Chelsea Davis’s New Beginning: How Employment Services for People with Disabilities Can Change Lives

In late 2019, Chelsea Davis was undergoing inpatient treatment for drug addiction. She was also suffering from severe bipolar depression and anxiety. For these reasons, Chelsea believed that employment was, for her, out of reach.

Then a relative told her about PRIDE Industries and its employment services for people with disabilities.

“I never thought I could get a job, let alone keep one, after living the life I chose for so many years,” Chelsea said. “PRIDE Industries gave me that chance.”

After learning about PRIDE Industries, Chelsea tracked found its website and began searching for open positions.

“I was hesitant at first—applying at such a big company,” said Chelsea. “It was PRIDE Industries’ mission that got me to apply. I realized they help people who’ve experienced things like anxiety and depression.”

A few weeks later, while still in rehabilitation, Chelsea interviewed for a position as an EVS tech at the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation California Health Care Facility (CDCR-CHCF). Days later, when she found out she’d gotten the job, she was thrilled.

“PRIDE Industries accommodated my schedule during my entire time in rehab,” Chelsea said. “This allowed me to take time off for doctor appointments and to manage medication changes.”

Chelsea has been working at the facility as a PRIDE Industries employee ever since—exhibiting leadership skills from the start, even as she navigated early recovery.

“PRIDE Industries leadership and HR took me in,” said Chelsea. “They taught me, and they cared about me while I was still learning to care for myself. I had no work ethic and no hope to gain any, but they changed all of that for me. They have basically raised me in this area of my life.”

Lauri Alsup, Environmental Services Director at CDCR-CHCF, is one of the PRIDE Industries leaders who saw Chelsea’s potential.

“Right off the bat when I met Chelsea, I was blown away by her personality and positivity,” said Lauri. “I could recognize right away that she was going places.”

And go, Chelsea did. After just nine months in her entry-level position, Chelsea was promoted to Assistant Operations Manager. From there, she skipped the next step up, and, in June 2022, moved into the role of Acting Operations Manager for the facility’s third watch (swing shift). That November, she was placed into the role permanently. As she did in each of her previous positions, she has excelled in this one.

“Chelsea has all those unteachable skills,” said Lauri. “You can learn operational flow and workflow, but she has people skills.”

Those are skills Chelsea draws on every day at CDCR CHCF, a 1,200-bed, 1.4 million-square-foot men’s correctional facility that specializes in mental health. Chelsea’s day there starts with three security checks, after which she meets with her operations manager. Then she huddles with her team for what’s referred to as the “pass-down.” During the pass-down, Chelsea gets notified of any pending issues, injuries, or emergencies that transpired during the previous shift.

“Let’s say an inmate decided to stuff his toilet with bedding and flush it a hundred times,” Lauri said. “Chelsea will figure out what needs to be done there.

Employment Services for People with Disabilities, Perseverance, and People Skills: A Perfect Combination for CDCR-CHCF

From creative problem-solving to training and coaching employees with disabilities to advocating for them in their interactions with the inmates, Chelsea’s people skills are among her greatest strengths.

“Maybe that’s where my past has helped me,” she said. “I can understand where some of the inmates come from. People assume they’re all there for big things, but it’s not always that way, and we can’t know their backgrounds.”

This attitude exemplifies another trait of Chelsea’s that enables her to interact effectively with people: Empathy—the ability to place one’s self in another’s shoes. Often honed through adversity, empathy is increasingly recognized as an imperative when it comes to leadership. And, when it comes to her team, Chelsea has it in spades.

“I won’t ever forget what it’s like to be out there cleaning up some of the things my team has to,” she said. “I love them and appreciate all they do.”

At the end of the day, a quote Chelsea recently found sums up her leadership philosophy: “Build a team so strong that you don’t know who the boss is.”

Continuing Achievements

On March 7, 2024, Chelsea reached another major milestone: Five years clean—and all of the personal and professional good that comes with it.

“I still struggle on some days,” said Chelsea. “But, with PRIDE Industries, I have support and a sense of purpose—the desire to keep moving forward.”

When asked what she most enjoys about her job, Chelsea is quick to say it’s about giving back.

“I’m in a position to give others the individual accommodations, guidance, and support they need to be successful,” she said. “Everything that was given to me, I’m able to give back to other people.”

When it comes to employment services for people with disabilities, we at PRIDE Industries understand that this is a people-first proposition. All human beings have unique abilities to bring to the workforce. Sometimes, all they need is a little help to get started . . . and then, as is the case with Chelsea, the sky is the limit.

Make a social impact

PRIDE Industries builds inclusive, diverse work environments where people with disabilities can thrive. Is your company seeking well-trained, reliable employees? Join our Employment Partner Network today.

“I never thought I could get a job, let alone keep one, after living the life I chose for so many years. PRIDE Industries gave me that chance.”

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