Ready Pac Q&A: Diego Rangel Discusses DiscoverAbility and AbilityFirst Programs
- by Jordan Okumura
IRWINDALE, CA – As we move toward the end of 2017 and look to the New Year, Ready Pac Foods is reflecting on a year of company-wide growth with much to be thankful for. With a constant focus also on growing the individuals who contribute to the value and culture at the company, Ready Pac Foods joined the numerous companies who supported and praised National Disability Employment Awareness Month in October.
Joining us to talk about his experience as part of AbilityFirst’s DiscoverAbility program, as well as his time with Ready Pac Foods, is Team Member Diego Rangel, who shares his overall experience through the programs and internship with the program, company, and beyond.
Q1: As you have shared, AbilityFirst is a non-profit organization with a center in Pasadena, CA, that helps participants with disabilities to reach their full potential and has helped you transcend into your life today with Ready Pac Foods. What’s your best piece of advice for friends going through the organization’s DiscoverAbility program?
Diego Rangel: Whatever you do, make sure you show up on time! This is my best piece of advice for friends going through the DiscoverAbility program, which helped me secure a job at Ready Pac Foods, a fresh food production company in Irwindale, California.
Q2: When did you join the DiscoverAbility program and how long were you in the program?
DR: I started in 2016 with the DiscoverAbility program, after working at the AbilityFirst Pasadena Work Center for two years. Now, I’m just a regular AbilityFirst participant.
Q3: How did an AbilityFirst case manager coordinate an internship for you at Ready Pac Foods?
DR: Jessica Chan was the initial case manager, and she turned it over to Amanda. After meeting me, Amanda helped coordinate an internship for me, which began in April 2017 at Ready Pac Foods.
Q4: How did you feel about starting an internship at Ready Pac Foods? What helped you through this experience?
DR: I was nervous and scared to start a new job. I had to call my job coach twice the first day because I was lost (in the facility). It was like a maze, but you have to learn so you don’t get lost.
Talking to Yadira, my employment specialist coach from AbilityFirst, and the friends I made at work helped. No one really spoke to me at first. They thought I didn’t speak Spanish. When I was in the line, they sent us all to break. Then I started speaking to one of my co-workers in Spanish and now they all speak to me. I have a family now here (at Ready Pac Foods). But Yadira is my mother, my aunt, my teacher.
Q5: What role were you offered at the end of the internship?
DR: I was offered Team Member in Housekeeping, same job as I’m doing now. I started on June 14, 2017. I am in charge of the packing area of Bistro Bowls and maintaining the area.
Q6: What aspect of your job do you enjoy most?
DR: I love my job! It’s not just the hours or responsibilities that I appreciate, though. My job has helped me build up more confidence and given me new opportunities to make friends. I enjoy the friendships, and my coworkers too. I like all of it. With my first paycheck, I bought an Apple Watch. It felt good to buy it for myself. Each payday, I bring my paycheck home and go with my mother to the bank to deposit it. And just like everyone else, I am learning that the money goes quickly!
Q7: How has the program enriched and changed your experience in the work force, and with Ready Pac Foods?
DR: It’s changed a lot. I started moving a lot, so I’ve lost weight and I never stop working. Also, before, I never really spoke to anyone. Now I have more confidence, I’m less nervous. It’s helped me a lot.
AbilityFirst stands for, and alongside, people with developmental disabilities and their families. Looking beyond disabilities, AbilityFirst focuses on capabilities and expand possibilities. Please visit the AbilityFirst website to support their ongoing work at https://www.abilityfirst.org/.
Thank you, Diego, for sharing your incredible experience with us. With an exciting road ahead for Diego and the team at Ready Pac Foods, stay tuned for more stories from the people behind the brand and the products that help them thrive.