People with Disabilities

Angie Rao is a shining example of PRIDE Industries’ hard working, dedicated employees! Angie celebrated thirty years of employment as a courtesy clerk at Bel Air Grocery Store, and Good Day Sacramento joined the party to document the celebration.

 

Angie was featured in two videos on GoodDay Sacramento. View below:

Congratulations, Angie!
Media Contact
Kat Maudru

PRIDE Industries is a social enterprise delivering business excellence to public and private organizations nationwide.

Almost everyone has a dream career that they aim to reach. National Disability Employment Awareness Month (NDEAM) recognizes this fact. For three decades, NDEAM has celebrated the talent and drive of people of all abilities and advocated greater access to job opportunities.


PRIDE Industries has supported NDEAM since its inception, and we’ve championed the goals of NDEAM for even longer. For more than 50 years, PRIDE Industries has had a single mission: to create jobs for people with disabilities. Over the years, we’ve helped many talented people with disabilities find the job they’ve always wanted.


One such person is Dilver Funes, “F.D.,” who achieved his career goal as a PRIDE employee at Los Angeles Air Force Base (LAAFB), where he is putting his electrical technical skills to good use.


Getting to this point involved much perseverance; F.D. used to experience grand mal seizures several times a week – preventing him from participating in many common activities, such as driving. Despite having the qualifications and desire to work, F.D. had to give up his position at a mechanic’s shop because he could not handle a full 40-hour workweek.


Fortunately, F.D. underwent a life-changing surgery that allows him to live seizure-free. The surgery was a success, but it came with side effects. F.D. experiences short-term memory loss and challenges when processing information. He needs some support, but this has not affected his ambition, and in fact, F.D. earned an electrician’s certificate and has reapplied for his driver’s license.


The next step for F.D. was to rejoin the workforce. In 2019 he contacted the Southern California Resource Services for Independent Living (SCRS). They worked together to find a job position to match his qualifications. In December, they identified the perfect opportunity – a General Maintenance Worker position with PRIDE Industries.


PRIDE’s H.R. Rep and Case Manager, Haydee Garzon, in coordination with SCRS, helped F.D. complete the necessary security steps required to work on a military base. She reports:

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“Once F.D. joined PRIDE, he immediately started to thrive. We are lucky to have him on our team.”

According to F.D.’s supervisor, HVAC Appliance Manager Shannon La Rue, “F.D. has continued to develop his skills and never hesitates to take on a challenge. He is an important part of our team and provides excellent customer service, keeping the military base in shape.”

 

To accommodate some of his disabilities, F.D. received a golf cart to carry around his tools. When the golf cart needed repairs, F.D. learned how to perform the bodywork and fixed it himself – showing his ingenuity and drive.

 

“I appreciate the opportunity to work with PRIDE and to have the extra training and vocational support,” said F.D. I’m enjoying my job so much that I want to stay with PRIDE until I retire.”

Dilver Funes "F.D."

For over 50 years, PRIDE has witnessed firsthand the benefits of a diverse workforce encompassing employees of all abilities. Ray Muro is one such outstanding employee. Ray has worked at the U.S. Army Post Fort Bliss in El Paso, Texas since 2007, where he is an important asset in the Self-Help warehouse.

 

 

Before joining PRIDE, Ray earned an Associate degree in Human Services and Liberal Arts and a Bachelor’s degree in Multi-Disciplinary Studies from the University of Texas, El Paso. Despite his qualifications and enthusiasm, Ray could not find a permanent job due to misconceptions about his disabilities.

 

 

Ray was born with Retinopathy of Prematurity (ROP), an eye disease common in premature babies. It causes abnormal blood vessels to grow in the retina and can lead to blindness, as it did with Ray, who has been blind since childhood. Working-age adults with significant vision loss have a 30% employment rate.

 

 

Hired as a Stock Clerk in the Self-Help shop, Ray manages the inventory of parts such as paint or batteries, registers customers into the database, and categorizes new supplies. To master his position and make it easier for him to navigate the shop, Ray spent two weeks labeling everything with braille stickers to serve customers faster.

 

“When I attended college, I didn’t have access to braille books, so I had to use speech technology or a reader,” said Ray. “But braille often works better. It’s such a powerful tool to help people who are blind navigate the visual world.”

 

Ray is an expert in the shop; he has the entire layout and inventory memorized. He knows all the stock numbers by heart and types them into a braille notetaker to track distribution and verify inventory during cycle counts. Another innovative technology, a computer screen reader that provides speech and Braille output for computers, lets him access all the applications he needs to do his job well.

 

 

“When I first joined PRIDE, I was impressed with how quickly Ray was able to find and retrieve items,” said Lorena Ramos, Warehouse Supervisor. “He recognizes every customer that walks in, and we always receive feedback for his friendly attitude and excellent work.”

Attention Employers

Need help hiring talented and motivated people with disabilities at your company?

