For Immediate Release - August 14, 2013

Patrick Administration Honors Massachusetts Commission for the Blind’s Ten Years of Successfully Placing Summer Interns

BOSTON — The Patrick Administration’s Massachusetts Commission for the Blind (MCB) yesterday celebrated its tenth year of the MCB Summer Internship Program, as well as the 82 summer interns who participated at the University of Massachusetts Boston this year. The nationally recognized Summer Internship Program connects MCB consumer students or individuals looking to re-enter the workforce with real employment positions throughout the Commonwealth and the opportunity to develop professional skills in real-world settings.

“In 2009, Governor Deval Patrick signed an Executive Order to make Massachusetts a model employer of people with disabilities,” said Health and Human Services Secretary John Polanowicz. “This internship program is a critical part of ensuring access to opportunities that develop professional skills that lead to economic self-sufficiency.”

“The MCB Internship program not only prepares individuals who are blind to become significant contributors in the workforce, but also provides employers with a real-world partnership that focuses on the skills and abilities of a person who is blind in addition to promoting the mutually beneficial relationship between the business community and the Public Vocational Rehabilitation program.” said MCB Commissioner Janet LaBreck. “We are committed to partnering with employers to break down barriers that limit success and independence. It is the goal of MCB to establish a national model that reflects the commitment to promoting qualified individuals who are highly skilled and ready to work when given the opportunity.”

The MCB internship program is a national model that has been replicated in several states. The students spent eight weeks gaining experience working for media outlets, hospitals, private companies, colleges and universities, public agencies and elected officials.

"The Institute for Human Centered Design is thrilled to be a partner with MCB,” said Institute for Human Centered Design Coordinator of Public Programs Willa Crolius, who spoke at the ceremony. "Our organization and our staff have benefited significantly by participating in the MCB’s Internship Program“ It has been a great experience for us and it allowed the intern to see the many different aspects of our organization.”

The audience also heard from Michelle Wallace, a sophomore at Suffolk University, who is currently doing her internship in Governor Patrick’s Office. "Having the chance to get real hands-on experience with the Governor’s Office is something I will treasure as I explore opportunities in my field,” said Wallace.

Mathayu Warren-Lane, President of Hollywood Access Services delivered the keynote address at the ceremony. He has had an extensive career in the field of audio description and has been recognized for his work as a describer with some of Hollywood’s biggest films. Warren-Lane is responsible for the creation of the first blind cartoon character on the Emmy award-winning PBS series “Arthur.”

More than 250 people came out to celebrate and share the students’ success. MCB Commissioner LaBreck presented certificates of appreciation to each student and their employer. Commissioner LaBreck and Mathayu Warren-Lane also presented the fourth “Reach for the Stars Leadership Award” to five interns who received a $1,000-$1,500 award for their education. These awards recognize the outstanding accomplishments and potential of these MCB interns.

Recipients of the Reach for the Stars Leadership Awards are:

  • Sarah Wiles, Longmeadow
  • Precious Perez, Chelsea
  • Milissa Garside, Cambridge
  • Joe McCormick, Melrose
  • Matthew Sweeney, Billerica

About the Massachusetts Commission for the Blind (MCB)

The Massachusetts Commission for the Blind, an agency of the Executive Office of Health and Human Services, provides the highest quality rehabilitation and social services to blind individuals, leading to independence and full community participation. MCB accomplishes this critical mission by working in partnership with consumers who are legally blind, families, community agencies, health care providers, and employers.

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