Innovators of the EIC is a brand-new interview series that will feature innovators who work in the Energy Innovation Center. These short interviews will ask our innovators to share what they do, how they innovate and what they’re excited about. For our first installment, we interviewed Neal Marable, the CEO and President of Prayer and Deliverance Community Opportunities (PADCO). PADCO is a proven intellectual disability organization that contracts as a provider to do home and community rehabilitation.
What is the focus of your organization?
The focus is in two parts of the organization. When we moved to the Energy Innovation Center (EIC) a year ago our focus at that site was primarily the City of Pittsburgh’s EARN Program, where our goal is to help our EARN clients find gainful employment. The program also monitors their success over a period of a year through PADCO and the City of Pittsburgh case managers to maintain retention. The other part of PADCO has moved to the EIC and that focuses on working with the Office of Intellectual Disabilities. Through the Office of Intellectual Disabilities, we offer companion services, rehabilitation services, job coaching and respite services to clients.
What is your role within your organization?
I’m the President and CEO. I run the operations of the organization. But I’m also a hands-on person, I also see clients, and I’m really involved because of my own experiences with raising a special needs child.
What do you enjoy about being at the Energy Innovation Center?
I love our new space in the building. I like the fact that the Energy Innovation Center is a green building. I really respect the people who run the building. Many of the tenants at the EIC are geared toward helping people, and I’m quite proud to be a part of that environment.
How have you had to innovate to accomplish your goals?
Our biggest innovation during the pandemic was finding ways to still offer our services. I think the key to that was perseverance. We’ve had to go the extra mile for people. We pushed the envelope when working with clients, because we realized we may be the only lifeline they have. Even in a pandemic, you have to find a way to meet their needs.
What are you most excited about that you are doing right now, either professionally or personally?
I’m excited about being able to help those people who we haven’t met yet. I’m excited about the new space that we have [in the Energy Innovation Center]. It’s a place we can grow. I’m excited about change. My church burned down six months back, and we’re in the process of rebuilding it. I’m excited about the possibilities that we can grow in that new space as well.
One thing that helps me along the way, whenever I’ve seen tragic things happen to me, if I pray and just focus on the task at hand, when the smoke has cleared, I find myself in a better place. You realize that you made it through and you are in a better position than you thought. Sometimes you’re in a better place because the trial or tribulation forced you to grow and helped you become a better person, if you allowed it.
What’s an accomplishment you’re extremely proud of?
I’m the founder of this organization, and I’m very proud of it because I’ve seen so many success stories. We’ve had clients on both sides, with EARN and the Office of Intellectual Disabilities, who weren’t able to get the help they needed before they came to PADCO, but perseverance has helped them find success with us, by helping them find a job and then moving forward. It’s very rewarding.
Who has been the most influential person in your life? Why?
I’ve had several. Growing up, the person that really influenced me was my mother. I watched her as a young woman with children go back to school and become a social worker. I remember her and my siblings sitting around the table doing homework together. I saw her invest in her education and invest in her children. My parents raised four independent people, but we all come together as a family. And I had other family members and mentors who also have influenced me. I took what I could from them. There are so many people that have pushed me to become the person that I’m striving to be.
What is something you learned from those influential people?
I’ve learned not to become bitter. I’ve learned to encourage the next generation. There are people who aren’t going to respect you no matter your education or your economic status. You learn quickly to forgive them. Because if you don’t, you become as bitter as they are. You will realize their ignorance isn’t worth a second thought. Forgiveness is the key.
What is something you do when you’re not working?
I love cars. I have a convertible, and I pull it out, especially in the evening during the summer. My wife and I take some time and collect ourselves. We’ve worked from home and the office during the pandemic, so it’s good to get out in the car, put the top down and reconnect. I want to stay grounded and not become a workaholic. The best thing my wife and I have done is jump in that car and start riding around and seeing other neighborhoods and cruising through some of our local parks and getting on the parkway and feeling that warm breeze and talking and laughing.