October 2020 marks the 75th anniversary of National Disability Employment Awareness Month (NDEAM). Established by the Department of Labor in 1945, NDEAM celebrates America’s workers with disabilities and reminds employers of the importance of inclusive hiring practices.

 

This year’s NDEAM is especially significant, as 2020 also marks 30 years since the passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). This act prohibited discrimination based on disability, including in the area of employment. It also mandated reasonable accommodations and accessibility for people with disabilities.

 

In recognition of the ADA’s 30th anniversary, this year’s NDEAM theme is “Increasing Access and Opportunity.” That’s a goal that PRIDE embraces heartily, as it has been part of our mission for more than 50 years.

A Mission of Inclusivity, A History of Success

PRIDE Industries was founded in 1966 as a nonprofit with a straightforward mission: to create jobs for people with disabilities. Since its beginning, PRIDE has adhered to this singular goal, but the paths we’ve taken to carry out our mission have evolved over the years.

 

When few businesses would hire people with disabilities, PRIDE’s founders decided to create the jobs themselves, making PRIDE a rare entity at the time. Years later, in the early 1980s, PRIDE began selling services to other companies, thus transitioning to a nonprofit social enterprise. We are one of the earliest organizations to demonstrate how effective the social enterprise model can be.

 

One of the first services offered by PRIDE was kitting and fulfillment. This business line is still important to the company, employing hundreds of people with disabilities, but it is no longer the only service we offer. Today, our employees work in various fields across the country, manufacturing medical devices, maintaining buildings, managing inventory, performing sustainable environmental and custodial services, and providing technical support.

 

As a nonprofit social enterprise, 100% of PRIDE’s revenue directly supports our mission, allowing us to provide employment services to even more people across the nation. The money earned by our lines of business serves two purposes. It enables us to pay desirable wages and maintain PRIDE’s infrastructure, and it funds our network of support programs for people with disabilities. Today PRIDE employs more than 5,600 people, including more than 3,300 people with disabilities, making us the country’s leading nonprofit employer of people with disabilities.

 

PRIDE offers a wide range of services to help people who face employment barriers, a population that includes service-injured veterans and former foster youth. We provide job training, employee recruitment, and on-the-job coaching for people of all skill levels. And our personalized approach means that everyone who joins us benefits from a program designed to maximize their success.

A New Path: PRIDE Introduces Inclusive Talent Solutions

At PRIDE, we’ve long known that employees with disabilities can be highly productive. And our employees—through their hard work and dedication—have proven this to our many customers.

 

But perhaps the biggest proof of our success is the number of companies now seeking our expertise to develop a more inclusive workforce. They’ve realized that employees with diverse abilities make many valuable contributions, and they’ve seen the studies showing that employees with disabilities have high retention rates, low absenteeism, and a positive effect on workplace culture.

 

But while many companies are now interested in the advantages conferred by an inclusive workforce, few know how to create and maintain a diverse employee base. They lack the workforce planning expertise, internal training tools, or regulatory knowledge needed to work with a diverse population. Because of this, some companies are hesitant to pursue the goal of an inclusive workforce, despite its many advantages.

 

In keeping with our mission, PRIDE created a new service to help these companies. Inclusive Talent Solutions (ITS) recruits, trains, and provides ongoing coaching for people with disabilities at our partner companies. Our goal is to make it easy for businesses to create an inclusive workforce and decrease the barriers to employment faced by people with disabilities.

 

ITS represents a new path for PRIDE. It’s yet another way for us to fulfill our mission to support even more people with disabilities. That’s why we’ve chosen to launch this new service in conjunction with the 75th anniversary of the NDEAM. The NDEAM is a celebration of the many contributions made by people with disabilities in the workplace. PRIDE is pleased to be able to help more companies benefit from these contributions.

The key to any successful workplace is open and efficient communication. Perhaps no one knows this better than Job Coach and ASL Translator Christina Alderete, who provides interpreting services for PRIDE Industries. Christina is an El Paso, TX native who works at PRIDE’s Fort Bliss contract. There, she delivers crucial communication to employees with her trilingual abilities in English, Spanish, and ASL. 

 

“In a border town like El Paso, TX, one is bound to be multicultural at heart,” Christina said. “Growing up bilingual in English and Spanish, I became a translator at an early age for my father and grandparents.”

Years later, the need for trilingual ASL interpreting services in the Hispanic Deaf population was growing. With this in mind, a friend encouraged Christina to learn ASL. So that’s exactly what she did.    

 

“In my ASL interpreter preparation program, you were highly encouraged to engage with the Deaf community, as you learn how Deaf people perceive signs and actions,” she said. “I became acquainted with the ‘Planet EYEth,’ a term the Deaf community sometimes uses to refer to themselves because they use their eyes instead of ears. This experience inspired me, and after graduating in 2014, I joined PRIDE Industries at Fort Bliss as a job coach and ASL translator.”

