While many people are just waking up to have their first cup of coffee, Project SEARCH interns are already well into their days. Their mornings begin before 6 a.m. because many of them rely on RTS buses to take them to and from their job site, Strong Memorial Hospital.
When they walk in the doors of the hospital they’re not students, they don’t have a teacher and they don’t report to a classroom. They are interns who are headed to check in with their job coach in their training room. This environment fosters the exact type of independence that Project SEARCH interns come to learn. Among those interns are Noah Kaforey (Hilton), Joanna Taylor (Spencerport) and Jimmy Tran (Spencerport).
“I’m an adult now, so I have to be responsible and mature.” said Taylor. “Project SEARCH is helping me work towards a job, not just working. It’s training me for a real job in the real world. I am learning not only how to get a job, but how to keep a job.”
Taylor and others are well on their way. Right now, they are all in their second of three internships at Strong. Some of those internships involve opportunities that interns have never had before. Taylor is working in the hospital gift shop, a job that’s not been available to interns for many years. Tran’s job is a porter within Food and Nutrition Services. His attention to detail impressed his supervisors so much that they promoted him to a job with more responsibility. Meanwhile, Kaforey is forging new ground in the Environmental Services department. He is responsible for filing, alphabetizing and organizing important hospital documents.
“Project SEARCH helps me to learn more skills and be independent,” said Kaforey. “I would like to work in a library when I am done with Project SEARCH™. I also like to stock items.”
“I like learning how to work hard and trying new jobs,” Tran said. “I would like to work in security someday. I am able to do a lot of jobs by myself now.”
The 20+ hours that they spend working each week are instrumental to the hospital’s day-to-day operations. Employees of the hospital consider the interns as part of the team. One of their biggest advocates is Chris Lapple, a trainer in the Environmental Services department, who has worked with interns in Project SEARCH for several years.
“The interns that we work with are hard-working and dedicated to learning the skills they will need for the future,” said Lapple. “Strong Memorial Hospital is dedicated to offering a safe and clean hospital environment for all patients and visitors, so interns that work with us have the potential to save lives every day.”
The interns are so passionate about their work at the hospital, that they even took time to attend a recent information night about the program. They spoke to prospective interns about the benefits of the program, including how the skills they are learning will help them gain employment in the future.
“We have been happy to hire a few Project SEARCH interns, and look forward to continuing our partnership with them,” Lapple said.
Project SEARCH is nationally-recognized high school transition program. In our area, it is a partnership between Monroe 2-Orleans BOCES, the University of Rochester Medical Center and ARC of Monroe. Applications are currently being accepted for the 2018-19 school year. For more information, contact Nicole Littlewood at (585) 617-2439 or firstname.lastname@example.org.