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Through Project SEARCH, people with special needs gain county internships


Each month, the Bucks County Recorder of Deeds office hosts a public meeting on an interesting historical topic.

On Wednesday, attendees heard from intern Brooke Rosenberg, who has Down syndrome and is with the Recorder of Deeds office through the Bucks County Intermediate Unit’s association with Project SEARCH.

The 21-year-old explained the purpose of the monthly program and shared a little bit about the April topic — the county’s library system — before handing the presentation off to Nicole Douglas, the office’s communications coordinator.

“The closest library to me is the New Hope library and I like it because of its great staff,” said Rosenberg, to a round of applause from the audience. “I love the libraries of Bucks County.”

Brooke, who lives in New Hope with her mother Annette, is in her third internship through the IU’s Project SEARCH.

Three years ago, the county and the IU joined with the Pennsylvania Office of Vocational Rehabilitation and Bucks and Montgomery county school districts, to partner with Project SEARCH.

A global program that connects 18-to-21-year-olds with special needs with work experiences and employment training, Project SEARCH has been a great success in Bucks and Montgomery counties, explained David Fox, the IU’s Project SEARCH Bucks Skills Trainer after the presentation.

Both Fox and Douglas credited Bucks County Commissioner Chairwoman Diane Ellis-Marseglia with bringing Project SEARCH to the county and introducing dozens of young people to internships in county government, including the district attorney’s office, the sheriff’s department, DART and Neshaminy Manor Nursing Home, said Fox.

Through workplace training those on the autism spectrum as well as those with Down syndrome and other neuro-diverse differences rotate through three paid internships as they gain “real life” work experience, build a resume and pick up references.

After graduating from the program, Fox said, they are prepared for “competitive employment.”

Several in Bucks have found “high level” positions within county government.

“Their level of focus is superhuman,” he added.

As increasing numbers in the special needs community successfully join the workforce, contributing their many gifts and skills, employers and the general public’s perceptions change, Fox said.

“People recognize the untapped resources that are so valuable,” he said.

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