Johnny Barbata's Story

"The experience I had at DI was a great blessing from my Heavenly Father."

Featuring: Johnny Barbata; Bishop Gentry, Johnny’s bishop; Nephi Carter, DI store manager; Ron Keil, DI job coach; Russ Moody, owner of Innomark; Amada Salazar, manager at Innomark; Cesar Gonzales, manager at Innomark

Johnny – I’m Johnny. When I was introduced to the DI program, the bishop brought me over there and got me a referral. I didn’t have any idea of what a really good job would be for me.

Bishop Gentry – When I first met Johnny, he pretty much stayed in his home. He didn’t ever really want to come out.

Johnny – I was very unhappy. At 12 years old, my dad committed suicide. I lost a lot of memory, and a lot of things just kind of shut down for me. I would play video games or watch TV, and I was really, really overweight. I didn’t have any work experience at all—none whatsoever. There was obviously something missing, and I needed to take my own steps in life to be a responsible person.

Bishop Gentry – Hello, Johnny. How are we doing today?

Johnny – Good.

Bishop Gentry – One of the bishop’s stewardships is to seek out the poor and the needy. I like to call them in and talk to them. In several cases, their self-confidence isn’t very high as they are unemployed.

Johnny – My bishop had me come on in and talk with him about a job opportunity at the DI and do some training with them to find a really good job.

Nephi – Every associate that comes to Deseret Industries comes from a bishop’s referral. And the bishop sends each person here for a different reason. We serve those that need help and a hand up. They have talents and skills—and everybody does. We help them bring them out of them.

Ron – When Johnny first came to Deseret Industries, he brought a lot of things with him that I figured that this young man would take quite a bit of effort to help.

Team member – First of all, we know that you are just working on your goals. Do you want to update us on what’s going on?

Ron – We write down their goals. We have them think it through. And they, the associates, are the ones that are sitting in the driver’s seat, driving.

Johnny – The goals that we made were to have a driver’s license so I could have transportation back and forth to work, achieve a GED. And they paid for my driver’s ed. They put me through school at the college to achieve a GED.

Ron – He had a desire to succeed, and as a result, he became aware of who he really was, his talents, and his skills. When the time came when he was ready for a business partnership, I immediately thought about a production line—loading, unloading, receiving were all good areas for Johnny.

Russ – The business partnership was brought to us by Deseret Industries and introduced to me. I’d never heard of it before. They were bringing to us someone that may not be completely qualified in our industry. In exchange for our patience in working with that person, they were willing to cover those first couple of months of wages.

Our experience with Johnny was fascinating. In the beginning we thought, “Wow! What have we gotten ourselves into?” And then to see that progress to just a fantastic employee was a wonderful experience.

Johnny – Things went a little rocky for a while.

Amada – We had a hard, hard time with Johnny when he started work here.

Russ – Amada, our production manager, would come in and it was like, “This is not working. I need a change here.” To then bring that concept of partnership in and to say, “Amada, we made an agreement here. We’re in partnership with Deseret Industries. Our commitment is to be patient and to try to bridge that gap of where Johnny is and where he needs to be.”

Ron – After each workday, I would tell him things that he should continue to do and things not to do, with the hope that his immediate supervisor would see this wonderful young man and the work that he is able and can do.

Russ – The coaching that the employees at Deseret Industries were giving was key.

Cesar – Since I knew that there was a program, I saw the situation a little bit different. I saw his smile and I thought, “He’s got potential. We can work with him.”

Amada – Cesar comes to everybody, talks, and says, “Let’s help Johnny. He needs our help.”

Johnny – With Amada I would say, “Amada, am I doing this OK?” or “How am I doing?” And she would reply, “There’s more. You need to do it a little bit faster.” And she would make sure that we had everything done the right way as fast as possible.

Amada – Something happened—probably wasn’t Cesar, wasn’t me. It was something else we can’t understand. So I say, “Miracles exist,” because it is a miracle how much he changed. He’s another person right now. Everybody loves Johnny. I’m very, very happy with him too.

Cesar – You’re doing great. I appreciate you.

Johnny – OK, thank you.

Russ – I’ve had experiences where we’ve tried to help other people and we don’t have the tools. Deseret Industries has a lot more to offer than I had any idea of. If we need more employees, Deseret Industries is the first one to come to mind. Call them up and say, “Who have you prepared for us next?”

Nephi – Just as the Savior would take an individual and help them understand how much worth they have, that’s what Deseret Industries is trying to do.

Bishop Gentry – The Savior has a belief in all of us, and the Deseret Industries program helps assist those in need by giving them the self-worth, the self-value, that He knows they have. Other bishops should know that if they have someone who has a need in their ward through job-training skills, this is a tremendous program. I’m blown away by it.

Johnny – The experience I had at Deseret Industries was a great blessing from my Heavenly Father to have a better life.