Andrew (Andy) Emore joined the PRIDE Industries team at Joint Base McGuire–Dix–Lakehurst (JB-MDL), NJ, in March of 2013 as a Grounds Maintenance Laborer. Within his first year, his hard work was recognized and he earned a promotion to Tractor Operator.
Andy was born deaf to parents who are also deaf; he identifies with deaf culture. In his early educational years, he was mainstreamed in a school that had a small group of children who were deaf. Andy was with this group until third grade. Due to a lack of funding and budget cuts, he was forced to go to another school where he was the only deaf student. “It was very frustrating,” Andy said, “every day was more of a struggle to get the teachers to understand my deafness instead of me being able to learn from them and focus on my studies. Now looking back, schooling was a struggle due to misconceptions and a lack of awareness of my deafness and my disability. They didn’t think that I could actually do the same things as other students.”
“Because of a lot of my experiences and challenges growing up, I became dependent on alcohol. My deafness and dependency on alcohol impeded my ability to keep long-standing employment. Now I am a recovering alcoholic, five years sober, thanks to a strong core of support: my family and my close friend, who actively served this country for over 10 years. I also grew up in a military family. This instilled in me a great respect. Even though I cannot directly serve in the military, it is an honor to support the members of military and their family by maintaining the base. The job that I do is not comparable to the sacrifice that they make for us every day.”
“From the first day of my PRIDE orientation, I was welcomed wonderfully. I am grateful to have been hired at PRIDE Industries; I have received unlimited support. PRIDE doesn’t just hire people with disabilities; they really know how to support and accommodate. Job coaches, who are also interpreters, have always been there to help facilitate communication and even clarify training where needed. The rehabilitation staff supports, encourages and advocates for people with disabilities, and they help them succeed by overcoming challenges. Every day, I’m still amazed at the support I receive. Personally, I feel finally someone gets it. Those in my environment and company don’t just perceive it as their jobs, and they don’t just draw the line with advocacy, but they help us stomp out the stigma of what it means to be a person with a disability. PRIDE’s mission helps us feel like a person – not just a number.”
“I believe in myself a lot more, and know that it is okay to do well. I have always known that I was capable, but working for PRIDE Industries has given me the confidence to find success in potential and in failure. As a Tractor Operator, I now get to work with other operators and members of the Grounds department. Since winter is coming, I am also a member of the snow removal team. I like working with big machines because my dad was a mechanic for 40 years and I grew up around all the large equipment (I was the breaker, and he was the fixer). My long term goal is to become a Heavy Equipment Operator.”
With the support of his Department of Vocational Rehabilitation Counselor, and the on-the-job training he has received at PRIDE, Andy is already taking steps towards this goal. He says, “I always wanted to be outside working on the big toys. It makes me happy to be able to work with others with challenges similar and different to my own. Owning my own home and the opportunity to make a good steady income until retirement is also in my plans.”
“One of the biggest misconceptions people have about deafness is that it affects intelligence. To anyone reading this; don’t doubt yourself- give yourself the chance you need to succeed. We were all born with different challenges for different reasons, and everyone has a purpose. I look forward to each and every day coming to work, to learn new things and be able to bring my abilities to the table.”