Worth The Effort

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It takes more than a diagnosis of Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) to keep someone like Sam Azevedo down. When Sam was referred to PRIDE Industries’ Modesto, Ca., office, it was clear that he was determined to get a job. He worked with his job coach and, instead of applying for one job every day as another motivated job seeker might do, Sam applied for five jobs a day and as many as 40 in a week.

Sam’s determination and his upbeat attitude made the PRIDE staff work even harder to help him find that job. But it was not easy. Sam is high-skilled, but he has a hard time with social cues and interactions, which made interviewing difficult. It took several months of diligent searching and interviewing before he landed a position as a courtesy clerk at Grocery Outlet.

The job has turned out to be worth the effort and wait. Grocery Outlet is a family-owned store that carries that sense of family to its employees and customers. After almost a year on the job, Sam still loves his work. “It really means a lot to have a job because I am on a regular schedule and making money with consistent hours,” says Sam.

pride-industries-sam02The store’s loyal following of regular customers all know Sam by name, and many make a point of saying “hello” when they come in to shop. Owners Roger and Heidi Custer also have high praise for Sam and his work ethic. “Sam is delightful and an important part of our family,” says Roger. “And he’s an asset to our staff.”

People like Sam touch our lives as do many of the employees of PRIDE Industries. It’s a privilege to know and share their journeys.

Keep up the great work Sam!

Inclusion Works: National Disability Employment Awareness Month

October is National Disability Employment Awareness Month (NDEAM). The month-long celebration is themed “Inclusion Works” and places a spotlight on the contributions made by workers with disabilities and educates the public on the value of a diverse workforce.

For 50 years, PRIDE Industries has created jobs for people with disabilities while championing inclusion and a diverse workforce. At PRIDE, we know that inclusion does work and has transformed its mission into countless daily success stories.

Often, with accommodations at work, whether to their workspace, schedule or with the help of assistive technologies, many individuals with disabilities can become or remain gainfully employed. In most cases, hiring people with disabilities is no different than hiring any other job candidate.

By partnering with PRIDE Industries, businesses can leverage its person-centered services including assessments, job skills development, training, placement, transportation, and on-going support to ensure long-term employment success. PRIDE places people in its own business lines and provides support to more than 500 individuals annually in community-based opportunities.

Following are a few examples of individuals with disabilities who found employment success with a little help from PRIDE:

Melissa
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Making positive change is never easy, but with support and guidance, Melissa’s life transformed and she is now living a life she never thought possible.

More about Melissa’s journey, click here.

 
 

Alice
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“To me, we all have a disability; the only difference is you can physically see mine.”

Through PRIDE’s job coaching services, Alice is celebrating 17 years of working in the community. For more on Alice’s story, click here.

 
 

Derek
pride-industries-_-d-ramsey-_-los-angeles-afbAs a retired veteran, Derek struggled with applying his former skill-set to the civilian workforce.

Through PRIDE Derek found a new career while continuing to serve his military family. More on Derek’s journey, click here.

 
 

Dani
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Job hunting is a difficult process. For a young, first-time job seeker with disabilities, the process can be even more daunting.

Through participation in PRIDE programs and services, Dani is on her way to the future she imagined, “Now I feel like I am becoming more of the adult I want to be.”

For more on Dani’s journey, click here.

 
 


Are you interested in hiring employees with disabilities in your business? Speak to our expert staff by contacting us at info@prideindustries.com.


 

Labor Day 2016: Contributions by All

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Labor Day is a holiday that celebrates the social and economic accomplishments of all workers.  For 50 years, PRIDE Industries has been creating jobs for those most often excluded from employment; people with disabilities. Through our mission, we serve people with a broad range of disabilities – developmental, intellectual, physical, sensory, mental illness and more.

Our goal is to provide an opportunity to all who want to work and can contribute. Through PRIDE’s business enterprises and by partnering with others in the community, individuals with disabilities become contributing members of the community.

At PRIDE, we know that disability does not mean inability and that through employment people with disabilities gain a sense of purpose, dignity, inclusion, and lead more self-sufficient lives.

Together, we can pave the way for a Labor Day, that celebrates the contributions of all American workers – those with and without disabilities.

