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

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 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.

Employer FAQ’s

The goal of Pearl Buck Center Employment Services is to create meaningful employment opportunities for people with developmental or intellectual disabilities, learning disabilities, physical disabilities or a combination, by working with businesses and the community at large.

As an employer, you may be wondering if this type of arrangement might work for your business. Perhaps you have a lot of questions, a few concerns, or you are not sure where to begin. Hopefully, these FAQ’s can help. Employers who are not in a position to hire can still contribute by generating other business contacts or providing  job shadow, work assessment or informational interview experiences.




What is a developmental or intellectual disability?

These terms are used to describe people with a cognitive disability who have difficulty learning and need assistance to carry out the practical and social activities of daily living. It is a term that is used to describe a wide range of individuals with unique skills and abilities that needn’t preclude them from participating in a work-related situation. Developmental disabilities include (but are not limited to) Down Syndrome, Cerebral Palsy, and Autism.


What is a learning disability?

This term is used to describe people who have difficulty learning and acquiring knowledge and skills to the level expected of those of the same age, especially when not associated with a physical handicap. Often these disabilities are referred to as “hidden disabilities”: the person looks perfectly “normal” and seems to be a very bright and intelligent person, yet may be unable to demonstrate the skill level expected from someone of a similar age.

A learning disability cannot be cured or fixed; it is a lifelong challenge. However, with appropriate support and intervention, people with learning disabilities can achieve success in all areas of their life including a work situation. Learning disabilities may include; Dyslexia, Dyscalculia, Dysgraphia and Memory, to name a few.


What should I expect from an employee with a developmental or learning disability?

Like anyone else, people with developmental or learning disabilities have strengths and weaknesses, talents and abilities. These talents could include experience and interest in your line of work and soft skills you find beneficial to your workplaces such as customer service skills, teamwork, and strong motivation for work. There may be someone in our program today with a developmental disability who has some or all of the specific skills you are looking for to enhance your business.


What do I have to offer?

At first, you may think that there are no jobs at your workplace for someone with a developmental disability. Take a look around. Ask your managers to list the things that they need to be done and do not have time to do, or that take time away from more skilled employees. The possibilities are endless. You don’t have to work this out alone, either. If you’re not sure how a person with a developmental or learning disability can fit into your business, call us to arrange a tour so we can observe the work environment, learn about your specific business needs, and offer suggestions.


I can’t offer a full-time job. Does that mean I can’t hire someone?

Not at all. Many people with developmental disabilities are interested in working part-time. Some people that we work with are only seeking 20 hours or less per week. In fact, part-time employment may be the best way for an employee to learn and master the skills needed for your business.

How will this affect my other employees?

Many co-workers tell us that working alongside a person with a developmental disability has enhanced their teamwork and their work culture. If your employees are uncertain about the concept initially, it’s usually because they have no idea what to expect. We can help you address this issue in several ways. An employment consultant from Pearl Buck Center can visit your business and individually meet with staff to help answer any questions or address concerns that may exist. As your business needs and personnel are always changing, we are there to help you meet these challenges. You and your employees needn’t worry that they will be required to train the new employee. Other than for the initial training, Pearl Buck Center Community Services will provide a job trainer/coach who will provide any additional training/coaching needs.


What about accommodating special needs?

If you think about it, you are accommodating the individual needs of employees all the time, usually, this happens after the person has been hired. This may range from providing hand rests for staff using computers, flex time programs, to simply helping a co-worker with physical tasks that they are not strong enough to carry out themselves.

We may already be aware of the accommodations that will be needed for the new employee prior to hiring and can assist with putting something in place at the very beginning. Most of the time, making accommodations for someone is simple and does not cost your business anything at all. These may include; extra training time, altering schedules or tasks. And some accommodations are very low cost, like; headphones, additional lighting or purchasing a digital clock. If necessary, there are grants available for workplace modifications or assistive technologies. Keep in mind that many of the accommodations are universal and will be beneficial to your other employees as well and thus making everyone’s job more efficient.

Ask us for more information, part of our services include assisting with many of the accommodations that may be needed, from supplying simple task lists or time management tools to providing the extra training that may be needed.


Will I have support?

Absolutely! If you decide to hire someone with a developmental disability, a job coach is available to help you or your staff train the person. As your new employee learns the skills needed for the job, the job coach fades back or entirely out of the picture. If you need help teaching your employee new skills, later on, a phone call is all it takes to bring the job coach back to the forefront or back to the worksite.


