A Path to Success

Celebrating our achievements together

For the 20,000+ youths emancipating from foster care across the nation, many have no significant safety net or family to support them during their transition to young adulthood. As a result, they face great difficulty in gaining steady employment. Only 71% of youth in foster care will receive a high school diploma by age 19, and only 10% will attend college – lowering career prospects.

To bridge this gap, 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 while connecting them to internships and jobs in the community. This success is made possible by generous donations to the PRIDE Industries Foundation.

With the determination to build a foundation of independence, Phoenix, a 16-year old young woman in foster care, enrolled in PRIDE’s Youth Services Program in December 2016. She has graciously shared her story with us.

Phoenix’s Story:

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The future is looking bright for Phoenix. Currently a senior in high school, she maintains a 3.5 GPA, is taking Advanced Placement (AP) classes and is excited about attending college next year in the fall. Phoenix has overcome many obstacles in her young life as a youth in foster care, including adjusting to a new city, school and family. With purpose and drive, she maintains a positive attitude and continues to thrive.

After Phoenix celebrated her 16th birthday, she soon realized she would be reaching a serious milestone. “In two years, I am going to be financially on my own,” says Phoenix. “I needed to get a job to start saving for my future.” However, getting that first job was more difficult than she had anticipated; lack of a car and reliable transportation, a phone and prior job experience all presented challenges. When Phoenix was first invited to participate in an interview, she also did not know how to navigate through difficult questions.

“Coming from foster care, I often felt uncomfortable when asked questions about my personal life and background,” says Phoenix. “I didn’t feel like I had the answers that they wanted.”

Fortunately, Phoenix’s foster mother referred her to PRIDE Industries’ Youth Services Program, which connected her with Job Developer Danielle Anderson. Together, they worked to create a resume and cover letter. Phoenix practiced interviewing with multiple PRIDE Job Developers and worked on her posture, speaking tone and eye contact. Practice soon made perfect, and Phoenix’s confidence increased.

Aside from the guidance provided by PRIDE’s staff, the Foundation was able to help Phoenix by funding some essential items needed for employment success, including a cell phone and new appropriate interview clothing that fit properly.

The job search was not an easy one. “Not hearing back after applying was very frustrating,” says Phoenix. “As a minor, my job options were already limited.” Despite the long process, Phoenix persistently applied and followed up with every opportunity that she could find. After a few months, she called to inquire about opportunities at a local restaurant and landed an interview. With the new skills that she had learned, Phoenix was hired on the spot as a store associate/cashier in June 2017.

“The Youth Services team was so proud of Phoenix for reaching her goal,” says Danielle. “The skills that she learned including customer service, teamwork and balancing multiple priorities, will help her in future career pursuits.” Having a job not only provided a paycheck, but it has also improved Phoenix’s self-confidence. “I was able to purchase my first smartphone and started saving for college,” says Phoenix. With the experience gained from her first position, Phoenix applied again to a department store and is now working as a cashier in an environment that she enjoys.

After she graduates from high school in spring 2018, Phoenix plans to study psychology and become a therapist, focusing on adolescents. “The guidance I received from Danielle and PRIDE’s Youth Services team will continue to help me when I attend college and build a career,” says Phoenix.

An Opportunity to Find Meaningful Employment

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Finding a new career after leaving the workforce due to illness or disability can often be a daunting task. Joey Guillot is a carpenter at PRIDE Industries’ contract at Fort Polk in Louisiana. After a long period of unemployment due to his disabilities, Joey found a new place and career at PRIDE. To get to this point, he worked with much determination to overcome the numerous barriers posed by his disabilities.

As a result of an unaddressed learning disability, Joey became discouraged as a young student and dropped out of high school during his freshman year. Since he had left school so early, he never received the help needed to overcome his illiteracy. Despite his lack of a high school diploma, Joey found work in the community and built a self-sufficient life.

However, later in life, Joey developed peripheral neuropathy, a nerve condition that causes weakness, numbness, and pain in the hands and feet and other parts of the body. His condition worsened to the point of almost near paralysis. Due to complications, Joey was forced to leave the workforce in 2001. After the unexpected death of his wife of 25 years, he also began to struggle with depression and alcohol abuse, and his life took a turn for the worse.

