KenCrest Helps People With An IDD Find Their Dream Careers

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KenCrest’s Employment Program connects individuals to their dream Careers while gaining independence, stability, and on-site job training.

By Sydney Kerelo


“As long as you have a desire and a willingness to work, you can do anything,” says Linda Sopp, KenCrest’s Benefits Counselor.

Whether a person has an intellectual disability, developmental disability, or neither, everybody has skills, strengths, and weaknesses that allow them to be successful in the workplace. Anyone can be successful if they achieve their desired goals, and KenCrest helps the people we support to do just that through our Employment Program.

“KenCrest’s Employment Program provides on-the-job support for adults with disabilities,” says Sharon Skirkie, an Employment Supervisor. “We help them with their resumes, interviewing, and finding a place of employment that interests them.”

Those interests may revolve around the traditional workplace, such as a supermarket or a local YMCA, or they go down the nontraditional path; self-employment.

As part of the Employment Program, self-employment helps people carve out a job from their hobbies or interests that work towards their strengths. These jobs can be jewelry making, woodworking, or even baking.

Lula, a KenCrest resident, started her own baking business, making different kinds of cookies for local festivals and events. She had her own table at our Masters’ event in May, one of the most popular booths there. She is still in the early stages but is working on making it a livable business.

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Lula sharing her cookies with the guests at the 2022 Masters event at RiverCrest. // Photo by Aubrey Hoffert

Isaiah is another self-employed worker at KenCrest at the beginning of his career as an artist. He is still working with the Employment program to find ways to commission his artwork but is highly determined to be successful.

“We try our best not to fit those we support into a box,” adds Skirkie. “We especially try to be more creative and find employment that interests our people and meets their needs.”

Outside of self-employment, many of those we support find employment at Pennsylvania businesses like Elmwood Park Zoo, Camilla Hall, Liberty Thrift, YMCA, Texas Roadhouse, Sunnybrook Ballroom, and Normandy Farms.


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“We have a lot of talented and skilled individuals that are dedicated and passionate to their work,” says Skirkie. “In every business and organization, there are tasks that are not being completed or done efficiently, and that’s where KenCrest comes in. We have various applicants with skills that can add proficiency and efficiency into the workplace.”

In addition to helping the people we support discover their dream careers, the Employment Program provides resources and teachings that help prepare them for the working world.

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KenCrest’s Benefits Counseling program, Ticket to Work, and Project SEARCH teaches adults with disabilities (including young adults transitioning from school to career) about their Social Security benefits, interview practices, and on-site job training.

“A lot of the time, we teach them soft skills like introducing themselves, speaking up, or even teaching them how to ask for help,” says Skirkie. “They may need help learning or relearning tasks and expanding their skill set.”

While helping people with I/DD, the Employment program also receives referrals from the Pennsylvania Office of Vocational Rehabilitation (OVR) for people with mental health diagnoses, including depression or anxiety, to help them become independent once again.

The Employment program doesn’t just help people gain employment but a way of living as independently as possible.

“To become independent, a person needs to maximize their abilities,” says Sopp. “Whether that’s getting them back into the workforce or finding out what they can do, each person in our employment program realizes that they can do anything; there are many different community services to support you.”