What can Parents and Support Staff Do to Ensure Employment Success?

Advocacy is key to making sure that young adults with disabilities are successful in their lives. This starts early on in the IEP’s, finding the right insurance, doctors, medications, therapists, social services and continues on into employment. The dream is for these adults to have as many life experiences as possible and to ensure that they are empowered to become more independent.

One of the things that is important to keep in mind is the necessity of these newly emerging adults to get out into the community. The transition years from ages 14 through 25 can be some of the most vital in forming how the person develops and sees the value of being part of their community. Parents and support staff will have to let go of their fear. This isn’t an easy process to be sure, however, it is necessary for the young adult to learn, do and possibly make mistakes in order for lessons to be learned. This is sometimes the best way to make sure that the lessons take root and help the person become confident in themselves and their own abilities. Ultimately the goal of any parent regardless of their child’s ability is for the child to be as independent and self-sufficient as possible. Finding other parents who you admire and have already taken this journey could be helpful in guiding you and your adult child toward success.

One way of assisting your child is to make sure that s/he gets out and participates in life – be it school, extra-curricular activities, outside sports organizations, volunteering, working – anything that will have the person interacting with others in their community. Get creative, sign your young person up for a sport, choir, community art class, or acting troupe. What are the person’s interests? Check out your local city’s parks and recreation offerings, the local United Way for volunteer opportunities or the nearest community college for entry-level classes that might be of interest. Help your child to learn how to traverse the local transit system, which will give him or her the freedom to manuver within the community, on their own.

Know that this transition period isn’t just for your young adult, but for you as well. You will need to learn all you can about adult systems. This isn’t going to be easy and at times not so enjoyable, but highly necessary. You will need to connect with Vocational Rehabilitation (VR), Home and Community Based Services (Full Access Brokerage and Mentor Oregon – here in Eugene), Social Security, and Medicaid. You can also be referred to benefits counseling (WIN) to learn how SSI or SSDI benefits are affected by earning a living wage. It is best to learn everything that you can to determine the best course of action needed for your young adult. Try not to limit your son or daughter based on something you heard elsewhere, it’s best to get the facts that pertain to your child and plan accordingly. I have adapted a Planning for the Future Checklist I found           (from 21 and Able) for the Eugene/Springfield area that might be useful in this process.

Another important aspect of becoming more independent is encouraging your young adult to procure a part-time job, volunteer or take part in an internship program (like ProjectSEARCH) where s/he can gain skills and experience, not to mention build their resume. It has been found that high school students who have paid, competitive employment while still in high school (just like any other typical high school student) are 2.5 times more likely to work after high school. Parents and support staff can help the process of gaining employment by having your young adult help with daily chores, getting paid around the house and neighborhood for helping with odd jobs, participating in volunteer projects, and creating and securing internships with real responsibilities. Paid employment is the first step towards lifelong employment. Since adults are motivated by money for things we want therefore they require a steady income to meet their basic needs. Learning this lesson early is important for the young adult to understand what will be expected of him/her as well as learn how to be responsible.

I will end with where we started – Advocacy. Understand that just getting a job may not be enough. Your young adult may need a job coach or other supports to get started. While your son or daughter should learn to advocate on their own behalf to get what they need from schools, employers, and local or state agencies, sometimes you may need to continue to advocate on your child’s behalf.  (At this juncture you may consider having your child participate in their own advocacy). You may even consider advocating to change the system, finding out what state initiatives need your support.

Parenting isn’t easy and being a parent of a young adult with developmental disabilities will involve a learning curve as well as the stamina to continue to forge ahead putting in place the pieces needed to ensure that your child will have what s/he needs to live an empowering, successful, independent and fulfilling life.


Never Tell Chelsea Werner, “NO”

“Chelsea Werner wasn’t supposed to develop the necessary physical attributes. She wasn’t supposed to get past the most rudimentary level of artistic gymnastics. She wasn’t supposed to show the persistence needed to stick with such a rigorous sport.

Now Werner has one national championship to her credit and is in England this weekend trying to add an international title. Victory or not, a winning message will be on display for those paying attention.” Click here to learn more about Chelsea Werner.

Project SEARCH News letters

Interested in seeing what is going on with ProjectlSEARCH? Take a look at our newsletters.



