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WESTMINSTER - TARGET Inc., a community residential-care program affiliated with the graduate education program for human service professionals at Western Maryland College, has been selected as a finalist in the 1990 Search for Excellence.

Search for Excellence, in its fifth year, is conducted by the J. M.

Foundation of New York.

The annual program recognizes the nation's "finest vocational programs" serving people with disabilities.

The Search for Excellence is honoring TARGET for its work in the category of Facility-Based Employability Development. Programs in this category provide a variety of services in rehabilitation facility settings that enable participants to prepare for and obtain competitive employment.

Other categories in the program include Community-Based Employability Development, Community-Based Work Services, and Independent Living Centers.

The TARGET program ranks among "the nation's best programs in terms of their effectiveness, efficiency and measurable benefits to the people they serve," said Jeremiah Milbank Jr., president of the J. M. Foundation.

This year's first-place award will be presented to Goodwill Industries of South Florida. The other finalist in TARGET's category is the South Carolina Vocational Rehabilitation Department of the Strom Thurmond Vocational Rehabilitation Center.

The award-winning program is a cooperative endeavor of the Job Training Partnership Act of Carroll County and TARGET, which operates out of the Winchester Country Inn, a restored historic bed-and-breakfast inn in the city.

This project, which features on-site vocational training for developmentally disabled people, has provided the community with more than 60 fully trained employees. Five clients are trained in 12-week cycles by Estelle Williams, the executive innkeeper, and supported on the job by Joyce Dell, the transition work counselor. This is one facet of TARGET's vocational program, which is supervised by Matt Jackson Classes of 1987 and 1989.

TARGET, founded in 1983 by Donald Rabush, WMC professor of education and president/CEO of the program, is an acronym for Training And Research, Group homes, Education with the developmentally disabled. Its mission is to create environments that support and encourage persons with developmental disabilities to achieve normalized residential, recreational and vocational participation in society.

Under the auspices of the state Mental Retardation Administration, the non-profit TARGET currently provides seven community residences for 20 developmentally disabled people who have been deinstitutionalized.

Supervised counselors in each of these group homes participate in the WMC graduate program in human services and case management.

The group homes function as a "living laboratory" for the program, by providing on-the-job training as well as research opportunities for housing, staffing, funding and operation. They also create an educational vehicle for community support of developmentally disabled clients through alternative models of service delivery.

Counselors working in these settings are supervised by A. Norman Dahl III, Classes of 1987 and 1989, and Steven LeGacy, Class of 1990, both graduates of the master of science program. The majority of these counselors have gone on to positions in the human services profession after receiving their master's degrees from WMC.

A special celebration honoring all J. M. Foundation Search for Excellence award-winners and finalists will be conducted at 11:30 a.m.

tomorrow at the Mayflower Hotel in Washington, D.C.

Louis Sullivan, secretary of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, will join Milbank and other distinguished guests in presenting these awards. Rabush will represent TARGET at this ceremony.

"The real benefit of this awards program is the publicity and education of the public about the unique kinds of programs serving disabled people," said Rabush. "I hope this recognition sparks the imagination of other individuals to take the idea, re-create it and move forward.

"(TARGET's) project is one where everyone wins."

The J. M. Foundation is a private, grant-making organization with a history of providing grants to vocational and other rehabilitation programs serving individuals with disabilities. The Search for Excellence program is guided by an advisory committee of representatives from 14 major private and government organizations serving people with disabling conditions.

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