Happy Labor Day to all.

Disability Does Not Mean Inability

Photo: Carlos S.

Finding work in the big state of Texas can be difficult enough when you can’t drive. It is harder, still when the reason is your inability to see.

Carlos Sandoval, 29, was born legally blind. He has an ocular disorder called rod-cone dystrophy. It can cause complete vision loss by one’s teen years.  Some, like Carlos, retain some vision, but sight is severely compromised. For Carlos, it meant no driving and great difficulty reading, operating machinery, and making use of a computer.

Despite his disability, Carlos tried to lead a typical life. He went on to earn a college degree in business and married his high school sweetheart. Today, they are proud parents of a seven-year-old daughter. “My wife and brother have always been there when I need support,” says Carlos. “My daughter, Camila, is my motivation to do better each day.”

His employment search, however, was frustrating and fruitless. Discouraged by the lack of opportunity, Carlos says:  “It is very unfortunate that some employers will only focus on your disability when they realize you have one. They are unable to see your strengths and your desire to work.”

In early 2015, Carlos Sandoval connected to PRIDE Industries. PRIDE is a nonprofit social enterprise dedicated to creating jobs for people with disabilities. Carlos sought and secured employment on PRIDE’s base operating support services contract at Fort Bliss, Texas.

Carlos is a service order dispatcher; he takes service order calls and provides detailed notes to PRIDE technicians and maintenance shop workers to resolve the problem. His priority is excellent customer service. “It takes good communication and team effort to maintain the Army’s second-largest military installation in the United States,” says Carlos.

Carlos is honored to do his part in supporting our military members and their families by helping to keep the base in tip-top condition. “I wanted to join the U.S. Army,” says Carlos. “But as I grew older, I realized that would not be possible.” Working with PRIDE, he knows he is contributing.

Photo:Carlos S._2To help him succeed at work, PRIDE provided Carlos with accessibility tools including the ZoomText® program and Ruby®.  ZoomText is a computer screen magnifier and screen reader for the visually impaired. Carlos was also provided with a ZoomText keyboard that features larger than average keys. Ruby is a portable video magnifier that can go wherever the individual goes. “I know that it would be difficult to perform my duties without them,” Carlos says. “I use these tools every day; they compensate for my vision problem.”

Within months, Carlos is thriving at work. “I am proud to share that I was recently awarded the “Employee of the Quarter” award,” says Carlos. “This is a very encouraging recognition and proof that hard work is rewarded at PRIDE Industries.”

With employment taken care of, Carlos has other goals to conquer.  He and his wife are saving to buy their first home and to make an important personal goal a reality: to drive a car. “One of the most frustrating and hardest things to overcome was when I turned 16 and was being unable to drive,” says Carlos. “I have started saving for whenever those modern, self-driving cars become available. I hope I am not too old to enjoy it and go for a cruise!”

For 49 years, PRIDE Industries has been providing support services and employment opportunities to those most often excluded from employment:  people with disabilities like Carlos. At PRIDE, we know disability does not mean inability. With accommodations, training and persistence, Carlos has been able to prove his skills in the workplace and find success.

“PRIDE is an employer that chooses to see what a person can do rather than what a person cannot do,” says Carlos. We’re glad that Carlos found his place at PRIDE.

The Meaning of Success

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“Success is liking yourself, liking what you do, and liking how you do it.” – Maya Angelou

Pamela Adams is a Processor at WeaveWorks Recycled Fashion, Sacramento – a nonprofit recycled clothing store and an extension of Weave Inc. The store supports crisis intervention services for survivors of domestic violence and sexual assault in Sacramento County. Pamela became a permanent employee of the thrift store after excelling in a paid internship that she earned through PRIDE Industries.

“I have a learning disability that causes me to need help,” says Pamela. Her search for work over four years was fragmented and the jobs, short-lived, as a result of her disability. She worked at a preschool, a retail shop, and other thrift stores. Pamela became frustrated and went to the California Department of Rehabilitation (DOR) for help. DOR connected Pamela to PRIDE Industries and programs that help individuals with disabilities prepare for and find employment by developing skills that will guide them to lasting employment.

