Since 1984, KenCrest has worked in Pennsylvania communities to build employer partnerships, identify existing paid employment opportunities, and create new, customized paid positions for people with disabilities.
KenCrest matches job candidates with their careers based on their skills and preferences for employment. Our employment goals focus on providing each person with the type of employment they want and will enjoy. Our trained and certified staff’s objective is to assist individuals in finding careers they love and supporting their success.
Supported Employment is a service option that empowers people with intellectual disabilities and autism to achieve paid work in their community. The supported employment program at KenCrest encompasses traditional job support methodologies as well as customized employment and school-to-career supports for youth. Find out more about our supported and customized employment services.
Ticket to Work is a program of the Social Security Administration that supports career development for people with disabilities who want to work. Social Security disability beneficiaries ages 18 through 64 qualify for the Ticket to Work program, which is free and voluntary. The goal of the program is to help people with disabilities progress toward financial stability and independence. Visit our Ticket to Work page for more information.
Benefits Counseling is a free service that helps Social Security disability beneficiaries to make informed choices about SSA benefits, employment, and financial goals. Counselors provide beneficiaries with a personalized plan so they can work and earn to their fullest potential. Whether beneficiaries need supports to try work, assistance maintaining a job, the need to obtain items necessary for work, save income, or maintain cash and medical benefits, a Benefits Counselor can put beneficiaries on the path to occupational and financial independence. For more information about benefits counseling through KenCrest, please contact Wendy Pollock at email@example.com.
KenCrest Employer Partners
In order to place more people in rewarding jobs in their communities, KenCrest asks for your help in identifying potential businesses that might be interested in providing employment to people with disabilities. If you know of a business in Southeastern PA that we could contact for a conversation about being an Employment Partner with KenCrest, please contact Alli Smale, Director of Employment Programs at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 610-633-0104.
For those who are already Employer Partners of KenCrest, we’re committed to supporting you through this pandemic. The link to the following PDF outlines our strategy to keep your businesses and our stakeholders safe.
KenCrest National Disability Employment Awareness Month (NDEAM) Stories
Roy is employed at Ollie’s in Pottstown, Pennsylvania. A large retail store, Roy likes the wide range of merchandise and works hard to keep the store in clean, welcoming condition. Roy’s workplace responsibilities are primarily custodial, including keeping floors free of debris, spills, and other messes, as well as sanitizing the bathrooms.
Roy likes to work as much as he is able and one of his favorite parts of employment is that he’s able to get out of the house and interact with peers.
“We would like to see Roy working behind the cash register too,” says Rick, Roy’s job coach who has been part of the KenCrest Family for 1.5 years. “Possibly, we also hope for him to transition to a full-time employee.”
Before Roy worked with Rick, he was supported by employment consultants, Tyler and Debbie. “Roy is kind, friendly, generous, and has a great heart,” says Ricks. “He constantly asks how Tyler and Debbie are doing and truly cares about the people around him.”
We are excited to watch Roy continue to amaze in the workplace and see where his kindness takes him!
Wendy Pollock began her career journey with KenCrest in 1985 as an Office Manager in the Pottstown, PA day program. Since that time, Wendy has also been an Administrative Assistant in the Community Based Programs. She’s now the Community Partner Work Incentives Counselor in KenCrest’s Employment department.
“I’ve always been drawn to employment,” said Wendy. “Employment makes a person feel productive and valued. It helps expand a person’s social network and gives them a sense of community.”
When Wendy found out that the Employment department was creating a new position for a Benefits Counselor, she was excited. She felt there was a huge need for this work and wanted to help debunk the myths around Social Security benefits and employment.
“These myths scare people away from working to their full potential,” said Wendy. “My job allows me to help people understand their Social Security benefits and the impact work will have on them. I get to give people good news…people who work will always make more money and maintain their benefits long term…possibly forever.”
On a typical day, Wendy works with beneficiaries, helping them to navigate their Social Security. She gives them advice for continuing health coverage, maximizing revenue, and employment. Wendy spends the majority of her day counseling, training, and talking to people with questions on the phone. She needs to stay on top of the ever-changing regulations around Social Security benefits.
“The best part of my job is meeting and helping people,” remarked Wendy. “Supporting people to achieve their goals is very fulfilling.”
