OCTOBER 14, 2021 – ROCHESTER, NY — In honor of National Disability Employment Awareness Month (NDEAM), Jewish Senior Life is recognizing Project SEARCH®, a collaboration with Heritage Christian Services, now entering its fourth year. NDEAM is held each October to commemorate the various contributions of people with disabilities to America’s workplaces and economy. Project SEARCH® is a nationally recognized pre-employment program that provides individuals with the skills and experience needed to gain and maintain meaningful employment at Jewish Senior Life or elsewhere in the community. The program was both funded and brought to the Rochester area by The B. Thomas Golisano Foundation.
The 9-month program is hosted onsite at Jewish Senior Life, and is designed to support total workplace immersion – facilitating a seamless combination of curriculum-based instruction, career explorations, skills assessment, and hands-on training through three different internship rotations. “This year’s class of interns is our most diverse class yet and we are excited for them to learn from our staff and for our staff to learn from them,” says Christine Van Vessem, Vice President of Staff Development and Quality Management at Jewish Senior Life.
This particular group of interns has prompted Jewish Senior Life to make some changes to the campus for improved accessibility, including additional sidewalk modifications and adjustments to the public bathroom – specifically, lowering soap dispensers and adding a t-pull handle to more easily close the stall door. Van Vessem continues, “We have one intern in a motorized wheelchair and one intern who is blind, creating new opportunities for us to gain more knowledge and better understand how we can support them throughout the program. We are committed to being an inclusive employer and our Project SEARCH® program provides a continuous learning environment for us.”
Over the past four years, Jewish Senior Life has enrolled 33 people and 18 have completed a full year. Of those who have finished, approximately 70% are employed, and ten are employed by Jewish Senior Life. There are currently ten interns enrolled in the 2021-2022 Project SEARCH® program.
More information about Jewish Senior Life can be found at: www.jewishseniorlife.org.