The 2019-2020 Project SEARCH graduates were able to celebrate completion of the program through a drive-through ceremony at the Arc of North Carolina. Families in decorated cars stopped to hear a graduation speech and receive certificates.
Mission Health Project SEARCH is designed to help interns gain competitive employment by providing real-life work experience combined with employability and independent living skills training to help young people with intellectual or developmental disabilities make successful transitions to adult life. A-B Tech is a Project SEARCH partner along with The Arc of North Carolina, Vocational Rehabilitation, Vaya Health and the North Carolina Council on Developmental Disabilities.
The program consists of thee internships at Mission Hospital, classroom instruction through A-B Tech’s Transitional Studies and job coaching though The Art of North Carolina and Vocational Rehabilitation.
Graduate Sophia Cummings said, “Project SEARCH was awesome until the pandemic hit.” She is currently taking additional classes at A-B Tech in the Adult Education Foundations program.
Noah Britton admits he wasn’t too excited when he first heard about the program. “But when I went, I saw they’re doing some good things for me,” he said. “I was getting good co-workers and learning new work skills. The first internship was challenging because I had no idea what I was doing, but my supervisor worked with me to develop a pattern so I’d do things the same way each time. I learned persistence! I was also a leader, helping others in the class when they had problems.”
Since completing Project SEARCH, he has found employment at Home Depot where he works about 30 hours a week. He joked with his father, “Now I’m making more money than you are!”
Nicholas Hemachandra wants to work in the non-profit sector. “I want to work at the YMCA. I enjoyed the class with Tim (Blekicki).”
Cherise Lynn said , “It was sometimes more challenging than we thought it would be, but I learned a lot!”
Gerald Cranford said, “Project SEARCH was an awesome opportunity!” He has begun work at Mission Hospital in Environmental Services.
This year’s resilient 2020 graduates are:
- Noah Britton
- Gerald Cranford
- Sophia Cummings
- Nicholas Hemachandra
- Gabriella Kusz
- Cherise Lynn
- Tasha Mountjoy
- Megan Webb
Visit www.arcnc.org/project-search-asheville to learn more about the program and how to apply for the 2020-2021 cycle which will begin in September 2020. There you will find a full description of the program, eligibility requirements, videos and testimonials, and an application at the bottom of the page. Contact program director Tim Blekicki at 828-674-8957 or firstname.lastname@example.org.