Although Joey received Social Security Disability (SSDI) benefits, he never felt as fulfilled as when he was working. As the effects of his neuropathy began to improve, Joey decided to re-enter the workforce and search for a new career. Determined to reach his goal, he applied for employment services with Louisiana Rehabilitation Services (LRS) in April 2014.

In spite of the many challenges that he faced, Joey strived to change his life Searching for a new career would not prove an easy task; a 13-year resume gap, lack of high school diploma, struggles with depression and substance abuse, and neuropathy all were great obstacles to even getting an interview. Furthermore, Joey’s illiteracy prevented him from completing a GED program or learning another trade. Joey worked closely with his LRS counselors to manage his depression and maintain sobriety. Fortunately, the search ended in 2014 when LRS referred Joey to a training program at PRIDE Industries’ contract at Ft. Polk.

PRIDE ended up being the perfect opportunity for Joey; after four weeks of on-the-job training, he was hired as a general maintenance worker in the carpentry shop. “PRIDE Industries has been a blessing to this region because they give people with disabilities an opportunity to find meaningful employment,” says LRS Counselor Don Green. “There are few employers in Beauregard and Vernon Parish (a rural area) that provide opportunities for earning good wages as well as accommodations for employees with disabilities.”

To help Joey succeed in his job, PRIDE’s rehabilitation staff provides counseling and job coaching. They have also worked with him on improving his literacy skills, and Joey is currently earning his GED. “Joey is a very hard and determined worker who does not allow his disability to hold him back from accomplishing anything he wants. He is capable of completing any task that is set in front of him,” says Rehabilitation Counselor Sonja Matthews. Joey’s hard work and perseverance impressed his supervisors; when a carpenter position became available, he applied and was hired on October 3, 2015. Joey has continued to thrive in his new role and is currently aiming to become a carpenter lead.

With support, Joey was able to turn his life around. Steady employment, and along with a supportive network which included his father, church community, and his LRS counselor, Joey has managed his depression and successfully maintained sobriety. He also recently married Mrs. Angela Pratt in October 2015 and is greatly satisfied with his new position and positive outlook on life.

 

PRIDE Is Like Family

PRIDE Industries _ D Ramsey _ Los Angeles AFB

Growing up in a small town in Connecticut, made Derek Ramsey, a service order dispatcher at PRIDE Industries – Los Angeles Air Force Base (LA AFB) contract, want to expand his horizons and explore the world.

This drive inspired Derek to join the US Navy as a young adult before he completed a college degree. Derek served in the Navy from 1999 – 2003 and was promoted from an E2 Seaman Apprentice to an Aviation Electrician Technician. Tours sent him twice to the Persian Gulf in 2000 – 2002. Derek was also briefly stationed in the Pacific and San Diego, CA. He retired from the military in 2002 and decided to move to Los Angeles.

Despite the skills that he learned while serving our country, Derek had difficulty finding permanent employment. Military jobs do not always translate easily to civilian work. “I have had jobs in purchasing, managing medical records, delivering mail, call center customer service – you name it, none of them worked out,” says Derek.

A factor was his diagnosis after military service of PTSD, and later Bipolar II Disorder. “My disabilities make it difficult for me to engage socially and concentrate on tasks,” Derek tells us. “I also frequently needed to take time off to go to medical appointments.” Due to lack of employer accommodations and understanding for his disabilities, Derek churned through jobs without developing a career trajectory.

Employment difficulties soon carried over into his personal life to the point where Derek found himself homeless for two years. “For a long time, I didn’t seek any help,” says Derek. Eventually, he turned to the Department of Veteran Affairs for help in finding housing. While at a doctor’s appointment, he discovered a flyer advertising for a service order dispatcher position at PRIDE Industries. He applied and was hired in early 2015.

PRIDE Industries ended up being just the opportunity that Derek needed; he recently celebrated his first year job anniversary. “This is one the longest jobs that I have ever had,” says Derek. “It was difficult, initially, being back on a military base. But I now feel comfortable working as a civilian and not as a soldier.”

The flexibility of time off for medical appointments and taking extra breaks has allowed Derek to excel in his position as a service order dispatcher. Job coaches and counselors are also available when needed to offer encouragement during challenging times. “Everyone is very supportive; PRIDE is like my family away from family,” says Derek.

