Urijah Faber and Phillip Gonzales put their arms around each other’s shoulders and smiled, posing for a picture. It was a picture of grit and determination.
“It does make me proud keeping and holding down the employment,” Gonzales said. “I am always working to build my skills.”
That’s a kind of work Urijah Faber knows a lot about.
“If I can give some sort of inspiration, I’d love to do that,” Faber said.
You probably know Urijah Faber best by his fighting nickname, the California Kid. But when he started out in Mixed Martial Arts, you probably didn’t know him at all. There was no weight class for him. His sport wasn’t even sanctioned by the State of California.
Now, Faber is one of the most celebrated fighters of his generation. And he dropped-in at the State of California Department of Consumer Affairs (DCA) with a message about making it despite obstacles.
“I think I can give a perspective. I come from a very unique background where there wasn’t necessarily a path laid out for me,” Faber said.
Southside Unlimited was one of the businesses represented at the event. Southside is an innovative non-profit corporation that’s tapping the potential of an often-misunderstood talent pool.
“What I do is I do recycling and I sort paper into different categories,” said Gonzales, who works for Southside’s recycling program.
By employing people with developmental disabilities, Southside provides good value to its customers and good experience for its workforce. They also can get right to the front of the line for state contracts.
“DCA is going to embrace folks from all different walks of life and experiences. I think that’s going to strengthen the organization and help advance its mission,” said Dean R. Grafilo, Director of DCA.
Grafilo hosted this event to help the disabled workforce learn how to apply for State of California jobs, and to help hiring managers see the advantages of considering that under-utilized talent pool.
“I think that, especially among people doing the hiring, they hear ‘disability.’ If they don’t understand what people with that disability can do, it’s hard to see past that,” said Jessica Sieferman, Executive Officer of the California Veterinary Medical Board.
Urijah Faber is an expert in being overlooked. Once considered too scrawny in a fringe sport, Faber persevered, and created his own place.
His story is one the resonates with Gonzales.
“Oh yeah. It’s hard to find jobs out there. You’ve just got to keep on trying…. got to keep on trying,” Gonzales said.