What about liability?

As a responsible employer, you are already providing a healthy and safe workplace, and your business has Workers Compensation and general insurance coverage. Hiring someone with a developmental disability does not increase your liability. If there is a medical condition or anything else that could affect health and safety on the job, you need to know about it, just as you would with any other employee.  We find that many of the individuals that we work with are extremely aware of safety on a worksite and like anyone, they really don’t want to be hurt or cause harm to a co-worker.


What about wages?

Employees with developmental disabilities earn minimum wage or above depending on the assigned job duties and the employer’s pay scale.


How will this benefit my business?

Many employers are finding it hard to find reliable, long term, entry-level employees. People with developmental disabilities are a labor source that is vastly underutilized by most industries and businesses. Many employers tell us that hiring someone with a developmental disability is not only great for the business community and company culture but cost-effective toward their bottom line as well.

Businesses have cited that overall there is less turnover and absenteeism, higher morale and workplace loyalty as well as an uptick in productivity and business as a result of hiring people with developmental disabilities.


What if I’m not able to hire, how else might I be able to get involved?

If you aren’t able to hire through us at this time we would highly encourage you to work with us in other ways. We are always looking for opportunities to partner with a business that will allow our clients, work or interview experiences.

Job Shadowing –is a work experience option where a person learns about a job by walking through the work day as a shadow to a competent worker. The job shadowing work experience is a temporary, unpaid exposure to the workplace in an occupational area of interest to the person.

Work Experience Assessments –is any experience that a person gains while temporarily working in a specific field or occupation, but the expression is widely used to mean a type of volunteer work that is commonly intended for people to get a feel for professional working environments. We use this type of experience to gather information from both the ’employer’ and the ’employee’, to assess the skills of the individual and train new skills. We usually ask that the  assessment lasts for 30 days or more.

Internship –is a temporary position with an emphasis on on-the-job training rather than merely employment, and it can be paid or unpaid.

Informational Interviews –(also known as an Informational conversation) is a meeting in which a potential job seeker seeks advice on their career, the industry, and the corporate culture of a potential future workplace; while an employed professional learns about the job seeker and judges their professional potential and fit to the corporate culture, thereby building their candidate pool for future hires. This differs from a job interview because the conversation is not about hiring and not about a specific job. The potential candidate asks general questions about the nature of the company or the industry, and the “insider” learns his or her professional character at the same time.

Please feel free in contacting us if you are able to provide any of these types of experiences-


I just don’t have much time to invest, are there other ways I can partner with Pearl Buck Center?

We realize that time is money and value your interest in partnering with us in any way possible. Perhaps you could speak with your business contacts/associates, asking if they have the need to hire from Pearl Buck Center or get involved in some way. Passing on our contact information would be appreciated.

Being a not-for-profit we are also always looking for businesses to partner with by way of donations if you are not able to participate in any of the ways listed above, but still want to contribute.  In addition, we have need for sponsors and/or attendees to fundraising events, as well as volunteer opportunities. You can contact our Director of Leadership Giving, Christine Richman for more information.

One last way you can work with Pearl Buck Center is if you have food packaging, simple or systematic assembly, mailing or engraving jobs that need filling , consider using our production center. Get in touch with John Whalen, our Operations Specialist/Business Developer and schedule a tour to see how we can assist you with your business needs.

Hopefully, we have answered many of the questions that you have. If we missed something, please contact us and schedule an appointment so we can discuss further any remaining concerns or questions that we haven’t covered here.

Please Support our Business Partners!

We have had the pleasure of working with many outstanding businesses.  Pearl Buck Center Community Employment Services would like to take the time to thank our business partners for being willing to hire some amazing people who have turned out to be pretty spectacular employees!


Saturday Market                              

 Falling Sky                                              


Lively Pool

Oak Street Day Care                      

 Woodland Park                                     

Mattress Mania

T.J. Maxx                                          

City of Eugene                                        

Purakal Cylinders


Chambers Construction                      

 Togo’s Sandwiches

 Valley River Inn                              

Selco Community Credit Union         

Fuller Cabinets

Dari Mart                                           

Cottage Grove DMV                              



 Harlequin Beads                                    


Serenity Lane  

Papa Murphy’s                                    

 Carl’s Jr.