Robert is a unique employee who enjoys having a to-do list and accomplishing tasks one by one. He currently balances two jobs, one at Giant and the other at Sullivan’s Steakhouse. The busy lifestyle isn’t a bother to Robert, instead he enjoys having something to do.
A housekeeper at both establishments, Robert maintains the cleanliness of Giant to keep the floors shiny, aisles clear, and shoppers happy. At Sullivan’s, Robert hopes his housekeeping duties help each person have a welcoming, enjoyable experience.
What does Robert enjoy most about working? “I like how work keeps me busy,” he says. When thinking about how he hopes to progress in his role, Robert wants to continue strengthening his current cleaning talents and build more responsibilities within housekeeping.
While working at Giant and Sullivan’s Robert interacts with a wide variety of people, keeping him in touch with his local community.
If you are ever searching for a job, Robert recommends applying for a housekeeping roll like him!
We are eager to see Robert continue balancing multiple jobs and can’t wait to see him move-up in his positions. Congratulations, Robert!
With 12 years of Special Education teaching under his belt, Mark Hauck began his career at KenCrest on August 2, 2021 as a Project SEARCH Instructor. He was attracted to the position because of the opportunity to work with an older population and help them achieve their employment goals.
Project SEARCH, which began as a single-site initiative in Cincinnati, OH, is now an international program designed to help young people with developmental disabilities to secure competitive employment.
“I’m really excited to be working with our Project SEARCH interns at Phoenixville Hospital this year,” said Mark. “It’s great to know that I’m having a direct impact on the vocations of young people and helping them to find meaningful work after they leave their internships. I can’t wait to see where their experiences take them.”
In his short time at KenCrest, Mark has been working on following curriculum as outlined in Project SEARCH, which has been in place for 25 years, so that he can teach young people the interpersonal and interactive skills they need to get a good job. Mark adds twists as he sees fit so that interns can get more or less of what they need, depending on their feedback. He’s also striving to get them to be a cohesive working unit.
“I’m so excited by direct contact with the interns,” said Mark. “They are so into the program. That type of enthusiasm is awesome…I would love to bottle it because it’s easier to maintain the program when students are excited. My hope is that they get hired after they graduate the program, either at the Phoenixville Hospital or with another employer.”
Mark is also enjoying his working relationships with his colleagues. He can’t say enough good things about his transition into this position at KenCrest.
“Everyone in the Employment department has been so welcoming,” Mark marveled. “Alli and Sharon helped to get me started…they’ve been so supportive, and Tyler and I have been collaborating and sharing ideas…it’s just been a great experience. This has been the best transition into a new role that I’ve ever had.”
By next June, the interns will have completed three rotations in different roles at Phoenixville Hospital, and Mark can’t wait to see the growth that occurs over the next several months. “To witness what will take place during KenCrest’s Project SEARCH program in 2021-2022 is going to be a real pleasure,” beamed Mark.
Project SEARCH Interns
Vinny graduated from Owen J. Roberts High Schools and is currently enrolled in Project SEARCH held at Phoenixville Hospital this year. Vinny currently works at Big Lots and as he learns new skills and grows within his role, he is most looking forward to getting a raise for his accomplishments and dedication.
Lily is part of this year’s Project SEARCH program located at Phoenixville Hospital. After graduating from Owen J. Roberts High School, Lily is eager to learn valuable job skills, work in the hospital setting, meet new people, and take on a variety of tasks of her choice.
Jake graduated from Phoenixville Area School District. He considers Project SEARCH as a stepping stone to help him earn a living and become more independent.
Zach graduated from Methacton High School before enrolling in this year’s Project SEARCH program. Ready to enter the workforce, Zach is most eager to experience what it is like to be in a job environment, along with the responsibilities and sense of community that comes with it.
Sherry graduated from Spring-Ford Area School District before taking advantage of the opportunities available through Project SEARCH. Working within an office space appeals to Sherry and she looks forward to finding a work environment she can thrive.
“I like to bring out the best in someone and help them take pride in their work,” says Annecy, KenCrest job coach since February 2017. Annecy interacts with a diverse group of people with disabilities who are seeking employment. A passion for helping those with disabilities, Annecy has vast experience serving the disability community, including direct care in day programs, quality care, and volunteer work.
