When Dreams Become Reality

At Options For All, we believe that everyone deserves a career they love. To begin the day with a sense of purpose and to end it with a feeling of fulfillment. Through our donors’ contributions and the tireless work of Options For All staff, finding a dream job as a person with a developmental disability is a reality. A graduate of our Film & Media Program, Ludivico Estrada, is a perfect example. 

Ludivico Estrada, or “Ludi” as he’s known at the office, is a creative powerhouse. With an interest in graphic design and film production, the Options For All Film & Media Studio in San Diego was a perfect match. He quickly learned from his instructors and showed an early aptitude for working with cameras, film editing, creating sets, and designing film posters. He even worked with staff during our rebranding to make the Options For All logo. 

Ludi’s passion for his work is evident to anyone who meets him. Upon graduation, he was hired by Options For All in an official capacity as a Production Assistant. In this role, he supports us in creating videos and films that share the Options For All story. He most enjoys creative work and is always ready to jump in and help out, no matter the project. According to OFA Production Manager Dan Roper, “Ludi is dedicated to his work and has a keen ability for focus. We’re thrilled to have him as part of the team!” Ludivico also works as an independent contractor and produces educational and music videos for YouTube.  

Ludi’s advice for others looking to land their dream job is to “follow your dreams and work your way through until you get the hang of it”. And for those who aren’t sure where to start, he says, ” If you want to follow your dreams and find a career you’ll love, come visit Options For All and see if it’s the right fit for you.” 

“Never give up!” These are the words of one of our graduated participants, Eric Baker, who recently earned his dream job. Many of our participants have impressive employment histories from restaurants to film production studios and everything in between. Of course, these opportunities don’t appear overnight. They are the result of hard work, determination, and a little help along the way. That’s where Options For All comes in!    

Recently, we launched a paid internship program, which allows participants to gain work experience with impressive companies, with the goal of transitioning to permanent employment. Funded through the Department of Developmental Services, and local Regional Center partnerships, these internships give companies the flexibility to create positions filled by Options For All participants. Two of our participants, Eric Baker and Martin Barken, are wonderful examples of this program’s awesome outcomes.   

After a successful paid internship with Cox Communications, Eric was recently offered a full-time position as a video editor for the company. In this role, he edits raw footage, which is then broadcasted or featured online. He first realized his creative passion for video editing after participating in our film and media program. With the help of an OFA job coach, Eric was able to earn a paid intern position at Cox. He loves all the projects he is a part of and enjoys putting his creative skills to the test every day.    

After his paid internship at a pharmacy, Martin Barken is now a pharmacy technician and clerk at Alvarado Pharmacy. To become a professional in this field, Martin completed the necessary certifications and licenses to work behind the pharmacy counter. His internship allowed him to realize his passion for this field of work.  His favorite part about his job is talking with customers as they pick up their prescriptions.   

Options For All exists to create opportunities that will help further the dreams of those with developmental and intellectual disabilities. It’s not just about finding a job. It’s about assisting participants in finding what they love and helping them reach their goals. No matter the position or the industry, there is room for everyone at the table. The paid internship program is just one way we’re creating more space to include everyone who wants a seat.   

Want to learn more about our job development and paid internship programs? Contact us at info@optionsforall.org.

In 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic forced every organization to rethink how they meet the needs of those they serve. For Options For All, this meant finding new, innovative ways to connect our participants to staff and resources. We quickly revolutionized our process to create alternative services that allowed for remote learning and engagement. The aim was to deliver a meaningful curriculum that reinforced wellness and gave program participants a sense of inclusion. We wanted to improve our participants’ quality of life and address the challenges of social isolation and emotional disconnection. Now, participants can interact with each other and their Direct Service Professionals in a safe, virtual environment. According to OFA Engagement Coach Denice Patron, “It’s truly been a whirlwind, but we have been able to support and deliver services consistently and safely since the start of the public health crisis.   

With the initial hurdle of moving to remote services met, the next objective was to provide the necessary technology to connect to participants who needed it. In August of 2020, Options For All held its inaugural Bow Ties & Sandals Gala, a virtual event that featured music, entertainment, and even a delicious, safely-delivered meal. Through the incredible support of gala attendees, we raised funds to purchase 300 iPads to be distributed to participants. “When we say ‘Options For All’, we mean it, said Hillarie Holcomb, OFA Marketing & Communications Manager. “Technology will no longer be a barrier for our participants”, continued Holcomb. Each individual’s needs have always been a top priority at Options for All. The purchase of these iPads helps ensure that both instructors and participants can continue building skills and achieving their goals.  

Even with the unexpected switch from in-person to remote services, participants have genuinely thrived in this new, virtual environment. In 2020, 70% of OFA participants received remote services, logging over 11 million minutes in distance learning sessions. Thanks to the generosity of our incredible supporters, donors, and staff, Options For All has safely connected to participants —one iPad at a time.    

Want to learn more about how OFA is connecting participants virtually? Check out this video and our 2020 Annual Report!