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06.04.15 Howard County celebrates first Project SEARCH interns to complete county government program

June 4, 2014

Media Contact:
Mark Miller, Administrator, Howard County Office of Public Information, 410-313-2022

Howard County celebrates first Project SEARCH interns to complete county government program

ELLICOTT CITY, MD – Howard County Executive Allan H. Kittleman today honored the first class of Project SEARCH interns who have successfully completed their assignments in county government offices. Project SEARCH is an initiative to support employment skills and opportunities for youth with disabilities in their final year of school. During the course of this school year, participants took part in three, 10-week internships covering a wide variety of career paths to help them transition to the workplace.

“This is an impressive group of young people and they have much to contribute to their community,” said Kittleman. ”I am proud that county government is leading the way by demonstrating that all people have abilities when they are supported and given the chance. This program is a critical way to help build bright futures and independence for these individuals.”

Howard County departments including Inspections, Licenses and Permits, Public Works, Planning and Zoning, Central Services, Recreation and Parks, and Citizen Services hosted the dozen interns. These young people contributed through various office functions of scanning, filing and data entry, stocking and inventorying supplies, and cleaning and general maintenance, as well as learning apprentice skills as an electrician.

"The best part of being in Project SEARCH is the jobs,” said Matthew L. Higgs, a 20-year-old intern from Clarksville, MD, about his roles in the County mailroom, County Council office and Bureau of Facilities this year. “It is great working with Howard County Government. It will help me get the skills to find a job."

Higgs is one of the participants who completed this first class, along with:

  • Terence Dwight Butler, Jr.
  • Amanda Marein Gartside
  • Alfredo Graciano, Jr.
  • Russell Grumbine
  • Amanda Mary Jacober
  • Alexandra Elizabeth McIntyre
  • Dana Michaela Murray
  • Jane Suh
  • Sanjay Variyam
  • Daniel Haldeman White
  • Jacob Michael Yelnosky

“I am so excited to complete a successful first year of this program. Everyone involved helped make it a reality and I look forward to taking this initial experience forward to the next class,” said Kim McKay, Program Manager of Project SEARCH for the Arc of Howard County. “It means so much to the futures of these young people to have this opportunity.”

In addition to family members and worksite mentors, Kittleman was joined today by Howard County Public School System and other officials in recognizing the interns.

“Thanks to Project SEARCH Howard County the interns gain marketable job skills, work-based coaching; and an increased sense of confidence enabling them to pursue competitive employment.” said Carol Beatty, Secretary of the Maryland Department of Disabilities, who helped launch the program while Executive Director of The Arc of Howard County. She went on to say, "It takes a team to ensure this transition program works-from the instructional aspects to the funding to the workplace experience. We are fortunate to have brought together these key pieces to benefit both future members of the workforce and future employers."

Project SEARCH is a partnership of the Howard County Public School System (HCPSS), The Arc of Howard County, the Howard County Autism Society, and the Maryland Division of Rehabilitation Services (DORS). The program is funded mainly through private grants to the Arc of Howard County from The Harry and Jeanette Weinberg Foundation and the Lisa Higgins Hussman Foundation, state-funded DORS initiatives and is staffed by a combination of two Arc and two HCPSS employees.

A typical day for the interns involved an hour of class time with a HCPSS instructor, followed by work-site training and experience with a designated supervisor and mentor at their internship assignment. Planning and selections are already underway for the 2015-2016 class of interns to begin in the Fall.

About Project SEARCH
Developed at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center in 1996, Project SEARCH is housed at over 400 sites across a dozen countries. Among the nine Project SEARCH hosts in Maryland are: Anne Arundel Medical Center, BWI Hilton and Aloft Hotels, Montgomery County Government, National Institutes of Health Clinical Center, University of Maryland, University of Maryland Medical Center and Union Memorial Hospital.