Providing ASL Services to Improve Employee Communication

Christina’s desire to bridge the communication gap in the Deaf community coincided with PRIDE’s goal to make every workplace more accessible and inclusive through ASL interpreting services and a wide range of other employment resources.

 

For example, many employees at PRIDE who are deaf or hard of hearing hold positions in technical departments, including electrical, HVAC, and plumbing. However, there are many industry specific terms and signs associated with these kinds of skilled trades. To streamline the training process and improve communication for everyone, the PRIDE Vocational Rehabilitation team consulted with employees. Together, they developed a work manual in English, Spanish, and ASL.

 

I truly enjoy using my trilingual abilities and feel privileged to assist both Deaf and hearing employees with interpretation services,” said Christina. “The deaf community at Fort Bliss has been very encouraging and provides excellent feedback to help me become a better interpreter.”  

 

Day to day, Christina enjoys the different ways she applies her ASL interpreting services for each employee. “The most powerful lesson that I have learned as an interpreter is that everyone is different; not all individuals sign the same. Some individuals are highly visual and lack literacy skills in English, so I help them develop strategies to work around that. During my six years at PRIDE, my greatest accomplishment has been observing the progress of the employees I have coached and seeing them succeed in their careers.”

Are you an employee in need of ASL services?

Find out how PRIDE Industries can help you bridge the communication gap at any stage of your employment journey.

“The most powerful lesson that I have learned as an interpreter is that everyone is different; not all individuals sign the same.”

It can be difficult for people who are deaf or hard of hearing to find jobs where they feel confident and understood. This is something PRIDE employee Rogelio Ibañez understands firsthand. This is something PRIDE employee Rogelio Ibañez understands firsthand. In recognition of Deaf Awareness Month, he has shared his story with us. In his story, he also offers insight on how to communicate with those who are deaf or use sign language.

 

At Ft. Bliss, TX, many PRIDE employees are multilingual in both spoken and sign languages. This includes Rogelio Ibañez, who joined the team in 2011 and has continued to thrive in his job at Ft. Bliss, earning a promotion to General Maintenance Worker in 2015.

 

Helping Deaf People Find Jobs where Communication Isn’t a Barrier

Rogelio can communicate in four different languages: LSM (Lengua de Señas Mexicana), Spanish, ASL (American Sign Language), and English. His journey was one of perseverance.  

 

“I was born in Mexico to hearing parents and had three older hearing siblings and a younger one who was also Deaf,” he said. “My family initially didn’t know any sign language but communicated with me through gestures and lip-reading. When I moved to a mainstream school, they did not have an interpreter, so I learned both LSM and Spanish (both different languages in verb inflections, structure, and word order). One of my older siblings also learned LSM to serve as our family interpreter for school, church, and doctor visits.

 

“When I moved to the United States as a teenager, communication was an issue, as I only knew Spanish and LSM. I distinctly remember one time that the police stopped me, and I couldn’t talk to them because they didn’t know Spanish or LSM. Eventually, I met my girlfriend (who would eventually become my wife), and she taught me ASL and English, while I taught her LSM and Spanish. I began to attend Deaf coffee socials in Dallas to meet more people in the Deaf community and improve on ASL. English, however, is still something I am continuing to perfect.”

 

Rogelio faced communication challenges as he searched for work, but then he found PRIDE. In an effort to build an inclusive environment, PRIDE’s job coaches, ASL interpreters, and rehabilitation counselors translate between team members and customers, helping bridge the gap for employees who are deaf or hard of hearing. Assistive technology methods are also used to help employees overcome communication obstacles in their day to day jobs. This atmosphere of inclusivity and access was a true game-changer for Rogelio. 

Preparing Others in the Deaf Community for Job Success

In his spare time Rogelio helps teach a course at El Paso Community College where he  teaches basic signs in LSM and ASL to American students as well as Deaf students from Ciudad Juárez, Mexico. 

 

“It’s such an enjoyable experience to help connect with others who are looking to join this community,” he said. “We all share our goals and obstacles in a supportive environment.”

 

Rogelio offers advice for hearing people looking to improve their communication with those who are deaf, hard of hearing, or use sign language. “Utilize hand gestures or facial expressions. Of course, it depends on the individual’s preference; deaf and hard-of-hearing is not the same thing, and everyone has their own style based on how much they can hear.

 

Many Deaf people, including myself, rely on reading lips. During the COVID-19 pandemic, masks have sometimes been an obstacle, but wearing clear ones can help. Another option is to stand more than six feet apart so we can speak without covering our faces.”

Overcome barriers to achieve goals

PRIDE Industries offers a variety of employment services.
PRIDE employee Rogelio Ibañez

“In former positions, I felt out of place and became frustrated. Joining PRIDE Industries made a difference, as now I am comfortable with the work and can easily speak to my team”.