Breaking barriers

By Tatiana Peralta 04/21/2021
Breaking barriers

Determination is the key to success. Working hard to achieve a goal is a feeling many people in the workplace are familiar with. For Martha Garcia, the goal was simple: work hard to provide for herself and her children.

In 1999, Garcia was involved in a motor vehicle accident. In an instant, her life changed. A back injury resulted in the need for a wheelchair and a back brace. Garcia faced many challenges while adjusting to this lifestyle, including finding meaningful employment. It took her two years to find any opportunity to work; but she was determined to find something better.

Nearly a decade later, Garcia came across ReadyOne Industries, one of approximately 700 nonprofit agencies in the SourceAmerica® network. She started work as a sewing manager but was finding it difficult to perform the assignment. The organization referred her to the AbilityOne® Program, one of the largest sources of employment for people who are blind or have significant disabilities. For nearly eight years, Garcia worked through the AbilityOne Program at ReadyOne as a sewing operator, determined to move back up through the ranks. The program provided Garcia with the proper accommodations and trainings and equipped her with the tools she needed to be successful.

“As a a sewing operator, I knew I had the knowledge to do more.” said Garcia. “Every day I pushed harder and made sure I learned and kept pushing. My kids are my number one priority and I wanted to achieve more for them.”

Garcia’s hard work paid off. In 2015, she was promoted to an instructor level and graduated out of the AbilityOne Program.

“When I graduated from the program, I felt fulfilled. I started working with other departments like engineering and quality to learn even more.”

Garcia continued to push boundaries and break glass ceilings. In 2017, she was promoted again to a supervisor on the production floor.

“I have continued to gain skills to reach new goals,” said Garcia. “I will always take another step to better myself.”

Garcia’s story is a shining example of the impact the AbilityOne Program can have on individuals with disabilities. It provided her with extra trainings and accommodations in the workplace. Throughout every challenge, Garcia has remained positive and determined to move forward.

“I feel like I need to assist other employees under the AbilityOne Program in overcoming their disabilities the way I did,” said Garcia. “ReadyOne opened the door to great opportunities for me. I am thankful for the support I receive from every department in the organization, but most of all, the employees. I have had very good mentors, and because of them I am where I am now.”

The sky is truly the limit for Garcia, who is known for her tenacity and kindness. In 2019, ReadyOne CEO Luis Alvarez promoted Garcia once more. As production manager Garcia spends her time overseeing and mentoring other staff members with disabilities. Garcia knows that with the right support, these individuals can do anything they set their minds to.

“Stories like Martha’s are reminders that the AbilityOne Program gives people an opportunity to become competitively employed by providing upward mobility in the workplace,” said Alvarez. “The program equips these talented individuals with the right tools and skills to overcome barriers and succeed.”

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