People with Disabilities

Since December 2015, Mario Garcia worked at PRIDE’s South Sacramento site, as a production associate. At an early age, Mario was diagnosed with an intellectual disability and received special education classes until graduating from high school.

 

Once at PRIDE Industries, Mario’s work ethic, dedication and positive attitude earned him a position within an off-site work group, a critical component of PRIDE’s Supported Employment Program.

 

Our Supported Employment Program partners with local businesses to meet their contracted workforce needs while creating community-based jobs for people with disabilities. PRIDE’s structured approach provides a support system that includes job trainers, case manager/counselors, and supervisors who understand each person’s disability to help these individuals overcome day-to-day challenges.

 

“My case manager did not think of me as a client with a disability,” Mario says. “He always believed in me and made me feel like I could do anything.”

Working in a small group providing support to Visions Paint Recycling in Sacramento, Mario’s efforts were recognized. Earlier this year, the company offered Mario a full-time position as a staff member.

 

At Visions, Mario’s daily tasks include unloading trailers, organizing shipping and receiving of products, sorting recycled paint and more. Mario has taken the skills he learned at PRIDE and applied them to his current job. His supervisors have noted that he is very respectful, dresses appropriately and is one of their hardest workers.

 

The road to full-time community inclusion has not been easy. Each morning is a challenge for Mario since he lacks a driver’s license and must depend on public transportation. Monday thru Friday, he catches the light rail at 5 am, connects to a regional transit bus, and then walks the remainder of the way. This long commute has not deterred Mario from maintaining almost perfect attendance.

 

With grit, determination and motivated by his 13-year-old son, Mario, a single father, provides for his family and overcomes challenges he may face due to his disability. His next goal is to become a supervisor at Visions.

Need employment placement support?

Contact our I AM ABLE Helpline to discuss your options.

“People have underestimated me my whole life. When I came to PRIDE, I was treated with respect.”

Jose “Rogelio” Ibanez is an employee at PRIDE Industries’ Fort Bliss contract. In the multicultural city of El Paso, TX, he can communicate in four different languages: English, American Sign Language (ASL), Spanish and Lengua Senas Mexicanas (LSM – or Mexican Sign Language). Not only has this ability helped him build a strong career in the carpentry shop at PRIDE, but it has also opened a new door into the education field.

 

Rogelio has had a remarkable journey to PRIDE. He was born deaf in Durango, Mexico to hearing parents. This difference created a language barrier early in his life, and Rogelio struggled with communication until he attended a deaf educational morning program to learn LSM. He also gradually acquired Spanish by learning to lip-read on his own. This was no easy accomplishment, as LSM differs from Spanish on verb inflections, structure and word order.

 

When he was a teenager, Rogelio moved to Texas with his family for a better life in the United States. Although he found a better economic environment, moving to a new country presented many new cultural and lingual challenges.

 

Rogelio landed a job in the construction industry and learned to weld, but had difficulty communicating with colleagues who did not know LSM and he struggled with finding steady employment. After becoming acquainted with local members of the deaf community, Rogelio gradually learned both ASL and English.

 

Seeking employment that would provide a steadier and more supportive environment for his disability, Rogelio was referred to PRIDE Industries by the Texas Workforce Commission (TWC) in 2011; he was then hired as a Grounds Maintenance Laborer (GML). In this position, he maintained Fort Bliss parks and streets – making them look their best for our nation’s soldiers. For his excellent work, he was promoted to a General Maintenance Worker (GMW) in 2015. As a GMW in the Between Occupancy Maintenance (BOM) department, Rogelio maintains soldier barracks between deployments.

“I am very fortunate to work for a company that hires and embraces people with disabilities like myself. There needs to be more access and fewer barriers for people with disabilities to advance in the workplace.”

When communication help is needed, PRIDE’s job coaches at Fort Bliss are there to facilitate; they are also fluent in English, American Sign Language, Spanish and Mexican Sign Language. Rogelio’s smartphone is also configured with assistive technology (Purple Communications) that provides on-site translation. With a supportive network, Rogelio has thrived, and he has been recognized for his contributions to the base upkeep.

 

Aside from his attentiveness and dedication to his work, Rogelio is always willing to help translate and teach LSM to interpreters at Fort Bliss. Recently, an instructor from the El Paso Community College asked Rogelio to help teach an LSM workshop in April 2017. The class was a success; he had a full group of students ranging from advanced interpreters to Interpreter Training Program students. Rogelio now plans on becoming a Deaf Certified Interpreter (CDI) to improve his ability as a language mediator between LSM and ASL.