Derek currently handles diverse service orders for LA AFB, including plumbing, electrical wiring, carpentry, locksmith, fire alarms, and engineering needs throughout the installation. He enjoys contributing to the running of the base. “Derek is always looking for ways to grow in his role,” says Laura Alvarez, PRIDE’s Service Order Supervisor. “He is responsible, takes great pride in his job, and is always a pleasure to work with.”

A permanent job has also helped Derek to achieve greater financial and personal stability. As a result, he has continued his education – a vital component of his career development. He recently earned a degree in Computer Networking and is now contemplating a future career in information technology.

We are proud to support veterans like Derek in employment and their career goals.

Can You Believe It?

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Charlie’s day begins at three o’clock in the morning, a time when most of us are still asleep. While the moon is still shining, Charlie prepares to make a two-mile walk to catch the first light rail train. He then catches a bus which connects him to a PRIDE Industries shuttle. After a four hour journey, Charlie is finally delivered to work by seven in the morning. These are the lengths that Charlie goes through, twice a day, because he loves his job.

Charles “Charlie” Curtner, 65, has been working in the PRIDE Industries cafeteria since 2001. He is a vital member of the cafeteria team. His job requires him to clean tables, restock refrigerated beverages and food items, greet customers, and be a backup cashier when needed. Charlie’s work ethic, attention to detail, love for people, and his sense of humor have helped him be successful on the job.

Charlie’s brother introduced him to PRIDE in 1993. He applied for a dishwasher position at a PRIDE military base contract. “You’re hired!” Charlie recalls excitedly. This was only the starting point for Charlie.

Before PRIDE, Charlie had worked for years as a dishwasher in the community. Once at PRIDE, he held a variety of packaging, assembly, and order fulfillment jobs. Still, Charlie wanted more for himself. With support, Charlie found his place with PRIDE’s cafeteria team.

“Charlie is a very friendly person that always greets people and welcomes them to the cafeteria with a warm smile,” says Olivia Jones, Charlie’s supervisor. “He is very dedicated, hardworking, and is always willing to take the extra step to make sure he is doing his job well.”

Charlie has a disability but prefers to focus on his abilities. He lives independently and has for most of his adult life. Charlie does share his home with his cat named Sam, who was abandoned as a kitten, and named after Yosemite Sam, the cartoon character. And while Charlie loves cartoons, if you ask about retirement his response is: “Uh-uh, stay home and watch the idiot box and those goofy shows, oh no way! Wouldn’t that be boring?”

Charlie is very dedicated to his work, a place where his abilities are recognized. At PRIDE he has made friends and can be himself. He finds purpose in his job and often asks his supervisor: “What would you do without me?” Olivia’s response is, “I am not sure, but we do not want to find out.”

Never shy to share his life or funny side, Charlie often begins a conversation with, “Can you believe it?” He then proudly follows up with, “People want to know my secret,” as to how he remains youthful and in excellent health. We still do not know his secret.

While Charlie is no spring chicken, as the saying goes, he does not let age slow him down. Although his secret has not been revealed, he may have given us a clue: keep moving. Charlie’s drive comes from working. “Just keep working,” he says. “Who wants to retire? I have been here 23 years.”

Thank you, Charlie, for your dedication to PRIDE Industries and the cafeteria. We are so glad you are part of the PRIDE family.

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.

Adapting to Civilian Life

PRIDE Industries Veteran Shawn

Transitioning from a career in the military to the civilian workforce can be difficult. Veterans gain unique skills, experiences, and leadership abilities during their time in the military, but they often face unemployment and other service-related disabilities when transitioning.

Shawn Moore, 36, is a U.S. Army veteran who served in the infantry for six years. He was also a paratrooper and attended Ranger school. “I did a couple tours in Iraq and Kuwait,” says Shawn. Shawn suffered multiple concussions from mortar and live fire attacks; he was diagnosed with a Traumatic Brain Injury.

Shawn had little real work experience before joining the military. After his service, he had difficulty finding his place in civilian life. The specialized skills he gained while serving his country did not translate easily to civilian job descriptions. Shawn enrolled in college with a plan to become a pharmacist. After three years, the responsibilities of family and a desire to get back to work made him put the plan aside. “I got to the point where I was desperate; I needed to get a job,” says Shawn.

