Good Shepherd Holds Project SEARCH Graduation on June 13

Good Shepherd Rehabilitation Network’s Project SEARCH program will hold its graduation ceremony on Friday, June 13, at 2 p.m. at Cedarbrook Nursing Home (350 South Cedarbrook Road, Allentown). Seven Good Shepherd Rehabilitation Network interns and eight Lehigh County Cedarbrook Nursing Home interns will be honored.
Project SEARCH helps students with various disabilities learn soft skills and self-advocacy skills needed for today’s competitive job marketplace. The nine-month program places the students in various jobs at Good Shepherd’s Allentown Campus and Lehigh County’s Cedarbrook Nursing Home. Participants gain real world experience and the skills they need to become valued employees for local businesses and organizations. 
This year’s Good Shepherd graduates are: Matthew Chorney of Laurys Station (Parkland School District); Shelby Knappenberger of Emmaus (East Penn School District); Rebecca Macasevich of Coplay (Whitehall-Coplay School District); Brandon Pasko of Allentown (Allentown School District); Jolynne Rackus of Whitehall (Whitehall-Coplay School District); Timothy Senters of Center Valley (Southern Lehigh School District); Jeffrey Snyder of Macungie (East Penn School District). 
Lehigh County graduates are: Eric Bartlett of Allentown (Parkland School District); Rebecca Frey of Breinigsville (Parkland School District); Jonathan Hammer of Center Valley (Southern Lehigh School District); Travis Johnson of Allentown (Parkland School District); Stacy Ludwig of Emmaus (East Penn School District); Tyler Pollick of Easton (Easton Area School District); Tyler Routson of Allentown (Parkland School District); and Christopher Seminara of Coplay (Parkland School District).
“Project SEARCH is an important program for young adults with disabilities,” says Erin Rogers, Good Shepherd’s Project SEARCH instructor, CLIU #21. “I see so much growth in our students throughout the year. They develop their communication skills, sense of responsibility and independence. Our students demonstrate a drive to constantly better themselves.”
“One student in particular who exhibited an amazing drive to succeed this year is Shelby Knappenberger,” says Rogers.  Knappenberger was in a car accident in December that resulted in bilateral femur fractures, a concussion, broken pelvis and broken sternum. After discharge from an acute-care hospital, she spent about 10 days as a patient at Good Shepherd Rehabilitation Hospital. “The experience gave me a better perspective of what it is like to be a patient. I am more compassionate and understanding now,” says Knappenberger, who returned to Project SEARCH and Good Shepherd in March.
“Project SEARCH has given me more confidence,” she says. “I would like to go to college and get a degree. I am interested in working in health care now.”
Employees provide training and mentoring to the interns in such areas as inpatient and outpatient therapy, maintenance, housekeeping, laundry, security and food services. “Mentors are the driving force behind the success of the program,” says Rogers. “They put the pieces of the puzzle together and guide the students to their success.”
Good Shepherd was the first Project SEARCH site in Pennsylvania. The program, which originated at Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center in 1997, is a partnership between Good Shepherd Rehabilitation Network, Carbon-Lehigh Intermediate Unit 21, the Office of Vocational Rehabilitation, Lehigh County and the Office of Intellectual Disabilities, Lehigh County.