People with Disabilities

Every day, thousands of people receive packages from Amazon on their front doorstep. Helping make this rapid turn-around possible, Associate Kenneth “Kenny” Valdivia contributes significantly to Amazon’s warehouse team in Los Angeles, CA. With a positive, can-do attitude, he sorts and scans packages each shift to ensure they reach their correct destination.


Kenny is on the Autism Spectrum (ASD), a developmental disability that affects communication, behavior, and interaction with others. Depending on the individual, symptoms can be mild or severe. Although awareness of the autism spectrum is increasing, it is still misunderstood, which can make getting a job difficult. Like many individuals who are on the Autism Spectrum, Kenny struggled to find employment where he could feel fulfilled and achieve his potential.


With the help of PRIDE Industries’ job placement and employment services for people with autism, Kenny was able to procure employment with Amazon, a job that he truly enjoys.

Helping People with Autism Find Employment

“I received my Autism diagnosis as a child,” said Kenny. “My parents had never heard of Autism before and didn’t know how to help me adjust with the symptoms. Growing up, it was often difficult making friends since they didn’t understand my disability.”

Despite earlier challenges, things started getting better when Kenneth began attending a high school program designed for young adults on the Autism Spectrum. “I started making more friends and gained confidence in my own voice. I have always known that I have the same abilities as everyone else; I sometimes need a different approach when it comes to communication.”

After graduating from a vocational skills certification program, Kenny started to look for employment in a warehouse environment. Despite his qualifications and hard work ethic, job interviews proved to be a significant obstacle to getting a job offer, as he struggled with eye contact and communication. 

This changed in October 2018 when Kenny’s Department of Rehabilitation counselor referred him to PRIDE Industries’ Employment Services, which placed him into a Warehouse Associate Position with Amazon in Los Angeles.

Since 2017, PRIDE Industries has partnered with Amazon as an Alternative Workforce Supplier to recruit, assess, interview, train, and provide onsite employment support for people with Autism. PRIDE leverages their person-centered services including assessments, job skills development, training, placement, and ongoing support to ensure long-term employment success.

“From the start of the training, Kenny was eager to start the day, and he learned quickly,” said PRIDE Job Coach Catalina Hurtado. “His enthusiasm is appreciated by his colleagues and supervisors. Kenny is very driven and always pushing himself to reach his units per hour.”

Getting a Job Is Just the Beginning

Employment brings much more than a paycheck; it also helps individuals develop confidence and purpose. The resilience that Kenny developed through the difficult times motivated him to help others on the Autism Spectrum. “Throughout my life, I have relied on movies, music, and comedy to feel less alone,” said Kenny. “It inspired me to create my own medium to show others my experiences, challenges, and dreams for the future.” He developed his own YouTube channel to tell his story.


“Since starting my channel, I have been proud to educate and raise awareness for Autism; I feel like I was created this way to help others,” said Kenny. “A highlight was helping out a friend from church after his child had been diagnosed with Autism. He had never heard about Autism or knew what to expect for his child’s future. Showing him some of my videos helped him understand more about this disability.”


“While I am working on expanding my YouTube channel, my job at Amazon gives me a way to support myself while growing my skills,” said Kenny. “I feel appreciated for what I contribute to our team.”


As his online presence continues to grow, Kenny aims to eventually use his storytelling experience to gain a career in the movie and entertainment industry. “I am inspired by actors like Matt Damon and Mark Wahlberg; it would be a dream for me to meet and thank them for their work. I would also like to make it to their level of influence to reach people internationally and to travel to different countries in South America, Europe, and Asia.”

Interested in joining our team?

PRIDE Industries is always looking for talented individuals to join our team. Apply below to one of our open positions.

“From the start of the training, Kenny was eager to start the day, and he learned quickly,” said PRIDE Job Coach Catalina Hurtado. “His enthusiasm is appreciated by his colleagues and supervisors.”

Jonathan Hales reached a significant milestone recently when he passed the trial period of his new job at Dos Coyotes Border Café in the Sacramento International Airport. With his enthusiasm and excellent customer service, he continuously helps to brighten up the busy atmosphere for hundreds of travelers.


Despite his recent success, finding a job was not an easy task initially. “I have a learning disability,” explains Jonathan. “Sometimes I need a little extra help and more detailed job descriptions.”

Job Training, Placement, and Resume Writing Help

In January 2018, Jonathan relocated to Sacramento from New Jersey with his brother. After almost six months of searching for a steady job without luck, he decided to reach out for help. Jonathan was referred to PRIDE Industries’ Employment Services, which provides a variety of job training and resources to individuals with disabilities. 


PRIDE Industries’ Employment Services connected Jonathan with Job Developer Latasha Funches. Together, they worked on writing Jonathan’s resume to highlight his skills and strengths, practiced interviewing, and searched for jobs.

“Jonathan was wonderful to work with,” says Latasha. “He showed real dedication to getting a job, including always participating in job club, applying to jobs by himself, following up with potential employers. Jonathan is such a self-starter, and we need more people like him!”


