'Farmer's market' at MMI supports transitional services

by John Keenan, UNMC public relations | August 04, 2017

Image with caption: MMI staff, including interpreter Ann Goering, center, turned out to support the event.

MMI staff, including interpreter Ann Goering, center, turned out to support the event.

The Munroe-Meyer Institute held its first "farmer's market" last month.

The market, a small event that was held outside of the northwest corner of the MMI building, was an effort to diversify funding for MMI's vocational training programs.

It also met a goal for a MMI grant project awarded by the Nebraska Planning Council on Developmental Disabilities.

Students from the training programs, including UNMC/Nebraska Medicine Project SEARCH, helped to stock items and practice their cash-handling skills. Project SEARCH is an international prevocational training program, which was initiated on campus in 2015. MMI houses the program throughout the academic year. Project SEARCH was initiated on campus to create internship opportunities for individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities to gain knowledge and skills necessary for competitive employment with UNMC, Nebraska Medicine or in the community.

One of the UNMC/Nebraska Medicine Project SEARCH partners, Madonna School, had its clients in adult employment services create items to sell at the market. They also had their Madonna specialty coffee for sale.

"We're teaching transition age students and adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities a variety of job skills in a fun learning environment," said Tara Harper, MMI transition and employment services program manager. "This summer, we taught students the importance of repurposing and recycling goods. They took wood pallets and turned them into herb window boxes. Mason jars were decorated to hold office supplies and decorative flowers."

The market also included some produce and animal rescue awareness merchandise for sale.

All of the proceeds from the sale went to support MMI's transition and adult employment services programs. The small event drew a supportive crowd of MMI staff and families to shop.

"This is only the beginning of something wonderful," Harper said. "Hopefully, we can continue to hold farmer's markets throughout the summer next year."

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