Pamela began working one-on-one with a PRIDE job developer and attended Job Club meetings. Job Club provides an opportunity for individuals to gain hands-on interviewing and job-seeking practice. Enrollees learn job etiquette skills, receive help in translating strengths into a resume, and get assistance with conducting a job search. They learn how to manage typical work situations with peers, managers and customers. After a few months of job searching, and a very special makeover, Pamela landed an internship with WeaveWorks Recycled Fashion in Sacramento. In February 2015, she was hired on.

At WeaveWorks, Pamela currently assists the receiving team but has set larger goals for herself. She wants to become familiar with high-end designers, to identify their creations, and to become proficient at pricing goods. She learns a little differently but continues to excel.

“Pam has been a tremendous asset to the Weave receiving team,” says Amy Sugimoto, Director of Retail Operations at WeaveWorks Recycled Fashion. “She brings professionalism and strong desire to succeed with her to work each day.”

For Pamela, the job means much more than a paycheck – or first-hand dibs at great deals in fashionable goods! “It is more than just the clothes; it is about the people,” says Pamela. “Her ‘can do’ attitude has made her a valuable member of our team,” says Amy.

Pamela feels good about contributing to Weave’s mission through her work. “Weave helps people coming out of abusive relationships,” says Pamela. “Sometimes they need a safe house to get away from the abuse. The money from the store goes to help Weave’s mission. I feel good about that.”

Some measure success by a title or the number of zeros attached to a paycheck. For Pamela, success is finding her place in the labor force, enjoying what she does, and contributing to something greater than herself.

Through PRIDE’s Employment Services Program, Pamela has found her place at WeaveWorks thrift store and is making a difference in the life of others. We are so proud of her accomplishments, and we look forward to following her progress. Keep up the great work, Pamela!

For more information about Weave and WeaveWorks visit www.weaveinc.org.

A Valuable Part of The Team

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Eric McCullough, 50, is a key member of PRIDE Industries’ custodial team ensuring that the Sacramento International Airport Terminal B is spotless.

It is hard to miss Eric’s enthusiasm and dedication to his job. He has received numerous letters from travelers praising his work and giving him kudos. In the selfie era, Eric has become an unofficial PRIDE celebrity at the airport. Recently, a traveler posted to PRIDE’s Facebook page: “Just met one of your outstanding employees at the Sacramento International Airport. Liked him so much I asked if we could take a selfie… Mr. McCullough totally made my morning!”

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“When doing my job at the airport, I don’t expect people to come up to me and give me recognition. I just let my work speak for itself, says Eric. “I am very serious about that.”

Eric says he is simply doing what he loves. “I enjoy treating the customers with respect; showing them where to go when they get lost, making them feel at home and giving them encouragement.” Although he takes the time to help others and assist where needed, his top priority is accomplishing his tasks. “My main goal is to get my work done in a timely manner.”

Eric has a developmental disability. He was referred to PRIDE at the age of 17,  and he has never wanted to leave the company. Over his 31 years with the company, Eric has held many jobs including a variety of packaging, assembly, and order fulfillment projects. Each job has helped him to develop new skills and improve upon his strengths.

“There are certain things I can’t do as well as other people, but I don’t let that stop me from achieving my goals in life,” says Eric. “I just do the best I can and move on from there.”

Four years ago, Eric decided he was ready for a new challenge. He joined one of PRIDE’s Supported Employment Program groups working at the airport. The Program partners with local businesses to meet their needs while creating community-based jobs for people with disabilities.

Working in the community has been great for Eric. “Eric works full-time, plus all holidays – his attendance is outstanding. He never misses a day,” says Robin Yniguez, a PRIDE Rehabilitation Counselor and Eric’s case manager. “Eric is a very valuable part of the team. He makes us look amazing!”

When asked what motivates him, Eric replies: “The energy in me keeps me going. It keeps me from being bored and gives me an opportunity to do nice things for people that I come in contact with.”

Eric is a humble individual who shares credit for his success. “I am very thankful that God has allowed me to work at the airport and use the talents and the gifts He has given me. If it weren’t for Him, I would not be out there, so I won’t take all the credit. However, I am proud of myself.”