In November 2018, both of their hard work and tenacity paid off when Jonathan was hired on the spot by Dos Coyotes. Along with a paycheck, his job also came with benefits that started on the first day. Latasha helped him fill out paperwork and new hire documents, and Jonathan was able to start work immediately.

A Little Job Help Goes a Long Way to a Bright Future

In his position, Jonathan works in the kitchen washing dishes, performs light cleaning, and disposes of trash and recyclables while abiding by the strict airport security rules. He has been thriving in his new environment, and truly enjoys the work.


“My favorite part of my job is working with customers and helping them out. I like making people happy by smiling and asking how their day is, especially in a more stressful place like the airport,” he said.


Jonathan’s colleagues and manager appreciate his great attitude and demeanor. “My manager always tells me to keep up the good work! I am continuing to grow in my role by helping to train new employees. It’s been a very welcoming and inclusive place to work, and I have more confidence in myself.”


“The first day I went out there, the manager was so impressed with him!” says John Edwards, PRIDE’s SMF Airport Job Coach. “He is doing so well and started working without support in the first week. I follow up with him every once and while, and he has thrived in this position.”


With a paycheck comes increased independence; Jonathan has used the earnings from his job to visit his family in New Jersey. “My family is incredibly important to me, and I felt so proud to tell them about my new job!” With some help from his older brother, Jonathan now has a car and no longer relies on ride-sharing options for transportation.


Now that Jonathan has passed his probation period, he will work independently with the help of his Job Coach and Job Developer, if needed.  He is considering attending school in the future but would like to continue building skills in his current position. We wish him the best in his career path!

A path to a fulfilling career

PRIDE Industries' employment services will help you with writing your resume or finding a job.
Jonathan and John
Jonathan Hales found success with PRIDE Industries' help

“My family is incredibly important to me, and I felt so proud to tell them about my new job!”

As college and vocational programs become even more critical to establishing a career, tuition and fees continue to rise, providing financial obstacles towards obtaining a diploma. These increases can especially hit students with disabilities hard; currently only about a third of students with disabilities who enroll in a four-year college or university graduate. For those who enroll in a community college program, less than half earn a diploma.


To help students with disabilities achieve their career goals by completing higher education, PRIDE Industries is proud to offer scholarships to colleges and universities in areas where we operate, including El Camino College, a two-year public community college near our Los Angeles AFB contract in El Segundo, CA.


The following letters were written by El Camino College’s 2018 recipients of the PRIDE Industries Scholarship for Students for Disabilities:


I appreciate your scholarship. Last year I was diagnosed with cancer, and due to the expensive cost of my treatment, I had a hard time paying my tuition fees. However, I was helped by your scholarship, as well as my family and husband.


My dream is to be a CPA, and I am working towards earning a license. I also would like to work to help others. This scholarship encourages me to pursue my dream, and I won’t give up. I wish I could say thank you in person.


Thank you for awarding me the PRIDE Industries scholarship; it will help me pay for books and save money to use towards transferring to a four-year university to pursue a nursing degree. Every little bit counts and I consider this to be a big help.


This is my first time getting a scholarship. I am motivated to do better, and my stress levels have been reduced, letting me focus better in class. Thank you for lending a helpful hand in my educational journey.

We are proud to help further the academic and career goals of our scholarship recipients, congratulations on your achievements!

Move forward in your career

PRIDE Industries provides internships, job coaching and training programs, work transportation, assistive technology, and so much more for people with disabilities. Find out how we can help you pursue your career goals.

“Thank you for awarding me the PRIDE Industries scholarship; it will help me pay for books and save money to use towards transferring to a four-year university to pursue a nursing degree.”

American Sign Language (ASL) is a language involving signs made by moving the hands combined with facial expressions and postures of the body. It is the primary language of many Americans who are deaf or hard-of-hearing and estimated to be utilized by 250,000 – 500,000 people.


At PRIDE’s Ft. Bliss site in El Paso, TX, many employees are deaf and hard-of-hearing. To facilitate communication between all employees and our customers, PRIDE’s Rehabilitation team of Job Coaches, ASL Interpreters, and Rehabilitation Counselors is ready to translate from English or Spanish to ASL, as well as Spanish to LSM (Lengua de Señas Mexicana/Mexican Sign Language) when needed.


Working to help individuals in the El Paso, TX community who want to pursue a career in sign language interpretation, PRIDE’s Ft. Bliss Rehabilitation Department annually partners with El Paso Community College (EPCC) to host two sign language student interns in the spring. This opportunity allows future interpreters and communication support personnel to gain hands-on experience, learn vocational sign language and practice their counseling skills.