‘Round the RiverBend October 2016

‘Round the RiverBend November 2016

‘Round the RiverBend December 2016

‘Round the RiverBend January 2017

‘Round the RiverBend February 2017

‘Round the RiverBend March 2017

‘Round the RiverBend April 2017

‘Round the RiverBend May 2017

‘Round the RiverBend July 2017

‘Round the RiverBend September 2017          

Where are they Now- 2017 RiverBend Graduates

‘Round the RiverBend October 2017

UD Times- October 2017

‘Round the RiverBend November 2017

UD Times- November 2017

Project SEARCH


PeaceHealth has launched  ProjectSEARCH, a nationally acclaimed employment program for students with autism and related disabilities, and in this case individuals from Pearl Buck Center‘s production facility. This new initiative, which brings together the community, parents, and local business leaders, began in September 2016 and is one of the ways that Pearl Buck Center is answering the governor’s mandate to close sheltered workshops by 2019.

For those unfamiliar with Project SEARCH, it began 18 years ago at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital and has grown to over 400 locations worldwide. Through the program, people with developmental and intellectual disabilities will take part in a nine-12 month unpaid internship program. Project SEARCH is based entirely at a host location, such as a hospital, government agency or corporation. With full immersion in the job preparation process, interns gain extensive exposure to and experience in a work environment to ready them for competitive employment.


The program consists of a classroom component and hands-on training. Interns meet Monday through Friday for an hour in the morning and 1/2 hour in the afternoon for classroom instruction. The instructor delivers lessons on topics ranging from Team Building, Workplace safety, Technology, Self-Advocacy, Health & Wellness, Financial Literacy, to Preparing for Employment and Maintaining Employment. The interns then go to various departments in their host business and learn real life transferable job skills. At the end of the day, the interns return to the classroom to debrief and prepare for the next day. The goals of the program are to foster independence and place the interns in paying jobs within the community.


During the program, the interns learn the importance of being responsible and independent by learning how to take public transportation to work and working in an integrated setting. The interns will work together with the instructor and skills trainers on social and communication skills that are critical for a workplace through real like examples and role play as well as preparing for interviewing and keeping a job.


The ProjectSEARCH staff will match intern interests with internship opportunities and monitor intern comfort levels in the workplace and provide supports as needed.

The PeaceHealth ProjectSEARCH program will span September to May, after which Pearl Buck Center job developers will work on placing the interns into community jobs. The admissions process for the next program will begin in April 2017.

This program is especially unique because it creates a systematic bridge between students and in this case the employees of Pearl Buck Center’s production facility, adult service agencies, and community employment. Pearl Buck Center is honored to be the second sheltered workshop in the nation to launch ProjectSEARCH last year (2016). Pearl Buck Center (PBC) and PeaceHealth SarcredHeart Medical Center (PHSHMC) will be working with the Department of Human Services (DHS), Oregon Vocational Rehabilitation Services (OVRS),  Mentors of Oregon Brokerage (MOB) and Full Access Brokerage (FAB) using the Project SEARCH model to train 10 interns in this first year . For this first program, nine of the interns are from the Pearl Buck Center facility and the tenth intern is a referral from OVRS.

The admissions process, like all aspects of Project SEARCH, follows the criteria and protocol developed by the organization. Because Project SEARCH is a “braided” service model, the admissions committee includes representatives from OVRS and DHS as well as PeaceHealth and Pearl Buck Center staff.

To qualify for participation in the program an individual will need to meet a set of guidelines. The following should be considered; Willing to work and learn on the job, willing to work towards independence including living, transportation and gaining competitive employment. Commit to a 9-month unpaid internship with the intent to participate fully in the program. A person interested will need to be in their final year of school eligibility, or transitioning out of vocational programs, have a verified disability, be 18 years of age or older and have a funding source. The person should also be current on their immunizations and able to provide proof, be able to pass a drug screening and background check, be willing to undergo a 2 tiered TB test and receive the flu shot.

Those interested in more information should talk to their teachers, case managers, vocational rehabilitation counselors, and family to make sure this is a good fit for them. Next, attend an open House and ask questions, complete the application in its entirety by the deadline, and wait to hear if you will be asked to participate in the interview process with the ProjectSEARCH Committee.