We are proud of Eric, too. We hope his story has inspired you to think about creating opportunities for individuals with disabilities in your business or organization. And, next time you’re traveling through Terminal B in Sacramento, don’t forget to say “hello” to Eric. Better yet, just post your selfie!

Opportunities for Success

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William Brown joined PRIDE Industries’ Fort Rucker, AL team in April 2013 as a Maintenance Trades Helper. He is currently assigned to the Electrical Shop where he is responsible for performing preventive maintenance on approximately 120 generators each month. Will is described as a hard worker by his supervisor, Charlie Cotton. “He is efficient and gets his work done on time.” Larry Maio, Manager for CB&I – a subcontractor to PRIDE – added: “He’s right on with identifying a problem with a generator and notifies me right away.”

William was not always sure that he would be able to do such great work in the electrical shop. As he grew up, people always told him that he could not do certain things because he was deaf.  But the comments cut both ways; they also gave him the drive to work harder at everything he did. When he first started training on generators, Will wondered if he would ever be able to work on them independently. “I may be unable to hear the generator if it’s running. How do I contact my supervisor if there is a problem with one of the generators?” William wondered.

William wears Cochlear implants. The implants provide him with a useful representation of sound and help him to better understand speech.  However, hearing the running generators were still a hearing challenge. The solution was simple: William safely touches the generator to ensure that it is not running before he begins performing preventive maintenance. PRIDE also provided William with a cellphone that has Purple3 (P3) capabilities. With P3, Will is able to call his supervisor as a live interpreter on the phone line translates the conversation.

With a little ingenuity, some simple accommodations, patience, dedication, and hard work, William overcame his fears and is now self-reliant in a field he excels at. In fact, he was recently promoted to General Maintenance Worker.

“I feel good because I can show people that being deaf doesn’t stop you from being successful,” says William. “PRIDE has given me a lot of opportunities and a lot of support to help me be successful in my career.”

“William Brown is a prime example that a person’s disability does not define their ability,” says Rehabilitation Counselor Stephany Marshall.

Touchdown!

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Raymundo Muro holds three degrees – an Associate Degree in Human Services and Liberal Arts, and a Bachelor’s degree in Multi-Disciplinary Studies from University of Texas El Paso, Texas.   He also happens to be blind. He volunteered and won internship opportunities, but was unable to find permanent employment because of his disability. That is, until he found PRIDE Industries at Fort Bliss, TX in 2007.

Referred to PRIDE by the Texas Department of Assistive and Rehabilitative Services (DARS), Ray quickly found success in the Self-Help shop where he promptly brailled all of the inventory.  He also works with a screen reader called JAWS and a Braille Sense Notetaker to help him maintain the shop database. “The best part of my job is the opportunity to meet people from all over the world,” says Ray.

“Ray knows the shop like the back of his hand.  He greets everyone that comes in the door with a smile,” says Jimmy Rios, Warehouse Supervisor.

PRIDE Industries_Ray MIn addition to his vast knowledge of the warehouse – Ray is an expert on college and professional football. Interviewed recently on “the Big 600” radio show in El Paso by local El Paso Sports personality, Steve Kaplowitz – Ray’s dazzled listening audiences with his knowledge of the game – and of course, of his favorite team, the Dallas Cowboys. Meeting Kaplowitz was the highlight of Ray’s day, but winning an invitation to talk sports with him anytime was the real touchdown!

“Having a disability doesn’t mean we don’t have other talents” says Ray.

“Ray Muro is an excellent employee and a great person to have on our team. He is highly respected here at PRIDE – Fort. Bliss, TX for his wonderful attitude and willingness to assist our troops,” says Warehouse Manager Mynor McCray.  “I truly enjoy talking with him, especially about football!”

Hiring People with Disabilities

October is National Disability Employment Awareness Month (NDEAM). As the month comes to an end, our focus on employment for individuals with disabilities should not. Hiring and celebrating the accomplishments of people with disabilities should be a year-round effort if we are to make real progress in creating opportunities for those most excluded from employment.

