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Search Celebrates NDEAM by Advancing Competitive Employment

Did you know that October is National Disability Employment Awareness Month (NDEAM)? NDEAM is a national campaign that raises awareness about the many contributions of America's workers with disabilities. Search, Inc. is proud to recognize NDEAM and announce our commitment to advancing employment for people with disabilities.

NDEAM's roots go back to 1945. Now, 70 years later, this important campaign has grown from a recognition week to a month and broadened its purpose to include individuals with all types of disabilities. In 2001 the Office of Disability Employment Policy assumed responsibility for NDEAM and has worked to expand its reach and scope ever since.

Search is celebrating NDEAM by sharing some of our exciting progress in advancing competitive employment for people with disabilities. Recently, Search consolidated several employment initiatives under a Career Services umbrella, which has allowed us to more effectively identify and support individuals who are ready to seek employment in the community.

Expanding Competitive Employment Opportunities

This year marks the launch of a major initiative to create competitive employment opportunities at Planet Access Company (PAC), Search's very own social enterprise. PAC is a third-party logistics provider and warehouse. Since its launch in 1997, PAC has generated thousands of hours of paid work and vocational training for people with disabilities. In conjunction with its move and expansion to a new, larger warehouse site in Des Plaines and generous investment from The Coleman Foundation, Search has been able to create new competitive job placements for individuals with disabilities, at minimum wage or better. Support from The Coleman Foundation has also allowed Search to grow its intensive 12-week training program for high school transition students at PAC. This unique training program provides young adults with important skills that can be applied any future employment setting.

Kristina is our first competitive placement in the PAC Warehouse and began her new job as a Return Specialist Clerk in October 2015. In her new position, Kristina handles web returns, picks orders, and ensures clothes aren't damaged. Before beginning her new position, Kristina spent 4 years learning vocational skills such as creating labels, assembling kits, and folding clothes through paid, train-to-work opportunities at PAC. She is very excited about her new job and satisfied with seeing her hard work pay off. Kristina thinks that businesses should hire people with disabilities "to show that they can do the job too." Kristina is fluent in both English and Russian and is a voracious reader. Her favorite author is Nora Roberts.

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