October is National Disability Month!
Project Search is a unique, business-led, one-year school-to-work program that is taught entirely at the workplace. The goal of Project Search is to increase sustainable employment and self-sufficiency of those interns who participate.
Each year for the last five years, approximately a dozen new interns-all people with I/DD-arrive at the Anne Arundel Medical Center (AAMC) to participate in the 10-month Project Search program to learn about the job roles in each of the departments, meet and work with staff, and gain new skills with the goal of obtaining a viable job after graduation.
Chris Knapp, who completed Project Search this past June and is supported by The Arc Central Chesapeake Region (The Arc CCR), discovered that he enjoyed working in the food services department and was hired on as a part-time employee in August. According to his supervisor, Milton Somerville, Chris takes his job very seriously. “He arrives on time, gets straight to work and is very focused. His job coach is very patient with him, and when he gets frustrated with a task, they work through the challenge together.”
Chris is part of the team that helps keep the food department’s operations running smoothly. In addition to helping with stocking dishes, Chris cleans the food carts and sets up food trays with beverages-a job not every employee would find interesting, but one Chris enjoys.
Somerville understands the value of hiring a person with I/DD. “I didn’t judge Chris by his disability and instead gave him a chance because of his ability to do the work based on his internship training. Chris is one of the most loyal and dedicated employees I have worked with. ”
National Disability Employment Awareness Month is being celebrated throughout the month of October, and we give thanks to the AAMC for being a partner invested in ensuring that all people in our community have the opportunity to receive job training and an opportunity for employment.