncovered a previously unknown skill: customer relations. She excelled at interacting with the customers and quickly became a favorite.

Ashley remained employed for over a year until life threw her a curve ball forcing her to take a break from the job.

When she was ready to return to the workforce, Ashley reconnected with PRIDE Industries and began the journey anew. With professional guidance and appropriate medications, Ashley gained coping skills and made remarkable strides. When anxiety kicks in, she uses breathing exercises, counts to ten backward, or picks up the phone and calls her job coach, Katie Edwards. With better focus and help from PRIDE’s Employment Services, she fine-tuned her resume, polished her interviewing skills, and worked with the team to identify jobs that might be a good fit for her strengths.

“Ashley has overcome many interpersonal barriers and has found a position which allows her outgoing personality to shine,” says Katie Edwards, a PRIDE Industries job coach.

After a few months of job searching and a very special makeover, Ashley landed a retail job. While the job was only seasonal, it was a great learning experience and a step forward on her journey – and Ashley did not give up.

Ashley refocused again and landed a job with the locally headquartered grocery chain, Raley’s. She recently passed her 90-day probationary period and is now gainfully employed.  Ashley is a courtesy clerk – a perfect fit for someone who excels at customer service.  “I love it!” says Ashley, “Connecting with the customers, and making sure they feel welcome at the store.” Working at the grocery store provides a welcome environment where she sees the potential for a long-term future. “It is like one big family,” she says. She hopes to work her way up to the assistant manager position one day.

One step at a time, Ashley is accomplishing her goals of independence.  Her latest achievement: the purchase of a new car.

We asked Ashley which accomplishment she is most proud of; she replied: “Going from a bus to a car and overcoming my shyness to be successful at Raley’s.”

Ashley’s next two goals are to go back to school and move out of her parents’ home. “My mom used to be a writer; I would love to do something like that,” says Ashley.

Individuals like Ashley remind us that success is a journey, not a race and that people can achieve their dreams when given support and opportunity. We are so proud of your achievements, Ashley!  Keep up the great work.