Good Shepherd Holds Project SEARCH Graduation on June 13

Good Shepherd Rehabilitation Network’s Project SEARCH program will hold its graduation ceremony on Thursday, June 13, at 10 a.m. in the Conrad W. Raker Center (601 St. John St., Allentown) multipurpose room. Eight Good Shepherd Rehabilitation Network interns and four Lehigh County 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 and provides the participants with real world experiences and the skills they need to become valued employees for local businesses and organizations. This past fall, a Project SEARCH program was also initiated in by Lehigh County. These interns worked at the Lehigh County government building, Lehigh Valley Zoo and Cedarbrook Nursing Home.

This year’s Good Shepherd graduates are: Rebekah Adelman of Emmaus (East Penn School District); Christopher Beamer of Center Valley (Southern Lehigh School District); Sewar Hadid of Whitehall (Whitehall-Coplay School District); Nick Lacko of Allentown (Salisbury School District); Jennifer Larimer of Macungie (East Penn); Christopher Nickerson of Emmaus (East Penn); Alexa Reiner of Center Valley (Southern Lehigh); and Luisa Torres of Catasauqua (Catasauqua Area School District).

Lehigh County graduates are: Briana Hall of Allentown (Parkland School District); Sara McCarry of Orefield (Parkland); Andre Walck of Emmaus (East Penn); and Dylan Zandarski of Allentown (Salisbury).

Four of this year’s Good Shepherd graduates have already secured employment. Among them is Luisa Torres of Catasauqua. Project SEARCH has taught Luisa the skills to manage her disability and shown her how to access community supports that will help her be successful as an adult.

“Luisa grew up in a small town, which was the only world she knew. She was a timid and shy young lady,” Danielle Roland, Project SEARCH Coordinator, CLIU #21.  “By learning how to self-advocate and manage her own needs, including accessing public transportation, she has embraced her community, traveling independently to and from work and to appointments. She loves the new life she has created for herself.

“Working with mentors on the Good Shepherd staff, she also learned to meet employer standards. She has done that with great success and has been hired by Goodwill Keystone Area to work at Kraft Foods as a housekeeper.

“The Project SEARCH team is very proud of her and all of our interns on the growth they have achieved throughout the year,” says Roland.

Two of this year’s Good Shepherd Project SEARCH graduates are working at Cedarbrook Nursing Home in Bethlehem as hospitality aides and another one is working for Goodwill Keystone Area at Kraft Foods.

Good Shepherd is the first Project SEARCH site in the state. 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.

Contact: Emily Eider, Good Shepherd Marketing & Communications, 610-776-3553