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Pleasantview honors its employees

Annual banquet recognizes services that offer work opportunities for SCV adults with disabilities

Posted: December 30, 2009 8:56 p.m.
Updated: December 31, 2009 4:55 a.m.

Members of the Board of Directors for Pleasantview Industries are, back row from left to right, Captain Ed Colley; Del Guyer, Executive Director and Bill Alanso. Front row from left to right, Gerry Howard, Frances DePalafox, Beth Combs, Jennifer Zimmerman and Randy Hurst.

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The Board of Directors of Pleasantview Industries honored work program participants at its 10th annual Awards Banquet held recently at the Santa Clarita Activities Center.

The event for members and their families was hosted and organized by the local Junior ROTC under the direction of Capt. Ed Colley and Catering by Charlie provided the food.

Councilman Bob Kellar was on hand to present the awards and have photos taken with each honoree.

"These are wonderful, sweet hardworking folks who do the best they can and don't ask for much in return," Kellar said.

Pleasantview Industries was established in 1969 by a group of parents and volunteers to provide work services, support services and community job placement for persons with developmental disabilities.

Employees range from people with retardation, autism, cerebral palsy and various development disabilities. The employees do everything from simple assembly work to retail.

"We know how special our clients are," said board president Dell Guyer. "We see their hard work and dedication to excellence frequently. Our clients deserve much more praise than they receive."

"Every one of them are eligible for Social Security, but choose to work instead, thus sacrificing a huge portion of their benefits," said board member Bruce Benham, "They continue to amaze us, but the one true thing is that they all want to work."

Based at Rosedell Elementary School in Saugus, Pleasantview Industries is tied to the Hart School District as part of the Adult Education program in Life Skills and Work Activity for people with developmental disabilities.

The State of California Dept. of Developmental Services and the Dept. of Rehabilitation provide funding for the nonprofit.

Supported Employment
Pleasantview offers training and employment for individuals wishing to obtain competitive employment in the community.

"Our clients are amazing people who want to participate and contribute to their community every day they go to work," said Jennifer Zimmerman, supported employment coordinator, as she presented the awards to all of their clients.

Previously, Zimmerman worked in Hawaii with a supported employment company. She moved to the Santa Clarita Valley to be closer to family and found a career at Pleasantview.

Currently, Zimmerman supervises more then 40 clients who work in various local companies throughout the Valley. She said job coaches at each company help each employee learn and adapt to their job until they no longer need help.

"They get placed according to where they want to work, what they want to do," she said. "For instance, Sam Rosenblit wants to become a chef, so right now he works at the Corner Bakery, so we are able to give him some first-hand experience."

Mike Johnson works at McDonalds on Decoro and has inspired comments about how clean he keeps the playground area.

"No one even knows he is with the program," Zimmerman said. "They are responsible and dependable employees who are a joy to work with. These are hard working adults who are polite, caring, considerate, compassionate and hard working. They are just amazing people who really have a lot to offer the community."

Honorees
Some of the top people from the Supported Employment Program that received awards were Lindsay Savigar, who works at Neo-Tech in Castaic; Denise Loew, Christina Sears and Bruce Bingham work at Pacific Lock and Jason Carreon is employed at the Dollar Tree on Soledad.

"Beverly Cates was honored for her 15 years at McDonalds," Zimmerman said.

Other recipients were the very popular Colbert Williams, who worked at Pizza Hut for 13 years and transferred to Vons on Bouquet and Jereth Suede, who works at the Vons on Lyons Ave.

Suede, who will turn 21 in a couple of months, is a student at College of the Canyons. When he is not working or in school, he helps out with the baseball, football and basketball teams at Valencia High School.

"I am going to get a job with a sports industry someday," Suede said.

Other award recipients were Alyson Turner, who works at McDonalds, Vincent Montana, who maintains a full time position at Smart & Final; Dyon Brashears, Kevin Spillane and Jordan Espinosa who keep the shelves clean and stocked at Target, Ana Goldboch who works at Kohls; Eddy LeGault who works at the Valencia Sports Group and Kevin Cast, who has worked at Red Lobster for 20 years.

Other companies who hire Pleasantview clients are Wal-Mart on Copperhill, Pavilions, Albertsons, Wal-Greens, Rite-Aid, SCV Food Service, Ralph's, Mountasia and Lowe's.

Employment Support
For some, Pleasantview's work-activity program is the beginning of their exposure to the world of work. Program participants must be 16 years of age or older, have a developmental disability, lack adequate work skills and be able to care for their basic personal needs unassisted.

Beth Combs is the case manager in the rehab program. She works with each client toward identifying work goals, gaining work skills and moving toward a work active program.

She said they also teach independent living skills training that includes topics such as money management, social skills and use of public transportation.

Randy Hurst is the production manager who is responsible for arranging for the contract work to Pleasantview. Some of their clients are Valencia Sports Group, H.R. Textron and Hyline.

"I bring in the work, where the employees work in parts assembly, packaging, assembly and production," Hurst said. "Even though this has been a really tough year, our clients are staying with us and business has been picking up in the past month."

Hurst said that even though the work has slowed, his people still come in every day. He said they also teach them computer, cooking and general life skills.

"Sometimes we have a taco night, or spaghetti and they help us put the food together," he said.

Timmy & Mark Avila
One of the original employees, Tim Lacara, 51, has worked at Pleasantview for 40 hours a week for 30 years and never misses a day. Tim and his brother, Mark, 49, were born with mental disabilities that give them the mental capacity of a seventh grader.

"Tim always gets up and is ready at 6 a.m. and always has a smile on his face," said family friend Flo Aviles, who attended the banquet with her husband, Ray Aviles.

Flo said they have known the Lacaras for 19 years and her husband became something of a mentor to Timmy and Mark Lacara after their own father died five years ago.

"They really light up when they see Ray," Flo said. "He stepped in for their daddy."

ROTC
The cadets of the CA-782nd AFJROTC organized the banquet, a Junior Reserve Officers' Training Corps at Valencia High School, led by Capt. Edward Colley (USAF Retired) and MSgt Frederick Malcomb (USAF Retired).

"Where else can you have 46 high school students at an event with only one adult supervising," he said.

Samantha Spence, 17, Cadet Master Sergeant was put in charge of the cadets during the banquet from beginning to end.

By all measures, it was quite a feat and something not many adults have accomplished, but Colley said Spence performed way above and beyond the call of duty.

"She accomplished a real world function by putting on a banquet for 160 people and supervising 45 cadets," Colley remarked.

"ROTC is a leadership laboratory. Above all else, it provides real world and valuable work service."

Spence, who aspires to attend West Point, took it all in stride.

"It was an organized banquet," Spence said. "I am relieved, there were no major problems. It was really smooth."

Colley said his Junior ROTC unit also volunteers at many events, including the Malibu Marathon, Taste of the Town, the Kids Expo and Child and Family Center fund-raisers.

A Good Day
"I think I am the lucky one. They keep me grounded," Zimmerman said of her clients, many of whom have become friends. "For instance, Lindsay Savigar, who works at Neo-Tech in Castaic, calls me whenever she has a good day. Needless to say, I love working with my clients and their parents. I am honored everyday that I get to be part of their lives, helping them to have a wonderful, rewarding, fun filled life. What more could anyone ask for?"

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