We will be holding Information Open Houses, Wednesday, December 6, 2017, 5:30 – 6:30 pm, Thursday, February 22, 2018, 5:30 – 6:30 pm and Monday, May 7, 2018, 5:30 -6:30 pm at Pearl Buck Center – 3690 W. 1st Avenue, Eugene. 

To learn more or obtain an application, please contact Holly Powell – Program Director

(541) 780.6404 ext. 5115 or holly.powell@pearlbuckcenter.com

Click here to learn more about  Project SEARCH

Click here to read Pearl Buck Center’s ProjectlSEARCH brochure  ProjectSEARCH Brochure


Interested in applying? Fill out an application to begin the process. Please read the application carefully and follow the directions in order to be considered. (HINT:  Ask for assistance if you are not sure and treat the application as if you are applying for a paying job)



Fillable pdf. – PS Candidate Application -Fillable

Fillable pdf.- ps-assessment-consent-forms

E-mail completed applications to holly.powell@pearlbuckcenter.com or mail your paper copy to:   Pearl Buck Community Services, 115 W. 8th Avenue, Suite 280, Eugene, OR 97401


Watch where it all started at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital.

PBC Community Employment on KEZI

Oct. 19, 2016 Pearl Buck Center’s Community Employment was featured on our local news channel, KEZI.

Check us out in the link below:


from KEZI:

EUGENE, Ore — Pearl Buck Center continues making a difference in Lane County — empowering people with developmental disabilities.

The nonprofit offers multiple programs including employment opportunities at the Pearl Buck Center production sites and at 49 community businesses.

Jordan Hunt came to the Pearl Buck Center in May of 2016 for job employment assistance.  Pearl Buck assigned Linda Cox as his careeer coach.

“Really just try to listen to the client and see what they want and let them lead the job search,” said Cox.

Cox worked with Hunt to fine-tuned his resume and practice interview skills. Not long after working with a job coach, Hunt landed a part-time job at Mac’s Restaurant and Nightclub in Eugene.

“Number one, we don’t discriminate against anyone. We hire based on what we feel is the right person for the right position. Aces in their places in our motto here.” said Peggy Bruce, Mac’s General Manager.

Currently, 112 clients just like Hunt are enjoying a rewarding job in the community.  Hunt also gets assistance from a Pearl Buck supported living counselor.

“I’m just here to guide him in making the right decisions,” said Brooke Bodewitz.

Bodewitz and Hunt meet twice a week to talk, run errands and simply hang out. Bodewitz is a friend, a counselor, and a big supporter of Pearl Buck  Center.

“I love being able to get out and show our community that people with disabilities can still to every day things just like every other normal person,” added Bodewitz.

Hunt is example that a person with a disability is not defined by their limitations, but rather shaped by their abilities.

“You couldn’t ask for a better job than this,” said Hunt.

– See more at: http://www.kezi.com/news/Pearl_Buck_Center_Helps_Find_Jobs.html#sthash.CitAlyFn.dpuf

Who Do You See?

Olivia Wilde‘s PSA for people with Down syndrome will give you goosebumps as you watch the actress live her life while a woman with Down syndrome speaks about how she sees herself.

“Vinyl” cinematographer Reed Morano used the actress to show what it’s like to sing, run, and be a daughter, and to show that she is an “ordinary person, with an important, meaningful, beautiful life.”

“I see myself singing, dancing and laughing until I cannot breathe,” says the voiceover. “And also crying sometimes. I see myself following my dreams even if they are impossible.”olivia-wilde-down-syndrome-psa

We then see AnnaRose Rubright, a 19-year-old woman with Down syndrome, who has been speaking the whole time.


“This is how I see myself,” Rubright asks the camera, “How do you see me?”

In an interview with the Washington Post, Rubright said the commercial reflected something she has suffered her entire life — feeling like she wasn’t “regular.”

“It makes me feel sad and disappointed,” she said. “I’m not treated with respect and I’m not treated as if I’m important.”

According to the Post, there are an estimated 400,000 people living with Down syndrome in the United States. The advertisement was put together by the organization Coordown, an Italian organization.

See the video below.