Burger King

Westmoreland -Lane ESD


Mac’s at the Vet’s Club

South Hills Center (in the Tamarack Building)

Grandma’s House

Busy Bee

McKenzie Sew on


Center for Dialogue and Resolution

Kendall Ford

Bread Stop

Our Redeemer Lutheran Church

Living Hope Church

Springfield DHS

Springfield Tap Water

Kellermeyer Bergensons Services (KBS)

Lane Community College

Oil Can Henry


Total Facility Services (ERMC)

Please help us thank them by supporting these organizations with your business and contacting them to let them know that you appreciate that they have hired a person who experiences a developmental disability, through Pearl Buck Center.


Celebrating 20 Years of Service

RJ Cake

Rick Jones has worked at Dari Mart for 20 years and he wouldn’t have had this opportunity had it not been for Pat Straube and her dedication to the inclusion of people with developmental disabilities in the work place, specifically – Dari Mart.RJ & Pat.JPG

Because of Pat’s willingness to work with Pearl Buck Center and the people we serve over 12 people have had the opportunity to experience what everyone else who has ever held a job gets to experience – a sense of accomplishment, belonging, the chance to learn and acquire new skills, earn a pay check and be responsible to pay bills.

Rick worked with many different managers of Dari Mart, numerous job coaches from Pearl Buck Center and at several locations. The only thing constant in Rick’s 20 years of service was his ever present kidding around,  his job duties and the impact that his job made on the work load of his co-workers.

Rick’s present manager-Britney as well as some of his previous managers and Pat Staube, herself put together a retirement party to honor & celebrate Rick’s accomplishment.


A Letter from our newest Business Partner


We are so excited about our newest partnership with the South Hills Center located in the Tamarack Building and so are they! Here is a letter that was sent out to their community.

Hi Folks,

This week begins a partnership with Pearl Buck Center to provide janitorial staffing at South Hills Center [at the Tamarack Building].

Their mission:

“Pearl Buck Center offers people with disabilities and their families quality choices and supports to achieve their goals.”

We are happy to welcome Cody Grimes and staffing coach Linda Cox to the SHC Community.

Cody and Linda

Cody is originally from Chicago and moved to the Eugene-Springfield area about four years ago. He has been working at the Pearl Buck production facility for the last 1.5 years and also has experience working at a local auto-body shop. He is a Duck fan and a Dallas Cowboy fan. He’ll be working evenings after the last yoga class ends on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday nights.

Linda will be offering coaching assistance for Cody while he works. She is a Job Developer at Pearl Buck Center working with a variety of different people in the program. She was born in Springfield and has lived here most of her life. Linda has a daughter and a 5 year old grandson. She’s a Duck fan, enjoys crafting and worked previously at H&R Block for about 10 years.

Thanks for being part of the team Cody & Linda! The work you do is important for keeping this facility available for all the many people we serve.

Welcome aboard!


Rozek & Daggett, LLC • Coaching • Consulting • Workshops •

South Hills Center, LLC • General Manager •

Mail: PO Box 518, Marcola, OR 97454 Cell541-912-4940 Desk541-484-6100

If you are interested in partnering up with Pearl Buck Center’s Employment Services, give us a call and let us know. We would welcome your interest and ideas.

Employment Success Story: Togo’s Sandwiches

Our friends at KEZI recently aired a story profiling some of Pearl Buck’s successful partnerships with local businesses.  If you haven’t seen it yet, it’s definitely worth a watch.

Here’s a link to the full story, on the KEZI site:

Togo’s Sandwiches is one of the businesses featured in that video, and lobby attendants Paul Koerner and Sheri Clack are a major part of what’s made our partnership with them such a success.  Both add real value to Togo’s business by offering stellar customer service, improving operational efficiency, and contributing to positive overall workplace morale.  Togo’s manager Lionel Jeffery sat down with us a few months ago for a brief interview about his experience working with Paul and Pearl Buck:

Lionel collaborated with Pearl Buck’s community employment program to match Togo’s needs with Paul and Sheri’s strengths.  We believe in this custom-fit employment model because we’ve seen it work time and again, in a diverse variety of industries.  If you’re interested in learning more, please get in touch; our community employment team would be happy to tell you more about what we do, and how you can get involved.  We’ll be introducing the team over the next several monthly posts, so stay tuned!