When PDI was founded in 1963, it is with the same heart that is still present today – to create pathways of opportunity for people with disabilities, and their families. It has become readily apparent that each person, served by PDI, has an incredible wealth of strengths. Their own hopes and dreams inspire all of us as we work towards a strong and bright future.
Walk with us through the early years.
Roots within the community
What is now known as PDI was formed in 1963, when two families encouraged the Pueblo community to support a program for their children. Volunteers came forward and held meetings three times a week in the St. Paul Methodist church, offering crafts, sewing and cooking classes, and taught basic adult living and social skills.
Within a year, the group had expanded to 30, and boys and girls were separated into two different tracks. The boys went to the Strack School, which was later incorporated into Colorado Bluesky Enterprises.
By 1965, the first property was purchased as the home for Curative Workshop, before finally, in 1967, the organization was formally named Pueblo Diversified Industries. In 1968, Jerry Daugherty became the President of PDI until his retirement in 1994 when Karen Lillie took the helm. In 2018 David Pump, the current CEO, stepped into the role.
In 1971, the Javits-Wagner-O’Day Act (JWOD) passed, requiring all federal agencies purchase specified supplies and services from nonprofit agencies who employed persons who were blind or have other significant disabilities. This allowed PDI, for the first time, to competitively bid for federal contracts.
PDI’s then President, Jerry Daugherty, was elected to the National Industries for the Severely Handicapped in 1974, before then being named to its Executive Committee in 1975. PDI received its first JWOD certification in the same year and received its first contract for key tags two years later.
In 1974, PDI received its first accreditation from the Commission on Accreditation of Rehabilitation Facilities (CARF). This, along with the American Rehabilitation Act of 1973, opened the doors for those with disability to enjoy employment while being contributing citizens to the community.
Like the general population, those who work for PDI are diverse in their abilities and are actively employed with major employers. Over the years PDI has partnered with many employers, notables include:
- Walter Drake Company
- The Current Company
- Lockheed Martin
- Colorado State Mental Health Hospital
- Quantum Electronics
- DaySpring Greeting Cards
- Department of Defense
- Fort Carson
- Pueblo Chemical Depot
- Colorado Fuel & Iron Company (now Evraz)
- Columbia House
- Western Forge
- Veterans Nursing Home
In 1990, PDI added stimulating programs to include Day Program, Vocational, and Residential Services.
In 2019, David Pump, strategically transitioned PDI to accreditation with the Council on Quality and Leadership (CQL). This platinum standard accreditation more accurately aligns with the passion and mission of PDI with a strong focus on person-centered planning and community integration while remaining engaged in qualified outcomes. PDI became the first agency in Colorado to attain the entry-level CQL “Basic Assurance Accreditation”, and then in 2022 PDI was awarded the prestigious “Person-Centered Excellence Accreditation” and began to provide Benefits Counseling services.
In January of 2020, after being unable to find a home appropriately suited for ADA requirements, PDI began construction on the first-ever, PDI-built host home. The home, built in Pueblo West, opened for its first residents in November 2020.
Then COVID hit. Overnight, PDI took a blended approach of online and in-person programs, with over 170 people enrolling in virtual programming. This new approach allowed people to retain community connections in a completely new manner and this option remains today!
PDI continues to be the only CQL accredited program in the State and will always be committed to those we have the honor of serving.
Do you want to know more about PDI? Contact us 719-564-0000.