Program provides real-world training
To the editor:
This week at Cheshire Medical Center/Dartmouth Hitchcock-Keene, six interns are graduating from Project SEARCH, a collaborative program that provides real world employment training to individuals who have a disability. This year’s graduates are Martin “Buddy” Burrell, Joshua Coleman and Tamra Pidgeon from Keene; Robert Daler of Temple; Zachery Mercier of Rindge; and Matthew Gould of Hancock.
MDS’s Project SEARCH prepares adults with disabilities for work — meaningful work. Although the setting is medical, at CMC Dartmouth Hitchcock-Keene, the participants receive training across many areas through a series of internships structured to teach complex but systematic skills that are competitive, marketable and transferable.
As the area organization providing supports and services for people with intellectual and related disabilities, Monadnock Developmental Services is proud to have brought Project SEARCH to the Monadnock region. As an agency we have invested significant resources in the realm of employment because we believe that work is a key element of how we define ourselves — it is at work that we are included, where we participate, where we form important relationships. We are committed to creating more able workers with disabilities, and have as our goal to increase by 10 percent the number of people employed and the hours they work.
During the past three years, more than a dozen people have completed the Project SEARCH program at CMC-DHK and gained multi-faceted work skills. Many have subsequently found jobs or are actively seeking employment now. People are working because the program is working. If you know any of our former graduates, you can ask them about their jobs. They will tell you how excited they are to be working and to be part of the workforce. Soon our current graduates will be able to tell you the same thing.
The success of Project SEARCH is the result of the combined efforts of many good people and organizations — Cheshire Medical Center, Vocational Rehabilitation, the Keene School District, MDS and, in particular, the families of interns who provide moral support, transportation, day-to-day preparation and so much more.
Success for the individuals we support, for our local businesses and for our overall communities will come through partnerships like this that provide opportunities for real skills training and employment.
Our deepest thanks to these individuals and organizations for making Project SEARCH possible, and hearty congratulations to our graduates.