Source: The Wrap http://www.thewrap.com/olivia-wildes-down-syndrome-psa-will-give-you-goosebumps-video/

Bridging the Gap

As many local companies continue to struggle with developing consistently strong workforces, many organizations and agencies are working to place individuals with both intellectual and developmental disabilities in jobs where they can make the most impact. At the same time hoping to break down barriers and change perceptions about these individuals.

For the majority of us, it can be an arduous process finding something that interests us enough to pursue a job let alone a career. And no one really guides us along through the process, yet for the most part, we are able to maneuver through the journey of learning what we are good at and finding work.

So how do people with disabilities find work in the community or learn how to navigate through life? Where do they learn what they are interested in and learn the skills necessary for gainful employment?

 Within Our Community…

Community Transition Program

Youth Transition Program

This program is designed to help students overcome barriers to employment and learn to compete in the world of work. It is unique because it combines the education services of  School Districts with the Oregon Vocational Rehabilitation Services and community employers.

Each student is assessed and then helps to develop their own Individual Plan of                       Employment. Students participate in career exploration activities and may also work on campus in the student-run YTP Bakery or gardens to develop the transferable skills necessary before they start working in the community.

is a comprehensive transition program for youth with disabilities operated collaboratively by Vocational Rehabilitation Services (VR), the Oregon Department of           Education (ODE), the University of Oregon (U of O), and local school districts statewide in Oregon.

The purpose of the program is to prepare youth with disabilities for employment or career-related post-secondary education or training.

          YTP was initially developed in seven high schools in 1990 under the auspices of a                   federal grant. The program currently operates in approximately 120 high schools in              Oregon and is funded through a combination of state and local funds from participating education and rehabilitation agencies. VR contracts with a team from the U of O to provide training and technical assistance to school and rehabilitation personnel statewide.

All current contracts with local school districts are “performance based”. This means that funded YTP sites have to meet certain performance benchmarks targeted at entering the VR system, development of an individual plan for employment (IPE), and being “engaged” (i.e. in employment or training or some combination of employment and training) upon exiting the YTP pattern of service. Meeting these benchmarks influences future funding decisions for any particular site. Funding is available on a               biennial (i.e. every 2 years) basis and funding decisions are influenced by how YTP                  sites perform towards meeting their benchmarks. For more specifics about benchmarks, documents are attached below that will help you understand performance benchmarks more clearly.

The pattern of Services:

The YTP provides services to youth beginning during the last two years of high school and continuing into the early transition years after leaving high school. All students in the program receive a comprehensive pattern of service designed to address a broad array of transition need. These services, which are similar to the CTP program include:

  •    Individualized planning, focused on post-school goals and self-determination, and    help to coordinate school plans with relevant community agencies
  •    Instruction in academic, vocational, independent living, and personal social skills        and help to stay in and complete high school
  •    Career development services including goal setting, career exploration, job search        skills, and self-advocacy
  •    Emphasis on paid employment such as connections with local employers,                        development of school-based businesses, on the job assessment and training
  •    Support services such as individualized mentoring and support or referrals for              additional specific interventions
  •    Follow-up supports for one year after leaving the program to assist in maintaining positive outcomes in employment or postsecondary settings.

NOTE: All YTP students become clients of OVRS, but a young adult with a disability that is an impediment to employment does not have to be served by YTP in order to become a client of OVRS.


Project SEARCH is an immersion model and it encourages participants to interact with peers to get the full work experience, including eating lunch and taking part in any other employee activities.

This program is working to break the barriers around young people with disabilities entering the workforce and providing them with internship opportunities that are resulting in full and part-time employment.

The Erskine-Green Training Institute

          This program located in Indiana is designed for individuals whose academic, social,                communication and adaptive skills are affected due to a disability. Most applicants                would have received special education services in the K-12 setting and exited their                  secondary school with a diploma, GED or certificate of completion. EGTI is a                              certificate program (not an accredited college degree program). Participants may                    also earn additional industry recognized certifications depending upon the program              selected. Our Curriculum at the beginning of each training session, students receive              instruction on topics within health and wellness as well as other life skills such as                  using public transportation. All training sessions are broken down into sequential                  units that are individually taught during classroom and lab time. Once students have            shown proficiency in a unit, job; shadowing and hands-on opportunities are                            scheduled for those skills. Skills build upon one another until students have                              mastered the entire job. At this point, internships begin. They train and intern in                  either the hotel, Thr3e Wise Men Brewing Co., or IU Health Ball Memorial Hospital                while completing their program. Internship hours and work readiness skills are the              focus during the last month of each training session. Classroom time is scheduled                  around internship hours. Work readiness topics include a variety of job search,                        acquisition, and retention skills, and interpersonal and personal quality skills                          necessary for employment. No more than 20 students are accepted in any session.                  Current Programs Ranging in length between nine and 13 weeks, students have a                    choice of vocational training including; Front Desk Agent and Heart of House in a                    hotel, Patient Transporter, Environmental Services and Dietary Services in a                            hospital, or Prep Cook, Dishwasher, Server Assistant and Host in a restaurant. More              programming is in development for the future.

