Project Search helps students with disabilities get and keep jobs

GETZVILLE, N.Y. (WIVB) — When it comes to the kitchen, Alexander Gehm serves with a smile.

“Serving the food you know. I don’t like cleaning the dishes, but it’s part of the job,” said Alexander Gehm, Beechwood Continuing Care Dining Services Aid.

Alexander makes sure senior citizens are fed at Beechwood Continuing Care, where he works 37 to 40 hours a week. It’s one of several responsibilities he has in his position as a Dining Aid.

“He loves his job he takes a lot of pride in what he does, he interacts with the residents,” said Alan Venesky, Project Search Program Coordinator.

He’s one of many success stories through a program called Project Search, that helps high school seniors with a wide range of disabilities get and keep a job.

“A lot of our students come here and they have a whole school year to learn job skills but what they’re lacking is those interpersonal skills and those social skills, and that’s what our team focuses on for that final school year,” said Venesky.

Through working with a teacher, an aid, and a job coach, Alexander was able to work through struggles he faced with his learning disability.

“There’s parents out there who are wondering what their kids are going to do post high school, they don’t have a plan and they know that their young adults are not college bound so Project Search could be a solution to solving that problem,” said Venesky.

Like most jobs, there’s usually some parts of it you like more than others. For Alexander, that’s talking with residents.

“When you have like 20-30 people in a household and you clean up after 30 people, that’s a lot of dishes,” said Gehm.

For more information on Project Search go to https://www.e1b.org/StudentsofAllAges/SpecialEducation.aspx?ArticleId=259

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