In 2012, Shawn connected to PRIDE Industries through veteran liaison, Frank Goehringer. Soon after, he began working as a materials trades handler on a contract providing facilities services to the Judicial Council of California. Within ten months, he was on a career track: “I worked hard, and I ended up being promoted to building maintenance technician,” says Shawn.

In his new role, Shawn works with a team of highly skilled tradesmen and engineers out of the Gordon D. Schaber Sacramento County Courthouse – one of 70 courts that PRIDE Industries maintains. “I have learned a lot about electricity, HVAC and motor exchanges – all while working with the community,” says Shawn.

Shawn gained more than specialized trade skills in his position; he found something missing from his military days. “There is a bond that you get when you are in the military; it is like a brotherhood. When you get out of the military, it is hard to find that. Since joining PRIDE, I have gotten that back.”

Although Shawn has excelled in his career at PRIDE, his journey has not been easy. When Shawn first joined PRIDE, he was full of jitters and apprehension. “I was worried about keeping the job because I had not had a job for a long time,” says Shawn. “It was tough getting out of the military.” Leaving the familiar for an unknown is never easy. “They helped me bring that person out. It is nice to know that I was more than I thought I was – in a good way.”

The job has not only helped him provide for his family, but it has allowed him to grow and regain confidence in his abilities and skills. Today, Shawn has set his sights on becoming a full-fledged engineer. “Working with these guys helped me to open up,” Shawn says. “They have also steered me back to school.”

His time in the military stays with him, even today. “To be honest, I have not completely adapted to civilian life. It is always something inside of you that you keep when you get out of the military,” says Shawn. But he has a message for other veterans: “Sometimes it is difficult to take that next step. I have many friends who are veterans with disabilities, and I have told them to call PRIDE. Give it a shot.”

Shawn’s next goal is to purchase his own home and send his children to college – including the new one that he and his wife, Bobby Jean are expecting this fall. “I want to make sure that my family is taken care of.”

As a military man, Shawn took care of his country. At PRIDE, we’re proud to provide a welcome space, training and opportunity for veterans like Shawn to work their way back to taking care of their own.

Click the video below to view Shawn’s Journey to PRIDE.

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!

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!”

PRIDE Industries_ Eric_Selfie at Airport

“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!

Finding Meaning and Pride

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Connie Lewis, a job coach at PRIDE Industries, had a rough start in life. Born to an underprivileged family in Alabama, her parents struggled to provide for their three young daughters. To make ends meet, Connie’s family lived with her grandmother. Life was not easy.

Connie’s mother had a hunch that one of her little girls was hard-of-hearing. She also seemed to be developing a speech impediment. Unfortunately, the family was unable to provide the necessary medical care and quality of life she deserved. At five-years-old, Connie was put up for adoption.

Sometimes, there are blessings in disguise. After her adoption, life quickly changed for Connie. Her adoptive parents provided a new beginning. Connie’s adoptive mother was a speech therapist and an audiologist. Soon after her adoption, Connie received a set of hearing aids that also helped her gain speech. The use of hearing aids provided a completely new world for Connie.

Connie did her best to adjust to her new life while managing to maintain a relationship with her biological family. After graduating from high school, Connie attended the Alabama School for the Deaf where she met her husband, who is also deaf. They married and had two daughters. For the first few years, Connie stayed home with her daughters. When she decided to join the workforce, Connie struggled to find and keep employment as a result of her disability. Connie never complained; she focused on the future, knowing she would find the right opportunity.

On April 2013, Connie Lewis, connected with PRIDE Industries team at Fort Rucker, Alabama. Connie was hired as a job coach providing American Sign Language (ASL) translation at the base. “This is what I was looking for,” Connie says. “I can practice using ASL with PRIDE’s deaf employees while helping with their job needs.” Job coaches are dedicated and talented individuals who understand individuals’ unique needs and provide support to ensure success at work. “Connie was a huge part of the Fort Rucker start-up as she helped our employees with disabilities transition into their new jobs,” says Stephany Marshall, a PRIDE Rehabilitation Counselor, and Connie’s supervisor. “She has played a vital role as a facilitator in communication between our employees who are deaf and their supervisors and co-workers.”

