Pride Industries gives people with disabilities a shot at independence

ROSEVILLE, Calif. - What started in the basement of a church has grown into Pride Industries, one of the nation's largest employers of people with disabilities.

As many of the employees will tell you, it's more than just a paycheck.

"I just wanted to become independent," Ilani Evans said.

Evans, 20, started working at Pride last January. She puts together medical devices in the electronics division.

"This is my first job outside of high school," Evans added.

"This is a 24/7 operation," Pride's VP of Business Development and Service Operations Steve Twitchell explained.

Pride's headquarters are in Roseville. It now operates in 13 states and Washington, D.C. and employs nearly 5,000 people, half of who are people with disabilities.

It's pretty impressive considering Pride's early beginnings. The non-profit started in the basement of an Auburn church in 1966 by parents of children with disabilities who wanted more for their kids. Over the years, Pride evolved.

"We changed it from an advocacy to a business oriented environment," Twitchell said.

Pride is still a non-profit organization, but it's far from traditional.

"We had to come up with lines of businesses and products and services that we could sell to consumers so we could generate revenue to meet goals of integrating people with disabilities into our processes," Twitchell said.

They partner with companies that believe in Pride's mission. Last year, Pride made $250 million.

Just as important as the actual work, there's the social part of having a job.

"Everybody loves me here," Pride employee Margaret Sullivan said.

And as employees said that goes a long way towards being independent. Evans was able move out of her parent's house because of her job at Pride.

"I actually found my roommate too working here together," Evans explained.


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