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On January 4, we marked a remarkable day brimming with achievements as we celebrated the graduation of eight incredible Project SEARCH interns. In partnership with the City of Salem, Albertina Kerr facilitated a transformative journey in Marion County, offering life-changing opportunities for individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities (I/DD).

Over the past nine months, these dedicated interns embarked on a journey of self-discovery as they rotated through three City of Salem departments. Their roles included assignments in the Police Department, Fire Department, Public Works, Payroll, Facilities, and the Library. They explored different job roles, gained invaluable skills, and uncovered their unique talents. The experience was not just about employment but also about personal growth.

During their graduation ceremony, each intern shared their experiences with presentations detailing their new job skills and showcasing their determination and resilience. The graduates heard from several speakers acknowledging their achievements and the profound impact of Project SEARCH, including City of Salem Mayor Chris Hoy, City of Salem Deputy City Manager Krishna Namburi, and Albertina Kerr CEO Allison Stark.

Project SEARCH allows adults with I/DD to learn competitive, transferable, and marketable job skills while gaining increased independence, confidence, and self-esteem. An onsite instructor and skills trainers guide them through job tasks, building skills, and vocational abilities. At the program’s conclusion, the interns receive assistance in their job search, ensuring a smooth transition to meaningful employment.

Albertina Kerr CEO Allison Stark highlighted a critical issue, stating, “The unemployment rate for people with I/DD is more than twice the national average.” Project SEARCH aims to change this narrative by creating opportunities for interns to acquire skills that will enable them to find and maintain employment post-internship.

Albertina Kerr’s collaboration with the City of Salem is transforming the lives of individuals with I/DD and setting an example for inclusive and diverse workplaces across the nation. As we celebrate the achievements of these inspiring interns, we look forward to a brighter future filled with opportunities for all, irrespective of their abilities.

To learn more about current Project SEARCH opportunities facilitated by Albertina Kerr, email [email protected].