In November, EPCC invited PRIDE ASL Interpreter and Job Coach (and EPCC Alumna) Melissa Cruz to present a lecture on Specialized Vocabulary for the students attending EPCC’s Sign Language course. Before joining PRIDE, Melissa worked in many different interpreting settings including post-secondary education, medical, mental health, and vocational trades.  She shared her insights on how to interpret on unfamiliar topics and/or specialized vocabulary (including vocational terminology), using her experiences in translating between employees and our military customer at PRIDE’s Integrated Facilities Management contract at Ft. Bliss. She received the following letter of appreciation from EPCC:

Thank you for partnering with the El Paso Community College Sign Language Interpreter Preparation Program on November 14th, 2018. I appreciate you taking the time to come in and share your experiences and knowledge with the students, who all left feeling inspired and energized. You taught our students how to acquire specialized vocabulary as a Sign Language interpreter, and they learned a great deal that they could immediately apply to their practice. It is indeed a gift when working interpreters come in to share their experiences and advice.


Thank you again for your time and energy in presenting to the interpreting students. It was truly my pleasure.”

PRIDE scholarships

PRIDE Industries is also proud to provide scholarships to students with disabilities enrolled in colleges and universities in specific areas where we operate, including EPCC.

Did You Know?

American SIgn Language (ASL) is estimated to be utilized by 250,000 – 500,000 Americans

“Hopefully my insight will give these students some preparation for an ever-changing profession,” said Melissa. “I’m so proud of where I work.”

National Disability Employment Awareness Month (NDEAM) is an annual campaign that takes place in October. NDEAM aims to promote workplace inclusion by increasing awareness about the challenges and contributions of workers with disabilities. 2018’s theme is “America’s Workforce: Empowering All.”


In honor of National Disability Employment Awareness Month, we invite your business to consider partnering with PRIDE Industries. We will pair you with dedicated, qualified employees who enjoy being productive and making a contribution to their community while excelling in their position.

Employment Programs to Promote Inclusion at Work

People with disabilities often face significant barriers to employment. These barriers result in lower rates of participation in the labor force and higher unemployment rates compared to non-disabled workers. Yet when they are able to find fulfilling work, they perform well and tend to have a high retention rate.


Employment is essential to an individual’s sense of purpose, dignity, inclusion and economic growth, ultimately resulting in a happier life. With a history spanning over 50 years, PRIDE Industries is one of the largest employers of people with disabilities nationwide. We focus on abilities rather than disabilities, and our inclusive programs and services help individuals overcome obstacles to employment. We also provide opportunities at all skill levels to help candidates from all walks of life  achieve their definition of success and self-sufficiency.


By partnering with PRIDE Industries, your business can leverage our person-centered services including assessments, job skills development, training, placement, transportation, and ongoing support to ensure long-term employment success and inclusion at work. PRIDE places people in its business lines and provides support to individuals in community-based opportunities.

Workplace inclusion benefits all

When inclusion at work becomes a goal for your business, everyone wins. Learn more about the many ways you can work with PRIDE Industries to build an inclusive workplace, expand your staff, and create jobs for people with disabilities.

Year after year wildfires are becoming more frequent and more extensive, especially in the West Coast. August and September were particularly busy months for PRIDE Industries Transit department due to their involvement in the community.


On average, PRIDE Transit provides more than 1,200 daily shuttle rides to individuals with disabilities – working at PRIDE Industries or in the community. Often, for people with disabilities, access to transportation is a barrier to employment. Transportation provides an essential lifeline for people with disabilities to connect with employment opportunities, skills development, vocational related services, and the community.


PRIDE Industries Transit has a fleet of 60 vehicles covering 52 routes each morning and afternoon. Three buses are based and operate in Yuba and Sutter Counties, 20 are based in Auburn that operate in the foothills of both Nevada and Placer Counties, the remainder are based in Roseville at PRIDE headquarters and operate in Placer and Sacramento Counties.

PRIDE Transit vehicles are small enough to maneuver in rural areas and are equipped with mobility lifts.

Accessible vehicles are not only essential for providing transportation for people with a wide range of disabilities but also senior citizens and those with mobility restrictions. As it was the case in early September when a wildfire threatened the safety of an elderly community in the Foresthill area in Placer County, CA. “A call came into transit dispatch from the Placer County Public Health Department, requesting buses for the possible evacuation of a senior citizen mobile home park in the area,” says Jeff Murray, PRIDE’s Transportation Manager. “PRIDE Industries Transit responded by dispatching seven drivers and vehicles to the command center staging area.”


PRIDE Transit vehicles are small enough to maneuver in rural areas and are equipped with mobility lifts. The vehicles allow for ease of loading and transporting individuals requiring mobility aid. During this evacuation effort, four of the seven shuttles along with their driver spent the night at the staging area ready for immediate emergency evacuation scenario. Luckily, no one had to be evacuated, and all the residents of the senior living community were safe.


Later the team received a heartfelt note from the Placer County Sheriff’s Office, “You don’t know what a relief it is having you here. We didn’t know how we were going to get all those people out of there until you showed up.”


PRIDE’s Transit team is committed to providing outstanding service to the community and participates in the Placer County Mass Evacuation training. In recent years, the team has assisted in other evacuation efforts along with participating in community events such as the 1st Annual Association of the US Army (AUSA) Veterans Business Forum.

Media Contact
Kat Maudru

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

Did You Know?

PRIDE’s Transit team participates in the Placer County Mass Evacuation training.