Nonprofit View: McDaniel graduate program and Target Inc. work hand-in-hand

Target Community & Educational Services, Inc. (Target) is constructing two new homes in Carroll County. When they open in May, they will provide accessible housing for six ladies (three per home). The ladies are clients of our agency, but currently live in two-story homes that are not accessible and will not allow them to age in place. The new homes have extra wide hallways, roll-in showers, and other accommodations to meet the needs of our aging population.

Each home will be supervised by two graduate students (Community Living Managers) from McDaniel College who will live in a two-bedroom basement apartment during their two-year graduate program in Human Services Management. Several aides will provide supplemental staffing on a 24-hour basis.

The idea of having graduate students from McDaniel College complete this internship began at Target in 1983 when Dr. Don Rabush, professor of special education, partnered with a group of parents who had children with disabilities. These parents wanted two things: A program for their children that included house managers who wanted a career in the field, and a program that would control turnover. The two-year graduate program with McDaniel College was the solution to these two issues. While one manager graduates each May, a new manager moves into the home for his/her two-year program. In the ideal situation, only one of the two managers graduate each year, thus the second-year manager becomes a mentor and teacher for the new first-year manager.

During their two-year graduate and internship program, each of our students receive a 75 percent tuition scholarship from an endowment established at McDaniel College for this purpose. In addition, they receive a $22,000 annual graduate stipend, as well as health care benefits. And, of course, they receive a free apartment for two years while living in one of Target’s homes.

Target has a total of 22 graduate students at any given time. Most of them work in our homes, but others work in our Target Apartment Program in Gaithersburg. While the benefits are great, our interns work very hard and take on an enormous amount of responsibility. Upon graduation, agencies across the nation are eager to hire them. The leaders of several Maryland and Pennsylvania agencies are graduates of this program.

Maryland has approximately 3,500 adults with developmental disabilities on the waiting list for housing. It is unfortunate, because of financial restraints, that most agencies like ours are unable to add new homes to meet this urgent need.

Our Target homes account for 25 of the 300 children and adults we serve across a spectrum of programs. These programs include vocational and rehabilitation services, an autism program, a personal supports program, and other programs where we partner with the Carroll County Public Schools, Carroll Community College and our sister agencies in Carroll County.

For more information about our programs or a tour of our new homes, please call 410-848-9090 and ask for me. I would be happy to give you, your family, or your group a tour.

Tom Zirpoli is the CEO of Target Community & Educational Services Inc. He is also a regular Carroll County Times columnist, whose column appears Wednesdays, and program coordinator of the human services management graduate program at McDaniel College.

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Each Monday, the Carroll County Times will publish a column from a local nonprofit, allowing them to share information about their organization and the issues facing it. To be considered, email cctnews@carrollcountytimes.com with the subject line "Nonprofit View."

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