Hiring a qualified individual with disabilities brings benefits beyond filling a job opening. Businesses that employ people with disabilities understand that diverse experiences and perspectives actually add value to the workplace. The business benefits extend to lower turnover, reduced training and recruitment costs, and the development of a loyal and committed workforce.  Hiring individuals with disabilities is a win/win for business owners and their bottom lines.

A 2007 study done by DePaul University noted low absenteeism rates and long tenures for workers with disabilities. Employers also described their employees with disabilities as “loyal, reliable, and hardworking.” Click here to view a summary of the study.

In most cases, hiring people with disabilities is no different than hiring any other job candidate.  All new employees need to become familiar with an organization’s management style and workplace culture. Working with agencies serving employees with disabilities brings the added benefit of comprehensive training and guidance to ensure success for employer, employee and new team members.

Interested? Speak to our expert staff about hiring employees with disabilities in your business by contacting us at: info@prideindustries.com.

At PRIDE Industries, our mission is to create jobs for people with disabilities. For nearly 50 years, PRIDE 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.

Following are a few examples of successful individuals with disabilities at PRIDE Industries who hold a variety of important positions:

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Chance Martin, Administrative Assistant, PRIDE’s Administrative Office of the Courts (AOC) team.

Chance provides uses his technical skills to provide administrative support to the AOC team including data entry and document preparation among other duties. Click here to learn more about Chance’s story.

Carlos Gutiérrez, General Maintenance Worker, PRIDE Industries at Fort Bliss.

Carlos provides technical and skilled craft support to PRIDE Industries’ basewide facilities maintenance contract at Fort Bliss, Texas. Click here to learn more about Carlos’ story.

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Devin West, Hand Packager, PRIDE Industries in Auburn.

Devin successfully transitioned from high school to full-time employment. Through her job at PRIDE, Devin has gained vocational training and job skills and looks forward to working in the community one day.  Learn more about Devin’s story, Click here.

How can you make a difference for individuals with disabilities?

  • Look beyond a disability to ability in your workplace hiring.
  • Hire PRIDE Industries 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.

A Believer of PRIDE’s Mission

Pictured (L to R): Roy Hightower and William Myers

Pictured (L to R): Roy Hightower and William Myers

Disability – when it affects us – is usually not a one-time event in our lives. It is a journey – often with bumps and set-backs along the way. William Myers, 44, a General Maintenance Worker at PRIDE Industries’ Fort Polk, LA contract, is determined not to let those slow him down. He shares his story below.

In 2005, William had his right leg amputated, an experience that changed the course of his life. Recovery was not easy. He was no longer able to work in physically-demanding fields such as roofing and carpentry where he once excelled. In 2011, William lost his job and spent 2.5 years unemployed, searching and receiving social security benefits. During this time, William struggled to provide for his family – an experience that affected his sense of self-worth. Despite his tireless efforts to land a job, William was unable to find any job as employers focused on his disability instead of his potential.

In 2013, William connected with PRIDE Industries and got the break he needed. William began working as a Grounds Maintenance Laborer on PRIDE’s contract providing base wide operating support services to Fort Polk, LA. He quickly excelled, earning a promotion to Maintenance Trades Helper in the HVAC shop. Life was good, and things were going his way until he suffered a medical complication which required surgery. In April 2014, William had to take a leave of absence from work to recover. For many, this second blow might mean a return to long-term unemployment. However, following his recovery, William was able to return to PRIDE. Today he is a General Maintenance Worker in the interior electric shop.

“Since working for PRIDE, my financial situation has improved significantly,” William says. Having a job is about more than a paycheck for him. Working at PRIDE Industries has improved his confidence, self-esteem, and helped William to be self-sufficient once again. Most importantly, he can provide a better life for his two-year-old daughter. That, to William, is priceless. His daughter is his biggest motivation and the reason he gives 110% on the job and in life. William is currently saving to buy a home and to set up a college fund for her.

PRIDE’s rehabilitation counselors at Fort Polk attest to William’s dedication on the job and in overcoming challenges. Customers and military personnel at the base notice William’s work ethic as well. “PRIDE has helped me gain confidence and pride in myself,” says William. “I am a true believer in PRIDE’s mission!”

Individuals like William inspire us; we are glad that he is part of the PRIDE Industries family.