AbilityFirst and FVO Solutions Join Forces To Advocate For People With Developmental Disabilities

PHOTO: courtesy of AbilityFirst | SouthPasadenan.come news | Polo Robles, assistant production manager at the AbilityFirst Manufacturing Program, with program participant, Javier R. (last name has been withheld for privacy)

Two longstanding, Pasadena-based nonprofit organizations that serve individuals with developmental disabilities in Southern California recently announced a historic and innovative merger.

By joining forces, AbilityFirst and FVO Solutions, will be better positioned to advocate for people with developmental disabilities in the greater Los Angeles area and support efforts toward diversity, equity, and inclusion.

The AbilityFirst and FVO Solutions merger will provide innovative, person-centered employment opportunities to individuals with developmental disabilities. AbilityFirst has already launched three new programs: ExploreAbility, PossAbility and DiscoverAbility. Now, with FVO Solutions under AbilityFirst, the organization provides its participants with wider access to FVO Solutions’ enterprising manufacturing program, now called the AbilityFirst Manufacturing Program.

The merger comes at a time when the unemployment rate is at a historic high as a result of the global pandemic. Nearly 80% of individuals with developmental disabilities are unemployed adding to the growing number of unemployed people in Los Angeles. The merger will help address this issue directly.

Javier is one of AbilityFirst’s program participants. He works the 3-hole punch assembly line in Pasadena, struggles to maintain focus and read social cues. In his 10 years working with the manufacturing program, which provides employment and job training to individuals with disabilities, he has learned virtually every aspect of the process, from powder coating the parts, to using the drill press, and completing the 12-step assembly to make a high-quality paper punch that goes out for purchase. He has mastered a complex set of skills and takes pride in creating a quality product. When he is on the assembly line, Javier has focus and gets to see his friends. He says it is his “home away from home.”

Most importantly, Javier is learning the value of teamwork and communication. At AbilityFirst, Javier sees that he is an essential part of the assembly team. He has learned to communicate with his supervisor and peers about small problems before they become big. Not every day is perfect, but because of his work with AbilityFirst Javier has the emotional tools and workplace skills to help him overcome his difficulties.

For more information on these programs or to donate visit https://www.abilityfirst.org/get-involved/donate/