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Disability Visibility: Programs with Purpose

According to the CDC, 26% of adults have some type of disability in the U.S. Disability comes in many forms: conditions present at birth, disorder of chromosomes (like Down syndrome), developmental conditions (like autism spectrum disorder), injury-related, and progressive (like muscular dystrophy), among others. Although “people with disabilities” sometimes refers to a single population, the term actually covers a diverse group of people with a wide range of needs. Luckily, our region is home to a variety of nonprofits that advocate for equal employment, social inclusion, and an overall good quality of life for these individuals.

Mother Lode Rehabilitation Enterprises (MORE)
399 Placerville Drive, Placerville, 530-622-4848,
What: In 1969 a group of parents with adult children who had developmental disabilities joined a group of educators, rehabilitation professionals, and concerned citizens to form MORE with a mission to empower individuals with disabilities and enhance their quality of life.
How: MORE serves over 200 clients/families with activities and training in employment support, self-advocacy, community access skills, independent living skills, media, and creative arts (including the one-of-a-kind Something MORE Artist’s Gallery).
Save the Date: The Chili Cook-Off and Classic Car Show—a fundraiser featuring 30 chili cooks, 100 classic cars, live music, prize drawings, artwork by the Something MORE artists, drinks, hot dogs, and face painting—is September 11.

Mother Lode Rehabilitation Enterprises


A Touch of Understanding (ATOU)
5280 Stirling Street, Suite 102, Granite Bay, 916-791-4146,
What: ATOU was founded in 1992 by father-daughter team Edward Ennis and Leslie DeDora with the desire to relieve the discrimination and social isolation experienced by children with disabilities.
How: They’ve taken the program’s message to more than 120,000 students in public and private schools, public agencies, and fraternal organizations throughout the region—through in-school disability-awareness workshops and pledges of "We are BUDDIES—not bullies. We pledge to join the ATOU Team against bullying."
Save the Date: Their Volunteer Recruitment event—where they’ll educate people about their organization, seek volunteers to help deliver the program on weekdays, and help with annual fundraising—is on September 30. Appetizers and beverages will be served. To RSVP, email [email protected].

A Touch of Understanding


PRIDE Industries
10030 Foothills Boulevard, Roseville, 916-788-2100,
What: Founded in 1966 in Auburn, PRIDE Industries is the country’s leading employer of people with disabilities. A nonprofit social enterprise, they help individuals lead more individual lives and provide everything from facilities operations and maintenance services to supply chain management, packaging and fulfillment services, and staffing and recruitment services to private and public organizations nationwide.
How: Their new, no-cost I-AM-ABLE (844-426-2253) job helpline connects people with disabilities who face barriers to employment with services, support, and opportunities they need. They’ve also launched ONWARD Inclusion Advantage—the newest addition to their “Inclusive Talent Solutions” line of business—an online training program for individuals and companies to learn best practices for creating and growing an inclusive workplace.
Save the Date: In celebration of National Disability Employment Awareness Month in October, PRIDE will have a virtual celebration at their headquarters on October 28.

PRIDE Industries


Down Syndrome Information Alliance
5098 Foothills Boulevard, Suite 3, Roseville, 916-658-1686,
What: Down Syndrome Information Alliance was founded in 2005 by a group of families who shared a connection by having a family member with Down syndrome (DS). Their goal was to raise awareness and educate families and the community of the potential and contributions people with Down syndrome make to society.  
How: They provide Down Syndrome Comfort packages to new families who get a diagnosis of DS or when families are looking for more information. They also provide parent-to-parent support, community events like “Step Up for Down Syndrome,” “I Can Shine” bike program, and self-advocate gatherings. In addition, they offer teacher trainings on best practices in the classrooms and seminars for the medical profession on giving a diagnosis to new families.
Save the Date: The Step Up for Down Syndrome fundraiser walk is being planned for October at William Land Park in Sacramento.

Down Syndrome Information Alliance


Pathways to Employment
8757 Auburn Folsom Road, Suite 3062, Granite Bay, 916-784-9809,
What: Pathways to Employment was founded in 2017 by Kim Christensen after she toured several adult day programs with years-long waitlists for her daughter Brynne who has severe autism. Unable to find a program that would meet her daughter’s needs, Kim set out to provide Brynne and others like her with a sense of purpose and focus on employment skills training and community interaction for adults (and teens) with developmental disabilities.
How: They’ve run concession and pop-up stands at various locations throughout the community that were staffed by adults and teens with intellectual disabilities. The pandemic shut down all pop-up stands so they’re now focusing on soft-skills training through social skills groups and also provide online sales.

Pathways to Employment



660 Main Street, Placerville, 530-344-1244;
6950 21st Avenue, Sacramento, 916-381-1300,
They provide services that contribute to the independence of adults with developmental disabilities and acquired brain injury through services like job placements, employment training, and other support for employment and community living.

2795 East Bidwell Street, Suite 100, Folsom, 916-220-1284,
They provide inclusive sports for at-risk youth and children with developmental differences through summer youth and tackle football camp and summer reading programs with lessons on character and leadership.

The Arc Placer County
522 Vernon Street, Roseville, 916-781-3016,
They operate multiple adult day programs and a social recreation program for adults and youth aged 16+ so they can lead quality lives and participate in society.

Aim Higher
1132 Smith Lane, Roseville, 916-783-4688,
They offer adult disability services like vocational and life skills training, functional education, art programs, and more.

Rancho Cordova, 510-386-6842,
They help people with different abilities and their families through recreational workshops, vocational skills classes, access to resource networks, and support groups.

On My own Community Services
6939 Sunrise Boulevard, Suite 227, Citrus Heights, 916-726-0792,
They provide vocational services and job coaching and placements for people with disabilities.

by Tara Mendanha
Photos courtesy of their respective companies or organizations.