“I enjoy making a difference and helping people reach their goals. Of course, I also like the interaction,” says Annecy.
Annecy works one-on-one with individuals to develop job skills, find job placement, assist throughout the hiring process, and provide proper job training. Annecy encourages each person to brainstorm out-of-the-box ways to receive job training based on how they learn, such as creating lists or utilizing apps on their phone. Annecy aims to bring out each of her clients’ skillsets in unique ways.
Being a job coach enables Annecy to collaborate with more than just those she supports, but community members. “Every day is a little bit different and I get to work in a lot of community settings. One day is Giant, the next day is a local restaurant.”
Annecy has helped to employ people at SunnyBrook Ballroom, LongHorn Steakhouse, and Plum Creek Creamery.
Thank you, Annecy, for your commitment to putting the people we support first, advocating for their employment success, and empowering neurodiversity!
For over a decade, Josh has worked at Speck’s Drive-In, a popular broasted chicken restaurant located in Collegeville, Pennsylvania. A small family-owned and operated business since 1953, Josh is truly part of the team and tight-knit dynamic.
Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, Josh was working five days a week. When the coronavirus struck, Josh made the choice to stay home full-time, before returning to his jobsite in April. Now, Josh works three days a week, allowing him to keep up with his responsibilities and maintain good health.
Josh’s work is fairly routine and includes cleaning the bathroom, kitchen, and parking lot.
“Josh is amazingly well-liked by staff and customers,” says Brian, Community Connection Coach at KenCrest for seven years. “Customers address him by name, talk to him, and tip him for his work. He is an appreciated member of the team.”
Congratulations, Josh, for being a respected and loyal employee to Speck’s Drive-In and for your hard work over the years!
With over 15 years of experience as a Job Developer, Job Coach, Employment Specialist, and self-proclaimed “Outreach Maven,” Bill Apter is a little over one month new to KenCrest as a Job Developer. Anyone who meets Bill for the first time will quickly see his passion for life, quick wit, love of professional wrestling (you can find out more about this on his Wikipedia page), and heart for helping people with disabilities.
“I’ve been in this industry for quite a while,” said Bill. “After a short gap in not doing employment work, I was told about this opening at KenCrest by a mutual friend. I jumped at the chance to get back into helping others with employment, and that’s how I landed here.”
Although he’s still fairly new to KenCrest, Bill’s days are already busy. He’s been meeting with fellow colleagues around the organization, calling people on his caseload, and setting up in-person meetings with the consumers he supports.
“I find that meeting people in person makes it easier to help them find a job,” said Bill. “After you get to know them, it starts the job development juices flowing.”
Bill loves that his work changes people’s lives in a positive way, and that the positivity extends to the lives of the family of each person receiving employment services. Regarding his work specifically at KenCrest, Bill has been impressed with what he’s seen and experienced so far.
“The Employment department at KenCrest is focused and dedicated to the consumer, and they are all around nice people,” remarked Bill. “I’m so happy to be part of the team.”
Tyler Macready has worked in the Employment department of KenCrest for 3.5 years. Initially hired as a Job Consultant, Tyler’s title is now Job Developer.
“When I first started at KenCrest, we were all Job Consultants—we all wore a variety of hats—doing everything from searching for jobs for people with disabilities to training them to coaching them through long-term consulting as long as they wanted it,” said Tyler. “Now, we’re more specialized, even though we pitch in wherever needed. As a Job Developer, I focus on helping people with disabilities find jobs.”
For the next 10 months, Tyler will work at the Phoenixville Hospital in Project SEARCH, a national program designed to prepare young people with disabilities to be successful in competitive integrated employment. Tyler has worked with GlaxoSmithKline in the past, but Phoenixville Hospital will be a new partner for him, and he’s looking forward to stepping into a new environment and meeting new people.
Tyler’s typical day revolves around case management—staying in touch with developing job opportunities, following up with employers, monitoring communication channels, going on interviews with people as a support, and developing career plans for prospective employment candidates.
“My passion is wanting to give people the fundamental tools to set them up for success in the future…to give them the skills that they can take with them to any job,” said Tyler. “Interacting with others, time management, knowing their responsibilities and getting them accomplished, seeking out other tasks if they finish early, and negotiating more hours if desired are all things that apply to every job. Those are the things I want to help others to learn.”