The hotel is operated for profit. Profits are used to support EGTI and other initiatives of The Arc of Indiana.  Approximately 20% or greater of the jobs within the hotel and its restaurants are held by individuals with disabilities. EGTI and the hotel are next to the Horizon Convention Center.

This project clearly provides a resource for Indiana businesses to successfully hire and maintain employees with disabilities.

These are some of the options young people with a disability can utilize to bridge that gap from high school to the working world. Entering post-secondary education is another route this population can also participate in and some do.

Ultimately, the more experiences young people with disabilities have the more confidence they gain and the better their chances of landing a good job that fits their abilities and skill-set become.

Job Seeker – Adrian Cracknell

If you are looking for an employee that has a positive attitude, enjoys staying busy, and is excited to learn new tasks, Adrian Cracknell is the man to hire!
Adrian has many years’ experience at his family’s dog rescue, doing a wide variety of tasks including; administering medication, providing treatment to sick and injured animals, Operating facility laundry, disinfecting, cleaning and organizing pens and stables.

Adrian also has valuable experience operating a cash register, preparing food, and greeting customers. This experience will prepare Adrian for his dream job, working at a movie theater. Adrian is a huge movie buff and is always at the theater watching new releases, and envying the employees who have the coolest job in the world! Marc Anthony said, “If you do what you love, you’ll never work a day in your life” and that goal will absolutely be achieved once Adrian is employed at a theater.

Adrian’s future employment isn’t limited to working in a movie theater. He’s a talented guy who would be great in many positions. Customer service, retail, food service, and even housekeeping are jobs Adrian could really strive in. Any job relating to talking to people, and Adrian will be in his element. His upbeat personality and infectious charisma will add a certain sparkle to any company’s morale. Give Adrian a chance and he will prove to be one of your most valuable employees!

AAdrian poster (1)

If you desire an employee who will thoroughly enjoy every minute of his job, feel free to call 541-543-3507 or email adriancracknell89@gmail.com to set up an interview. Thank you!


We’re growing  our Community Employment Services department. Meet our team.

A big WELCOME to our newest Job Developers!



Chad Kennard– was born in a small town in Ohio.  After receiving his Bachelor Degree at Bowling Green State University, he moved to Colorado where he lived for the next fifteen years of his life. Chad Kennard - Job Developer During that time, he worked as a Workforce Investment Act (WIA) Employment Specialist, where he specialized in assisting people with barriers to employment find training programs that helped them  get back to work.  Chad also served as a Resource Specialist & Options Counselor for the Aging and Disabled Resource Center (ADRC) for Mesa County Colorado. Chad moved to Eugene three years ago and he is excited to be part of Pearl Buck Center’s Job Development team.



Nicole Hamilton Nicole has been in the field of Human Services since she left college. She took two years of Criminal Justice, then realized she had a passion for helping those with developmental
disabilities and changed her major to Human Services. She has been in this line of work ever since. Nicole has worked for The Arc of Lane County and has been a Personal Support Worker for the state of Oregon since 2015, working exclusively with clients who have autism.image1

Nicole was born and raised in Salt Lake City, and most of her family still lives in Utah. Nicole’s older sister, Shaylyn, has a developmental disability. She has been supported by a program just like Pearl Buck Center and has been successfully employed at a movie theater in Salt Lake for three years now. Nicole sees her sister’s happiness and pride when talking about her job, and is very excited to be able to help support people in the same way here in Oregon.
In her spare time, Nicole spends her days with her little girl, Charlotte. They enjoy hiking, swimming, eating out, and creating art and music together. Nicole is passionate about the work she does for Pearl Buck Center’s Employment Services and is excited to help people find jobs!


