News  DDS June 2023 Newsletter

  • Department of Developmental Services
Graphic reading DDS News and Updates: June 2023

Summer Celebrations at DDS

A Message from Commissioner Jane F. Ryder

Dear DDS Community,

I’m pleased to wish you all a happy start to summer. As a Worcester native, I know that the summers feel well deserved here after long, grey New England winters! While we’re all excited about the sunshine, summer doesn’t mean a slowdown of activity here at DDS.

This month, I was thrilled to celebrate the 2023 Opportunity Works Project SEARCH graduates in Haverhill, who completed their 9-month internships.

This year’s graduation was especially meaningful, as this is the 10th year of Northern Essex Community College (NECC) and Opportunity Works’ ProjectSEARCH collaboration.

This program places young adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities and autism spectrum disorder into internships at NECC, rotating through departments based on their job goals and interests.

In this cohort, folks worked in landscaping, as part of the Public Health Response Team, in the YMCA daycare, and so much more.

An important part of this program is that it does not end at graduation. The skills, connections, and confidence that these folks gain in their internships lead the way for them to continue pursuing their employment goals in future jobs.       

One example of many success stories from ProjectSEARCH involves a young woman named Emely. Passionate about fashion and make-up, Emely dreamt of working at Sephora. After graduation, not only did she land her dream job, but she was named “employee of the month” in her second month. Emely just celebrated her one-year anniversary on the job. 

It's wonderful to see the work of our provider agencies and community partners who make the DDS mission possible – creating opportunities for supported employment and meaningful community integration. You can read more about the 2022 ProjectSEARCH class and their current jobs, and the 2023 graduating class.

I hope you join me in congratulating these graduates, and the staff and providers who have supported them in these incredible accomplishments!


Commissioner Jane F. Ryder

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