Finding a new career after leaving the workforce due to illness or disability can often be a daunting task, which is why PRIDE Industries offers employment help to individuals who are facing obstacles in their job pursuits.
Joey Guillot is a carpenter at PRIDE Industries’ contract at Fort Johnson (formerly Fort Polk) in Louisiana. After a long period of unemployment, Joey found a new place and career at PRIDE. To get to this point, he worked with much determination to overcome numerous barriers. His story is an inspiration.
Employment Services to Help Overcome Obstacles
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. However, he was able to find work in the community and build a self-sufficient life.
Years later, 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 near-paralysis, and, he was forced to leave the workforce in 2001. After the unexpected death of his wife of 25 years, Joey also began to struggle with depression and alcohol abuse.
As 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.
Joey worked closely with his LRS counselors to manage his depression and maintain sobriety. Even so, searching for a new career was not an easy task; Joey struggled to get an interview and was unable to complete a GED program or learn another trade. Fortunately, in 2014 LRS referred Joey to a job training program at PRIDE Industries’ contract at Ft. Polk.
Job Training & Placement Services for People with Disabilities
PRIDE ended up being the perfect opportunity for Joey; after job placement and 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.