McDaniel undergraduate and graduate students have a unique opportunity to gain valuable work experience and make meaningful connections while attending school.
Target Community & Educational Services, Inc., a non-profit organization, was founded after a group of parents of children with disabilities were concerned about the well-being of their children.
In 1983, Target Community paired with McDaniel College “to link McDaniel’s Human Services Management Masters Program Degree Program to an organization that provides high-quality service to individuals with disabilities.”
This program provides people in the community with experience working with people who have intellectual disabilities.
Theater Arts Major and Target Community employee De’Andre Taylor says “working at Target Community has given me a chance to reconnect with my past experience of caring for an older family member.”
“Having an establishment like this one in the community is great because it gives young students the opportunity to connect with people who are different from them, while at the same time providing a deeper understanding and appreciation of individuals with intellectual disabilities,” he explains.
In the past, individuals with intellectual disabilities were segregated and shunned from the general population. Once these individuals reached adulthood, they were often isolated and kept in institutions.
In 1975, after the Individuals with Disabilities Act was passed, students with intellectual disabilities were finally able to attend public school. In 1990, the Adults with Disabilities Act was passed, which prohibited the discrimination of individuals with intellectual disabilities in the work force.
Target has two houses in Westminster with three live-in clients each, and in each house there are two graduate students from McDaniel that act as house directors.
In addition to these grad students, undergraduate students are also hired to be a part of the 24-hour housing staff.
Organizations like this promote the cohesion of outside community members and individuals with disabilities.
Through this program, individuals are submerged in the real world through activities such as attending jobs, going grocery shopping, and money management.
Members of the community interact with the individuals with disabilities while they are exposed to acceptable behavior and positive examples set by those in the community.
Thomas J. Zirpoli, President & CEO of Target Community says “the clients benefit from not living in institutions. They also learn social skills and community behavior from those they are exposed to.”
“Upon participating in the live-in program I’ve seen clients go on to be successful at their jobs, become productive members of society, and even marry,” he adds.
Target Community & Educational Services has locations in Westminister and Montgomery County, Maryland.
In addition to the live-in program for their clients, their services also include: educational, vocational, recreational, and family support services.
As of now there are no plans to expand the program.
If you are interested in expanding your horizons and building connections with individuals in the community, contact the Target Community & Educational Services’ office at (410) 848-9090 or email at firstname.lastname@example.org.