Cumberland County’s Project SEARCH interns, who have been working and taking classes during the past 9 months in county government offices, recently graduated. Project SEARCH, in its second year at the county, is a work transition program for individuals with disabilities.

The county teamed with Goodwill Keystone Area and the Pennsylvania Office of Vocational Rehabilitation to establish a Project SEARCH program for young adults with disabilities, last year. Participants were chosen from clients of the county’s Office of Mental Health and Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities (MH.IDD), which serves Cumberland and Perry counties.

“We are very proud of our interns who got the opportunity to work in our county offices,” said Vince DiFilippo, chairman of the board of commissioners. “To see what they learned and how they grew both on the job and individually is very special.”

Interns enrolled in the program garner work experience and training through their internship at Cumberland County government departments. This year, five interns graduated; three of the five interns have jobs and two are searching for a position. The interns include:

Sean Damiano, Newville, 21

Sean is outgoing and enjoys joking and making people laugh. Some of his hobbies include playing video games with friends and learning about different cars and trucks. His true passion is for sports cars, so when he was offered a full time job at Jiffy Lube in Carlisle, he was ecstatic. In this position, he will be detailing cars, and working around the shop with the possibility of learning more difficult tasks to increase his job skills. Sean looks forward to working at Jiffy Lube for a long time.

Haley Wickard, Newville, 23

If you talk to Haley’s mentors at her intern sites, they will tell you that she was a pleasure to work with. In addition to being a hard worker, Haley has definitely been a great person to boost office morale. Everyone will miss her “Hi Buddy!” each morning, and her friendly smile. Haley has accepted a position at Dickinson College in the dining services department. She cannot wait to begin working there, learning new work tasks, and making new friends.

Natalie Crull, Landisburg, 22

Natalie likes to make people smile. She is always smiling herself.  Natalie’s hobbies include watching movies and acting out scenes from her favorite movies. In Project SEARCH, Natalie has learned that she has the ability to be more independent if she just believes in herself. Natalie said that she learned that she can do many things independently, and doesn’t always need to rely on others. Natalie’s favorite intern site was Bosler Memorial Library where she was able to help with the children’s programs. She says that she will miss everyone there, and they will miss her, too.

Lewis Davis, Boiling Springs, 25

Lewis is soft spoken and strives to do his best at all tasks that he is given. He is a hard worker and dedicated to learning new skills. All of his hard work paid off. He started his new job on May 20 at The Salvation Army Family Store & Donation Center in Camp Hill. He will be working to help organize all the donations.

Harry Spilker, Camp Hill, 25

Harry is friendly and funny. He has a passion for photography and his photographs have been displayed at Square Bean Coffee Shop in Carlisle, and other local art shows. Harry has enjoyed his internships at Claremont Nursing Home, Bosler Memorial Library, and Children and Youth Services. He is still job searching for a position that will make him happy.

Our interns rotated through jobs in the county mailroom, MH.IDD, Children and Youth Services, the information management technology office, the county library system, Claremont Nursing and Rehabilitation Center and Big Spring Senior Center, through the county’s Office of Aging and Community Services. The work was wide ranging, from clerical tasks and assisting with computer and phone setups to dietary and laundry, and helping with resident activities at the nursing home.

Created at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center in Ohio, Project SEARCH helps individuals with significant intellectual and developmental disabilities transition from school to work and secure competitive employment. Originally designed for youth making the move from high school to the working world, it has expanded to also include young adults.

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