 

In addition to his teaching aspirations, Rogelio plans to earn his GED and attend a technical training school to become a certified welder and aspires to own a business in automotive body welding.

 

Need employment placement support?

Contact our I AM ABLE Helpline to discuss your options.

“If you talk to a man in a language he understands, that goes to his head. If you talk to him in his language, that goes to his heart.” ~~ Nelson Mandela

In the U.S., more than 7 million Americans are affected by a visual impairment. As a result of developing Macular Degeneration, Michael Prieto became one of these individuals. The disease first caused vision loss in his right eye in 2003, following with the left in 2011.

 

Macular Degeneration is a condition that causes the center of the retina (the macula) to deteriorate. This area of the eye is needed for reading, driving, recognizing colors and other daily life activities. Macular Degeneration is the leading cause of vision loss, affecting more than 10 million Americans – more than cataracts and glaucoma combined. At present, there is no cure for this eye disease.

Helping Visually Impaired People Find Jobs

Because of his visual impairment, Michael became unemployed. He did the best he could to handle his vision loss while continuing to look for employment. Despite his efforts, he struggled to find a job.

 

During interviews, Michael would do his best to hide his disability for fear of not being hired. Unfortunately, this is a common dilemma for visually impaired people as they search for jobs. This changed for Michael when he found PRIDE Industries. 

 

In 2012, Michael was hired by PRIDE Industries as a general maintenance worker at PRIDE’s Fort Bliss contract in Texas where PRIDE provides base-wide facilities support to the Army installation. The team at Ft. Bliss looked beyond Michael’s visual impairment to his talents and skill set, and was more than willing to provide assistive technology to help Michael excel on the job. These included an oversized cell phone, a Ruby Handheld Magnifier and access to other assistive devices as needed.

“For the first time, I did not have to hide my disability,” said Michael.

In his role, Michael helps maintain HVAC (heating, ventilation and air conditioning) units throughout Fort Bliss. Michael and his team provide thermal comfort and acceptable indoor air quality for everyone on the base – more than 8,000 individuals total.

 

Thanks to PRIDE’s Assistive Tech program, Michael is able to overcome daily obstacles on the job and deliver high quality work in his role every day. He views his job as a second chance since his employer values his abilities and he thriving in his daily tasks, regardless of his visual impairment. 

PRIDE has a wide array of person-centered career services

Since 1966, PRIDE has provided support services and opportunities for those most often excluded from employment, including people with visual impairments and other disabilities.

Did You Know?

Macular Degeneration is the leading cause of vision loss, affecting more than 10 million Americans

Michael Prieto working at PRIDE's Fort Bliss contract

Alberto Hernandez has everything going for him, he is smart, motivated, a hard worker with an upbeat attitude and a remarkably talented artist. After moving to the U.S. when he was nine, Alberto completed high school and earned his bachelor’s degree in liberal arts from the University of Texas at El Paso. His college degree and incredible talent were not enough to overcome the career obstacles caused by his disability – Alberto was born deaf.

 

Most people do not know that being deaf makes writing difficult. English is a listening-based language that is constructed quite differently than visually based American Sign Language (ASL). People who cannot hear English – no matter how intelligent they are – have a hard time passing written tests without assistance. All graduate schools and professional certifications require applicants to pass complex written tests.

 

Unable to find a job that matched his skills and education, Alberto was referred to PRIDE Industries in El Paso, TX. PRIDE Ascend enables people with disabilities to gain technical skills and attain industry-based certifications to help meet the growing demand for skilled labor. 

 

True to his nature, Alberto excelled, this time earning a National Center for Construction Education and Research (NCCER) certificate in carpentry. After graduation, Alberto applied to a job at PRIDE’s Fort Bliss contract in Texas where PRIDE provides base-wide facilities support to the Army installation.

 

Alberto was hired as a maintenance trades helper in the carpentry shop at Fort Bliss. This new position allows Alberto to use his new certification while applying his creative talents in a job he truly enjoys. “Working at PRIDE has helped me mentally and physically,” says Alberto. “I am happy to have something positive to focus on.” Recently, Alberto earned a promotion to General Maintenance Worker.