It is PRIDE’s mission to help individuals with a wide range of disabilities succeed at work; assistive technologies play a vital role in supporting individuals with hearing or sight challenges. P3™ enabled tablets, and mobile devices provide on-demand live ASL translator for better communication at work. Connie was provided with a tablet loaded with P3™ communication software as an additional support for hard-of-hearing and deaf employees at the base.

PRIDE’s structured support services include job coaches, case managers, counselors, and supervisors who understand each person’s strengths and challenges. Support services help individuals get the assistance they need and remove obstacles to employment.

Connie is motivated by helping others find success and self-esteem; she finds fulfillment in her work at PRIDE.

“Connie attributes her love for the job to her disability; having been hearing impaired her whole life and unable to verbally communicate until the age of five,” Marshall says. “Connie can relate to and understand the obstacles and challenges individuals with disabilities experience.”

Helping People With Disabilities Succeed

PRIDE Industries Fort Bliss Mac

Mynor “Mac” McCray joined the PRIDE Industries team at Fort Bliss, TX in 2009 as a Distribution and Inventory Manager. Mac has a form of Macular Degeneration, a condition that causes the center of the retina (the macula) to degenerate. This area of the eye makes possible the central vision needed for reading, driving, recognizing colors and other daily life activities.

Mac is a U.S. Marine Corps veteran. He served as an inspector/instructor of a Reserve unit during the Gulf War. His eyesight worsened after separating from the military. Mac coped with his vision loss and continued to look for employment to support his family. He landed a job but says; “I had to lie about my vision during the interview. If I had mentioned it, it would have scared away the employer knowing that I was legally blind.” With the help of a few adaptive devices such as magnifying glasses, Mac was able to complete his tasks and managed to keep his job for 14 years. As the years passed, his eyes worsened. “I truly became fearful for my ability to perform up to my standards,” Mac says.

Despite efforts to continue life as normal, his eyesight increasingly became a concern. Mac recalls the moment his eyes drastically worsened: he was driving on a California freeway and had to pull off the road to avoid an accident because of his inability to see clearly. Mac visited an ophthalmologist who diagnosed a hereditary type of Macular Degeneration. “While this was a scary time for me,” Mac says, “I learned to adapt to the new method of getting around with the assistance of my wife who does the driving.”

In an effort to be closer to family, Mac, his wife, and children decided to relocate. He resigned his position and moved to El Paso, Texas where his wife is originally from. “It was a hard decision to make. Not knowing how long I would be out of work and having to support a family,” Mac says. Starting over in a new city is never an easy task, especially with a disability. His determination and willpower were tested Mac says; “I searched for a job day in and day out, I made it my job to find a job.” Fortunately, Mac was referred to PRIDE Industries at Fort Bliss, TX; he interviewed and was hired.

To help him succeed, PRIDE provided Mac with computer accessibility software. Without the ZoomText program, Mac would not be able to do his job. The software magnifies everything on the screen. It also has a talking feature that reads everything he does on the computer. A ZoomText keyboard was also provided, which features larger than average keys.

As the Distribution and Inventory Manager on PRIDE’s, facilities maintenance contract at Fort Bliss, Mac is responsible for two warehouses and three storage rooms located on the base. Mac and his team of 22-issue parts to PRIDE technicians, store frequently used items and receive special orders. He and his team are responsible for purchasing all materials required to keep PRIDE’s machines running in good order. They manage all fleet vehicles and equipment on the base. Together, they support PRIDE Industries’ 480 employees with the items required to perform their daily tasks. Mac always strives for improvement. He is currently working on becoming a Certified Purchasing Manager (CPM).

As a father of three young daughters, Mac feels fortunate to be able to provide for his family despite his disability. “I am able to send my children to great private schools, and they can participate in activities that would otherwise be unaffordable,” Mac says. “PRIDE Industries has afforded me the opportunity to work in an awesome environment.”

For nearly 50 years, PRIDE Industries has been providing support services and opportunities for those most often excluded from employment:  people with disabilities like Mac. “I need not worry about hiding my disability as I have in the past. PRIDE’s mission is one of compassion and one that I feel very excited to be a part of.”

“The best part about working for PRIDE Industries is the comfort in knowing that I do not have to be embarrassed about my vision or feel that I cannot contribute,” Mac says. “I can honestly say that this is the best company I have ever worked for.”