Celebrating NDEAM: F.D.’s Story

Success Stories

(F.D. pictured in middle)

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.

“Once F.D. joined PRIDE, he immediately started to thrive,” said Haydee. “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.”