 

Working at PRIDE has improved his confidence, self-esteem and has helped Alberto to be more self-sufficient. Most importantly, he is optimistic about the future. “I am excited about the experience I am gaining and the opportunity for advancement,” says Alberto. At PRIDE, he receives job skills development and accommodations, along with the support of his fellow PRIDE colleagues. “I look forward to the opportunity to showcase my skills and I feel motivated to come to work every day.”

 

Outside of work, Alberto is a talented artist with more than 25 years of experience.

 

Individuals like Alberto remind us that we all have the ability to take control of our destiny despite the challenges we may face. “Never limit yourself to the expectations of others, always chase your own dreams,” says Alberto.

“Working at PRIDE has helped me mentally and physically. I am happy to have something positive to focus on.”

It takes more than a diagnosis of Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) to keep someone like Sam Azevedo down. When Sam was referred to PRIDE Industries’ employment program for people with autism in Modesto, CA, it was clear that he was determined to get a job. He worked with his job coach and, instead of applying for one job every day as another motivated job seeker might do, Sam applied for five jobs a day and as many as 40 in a week.

Job Coaching Programs for People with Autism

Highly skilled, upbeat, and determined, Sam put every ounce of effort into getting a job. And the search yielded many interviews for Sam. However, like many people on the autism spectrum, he has a hard time with social cues and interactions. which made interviewing difficult. It took several months of diligent searching and interviewing—as well as training and coaching from PRIDE—before he landed a position as a courtesy clerk at Grocery Outlet.

During Sam’s journey to employment, PRIDE Industries’ employment program provided amazing help. 


The job has turned out to be worth the effort and wait. Grocery Outlet is a family-owned store that carries that sense of family to its employees and customers. After almost a year on the job, Sam still loves his work.

“It really means a lot to have a job because I am on a regular schedule and making money with consistent hours,” says Sam.

The store’s loyal following of regular customers all know Sam by name, and many make a point of saying “hello” when they come into the shop. Owners Roger and Heidi Custer also have high praise for Sam and his work ethic. “Sam is delightful and an important part of our family,” says Roger. “And he’s an asset to our staff.”

How we can help

Wherever you are in your career journey, PRIDE Industries’ employment program for people with autism can help you land that first job or move ahead in your industry.

Kindness and a positive attitude can go a long way to brighten up a work environment. Anthony Williams, a custodian at PRIDE Industries’ DLI (Defense Languages Institute) contract in Monterey, Ca., consistently applies this attitude every day to his job. So much so that he has received several comments from customers, including most recently:

 

“I would like to voice my appreciation for a job well done by your organization.

 

It is always a pleasure to write a letter about an exceptional employee. Please extend my sincere gratitude to Anthony Smith. He is very punctual, professional and polite. His work is always excellent and my working space always looks great. I just wanted to make sure you know how much he is valued and appreciated. He is very courteous and is an asset to your organization. Mr. Smith keeps a very positive attitude. He is always very determined to do a stellar job when he comes to our office, and his attitude brightens up our office.

 

Thank you, Lindsey N.”

Like many other individuals with a disability, Anthony needed an opportunity to showcase his abilities. Anthony has dyslexia, a learning disability that affects reading, writing, spelling and even speaking. Millions of Americans have dyslexia, but it is still often misunderstood. For those who have it, words often look foreign, creating challenges for routine tasks.  “It has always taken me a lot longer to read and write,” says Anthony. “Filling out job applications and going through interview process always proved to be intimidating tasks.”

 

Before coming to PRIDE, Anthony worked in the hospitality industry. After being laid off, his wife recommended that apply for a position at PRIDE. In 2010 he was hired. Six years at PRIDE has built Anthony’s confidence, and he has thrived. “PRIDE’s mission has truly helped me feel comfortable in my job,” says Anthony. “My coworkers all support each other. My supervisor Rita has been wonderful to work with, she has been exceptionally supportive and understanding.”

 

The Defense Language Institute (DLI) is a United States Department of Defense (DoD) educational and research institution consisting of two separate entities which provide linguistic and cultural instruction to the Department of Defense and international guests. In his position, Anthony supports both our military and diplomatic allies. “The military does so much for us, and I am proud to contribute to their well-being,” says Anthony. “I love working with people from all around the world, all walks of life.”

 

“I take a lot of pride in my job, and it has helped me grow as a person,” says Anthony.

His passion is his family – he aims to purchase a home and send his children to college. “I love coming in every day and look forward to my future with this company.”

 

Thank you Anthony for all of your hard work and dedication!

“I take a lot of pride in my job, and it has helped me grow as a person. I love coming in every day and look forward to my future with this company.”