 Matthew Nelson – Matthew is originally from Arkansas, but came to the West Coast to work at a rsz_matthew_nelson_-_community_employmentsummer camp in 2008 and never left. As Travel Camp Director for the California non-profit Camping Unlimited for three years, Matthew took groups of up to 20 developmentally disabled teenagers and adults on camping trips to locales like Yosemite National Park, Big Sur, and Lake Tahoe. Before coming to Pearl Buck Center, Matthew and his wife Kristi served as Houseparents, living and working alongside three men who experienced developmental disabilities. In his spare time, Matthew enjoys spending time with his daughter Astoria  and wife Kristi as well as taking trips to the Coast.

Barry Buchert-is a single father of three imageteenagers that has worked in the construction trade for 30 years.
He returned to school and earned an AAS in Human Services from Lane Community College and a BS in Liberal Studies from Portland State University.  Barry has worked for Pearl Buck Center for the past year as a Discovery/Job Developer and is certified in Career Development, EOP ll, OIC, and CPR/First aid. His goal is to improve the lives of the individuals Pearl Buck Center serves by assisting them in finding work in our community.

And then there are some familiar faces to round out our team…

Linda Cox has provided support, training, job coaching and supervision to hundreds of individuals with intellectual andme developmental disabilities since she began working at Pearl Buck Center in 2006. In 2014, Linda transferred from production to community employment and took on a newly created position as
Discovery Specialist. Soon after, she started doing job development and passed her CESP exam in August 2015.

Before Linda came to Pearl Buck she worked for and helped start up several small businesses, these included an Industrial Service Company, Craft Malls, a Quilt Shop, Flower Shop and Bookkeeping Service Company. She also worked from home for several years making and selling handcrafted items, teaching decorative painting classes and published sixteen of her own quilt and craft patterns that were sold throughout the United States. She also worked as a tax consultant  and attended Lane Community college for 4 years studying accounting and business administration.

Tamathy Howald has been working with Pearl Buck Center as a Job Developer since fall of 2013. She grew up in a small town in Missouri, is the oldest of 21 children and now has four boys of her own. She attended college in Idaho, lived in Japan for two years, and on the campus of Gallaudet –  the University of the Deaf, tamathy photoin Washington DC for 3 years. She speaks Japanese and American Sign Language.

Tamathy is a founding member of No Shame Theatre Eugene, a volunteer-run theatre and performance group that gives anyone 5 minutes to perform on their stage as part of the FirstFriday Art Walk every month. The theatre group’s mission matches with Tamathy’s strong belief that everyone has something to contribute – to art, the workforce, and to making their community a better place for all.


Lorie Polk was born in Canada and grew up in Michigan, before following the Oregon trail making her way to Eugene. Lorie has been working for Pearl Buck Center for about 8 years now. She was originally hired as a Production Float and moved into Job Coaching, finally moving into a Job Developer position, which she has filled for 6 years.She has worked as a waitress, copy machine operator, and dental assistant. She has been employed at a bookstore, temp agency, and even tried her hand at selling Creative Memories scrapbooks.

It would seem that she has been gearing up for her present position because she has experienced several  different types of jobs. She has worked as a waitress, copy machine operator, dental sterilizing tech, and assistant. She has been employed at a bookstore, temp agency, grocery store, and even tried her hand at selling Creative Memories scrapbooks. Lorie has also volunteered her time with some literacy groups, outdoor learning at thArboretumum, and personal growth organizations.  Her diverse background has been useful when training clients how to do their jobs.

In her ‘free’ time, Lorie enjoys spending time with her family biking or playing board games, playing NitroType, reading, scrapbooking and other paper crafts.

Doris Steele is no stranger to Job Developing. She has been doing this type of work for over 40 years! She has seen businesses come and go and knows how to assist clients in getting and keeping jobs. DSC_0083In fact, Doris has placed several hundred clients in jobs throughout the Eugene/Springfield area.

Doris says “You just have to be in the right place at the right time and remember to go visit business often. You never know when someone will realize they need to hire someone.”

Doris enjoys gardening and spending time with her 3 granddaughters.