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Project SEARCH Kicks off at UVMC

Project Search photo
Project SEARCH was introduced to the area July 22 with a tea at the first host site, the Upper Valley Medical Center. Among those involved in the workforce training program are front row (left to right): Interns Justin Grogg, Katherine Smith, D.J. Gayhart. Back row: Angel Johnson and Robin Fisher of UVMC and Patti Moore of Upper Valley JVS. Not available for photo was the fourth intern, Nathen McConnahea.
Project SEARCH has arrived in Miami and Shelby counties as four Upper Valley JVS continuing students prepare to begin internships on the Upper Valley Medical Center campus.

UVMC welcomed the initial Project SEARCH class – Justin Grogg and Katherine Smith of Troy, D.J. Gayhart of Piqua and Nathen McConnahea of Sidney – during a tea held July 22 at the hospital.

Project SEARCH is a high school transition program designed to provide training and education on the road to employment for individuals with disabilities. It was launched in Cincinnati, Ohio, in 1996 and is spreading throughout cities nationwide.

Local Project SEARCH partners, in addition to UVMC, currently include the Upper Valley JVS in Piqua, the Board of Developmental Disabilities in Miami and Shelby counties, and the state Bureau of Vocational Rehabilitation.

Michael J. Maiberger, UVMC president and chief executive officer, said the hospital is pleased to be able to host the Project SEARCH program’s first class of local participants. “By providing this real-life working environment, we can help prepare young people for the workforce in the communities we serve,” he said.  “Supporting valuable partnerships such as this is an important part of our community benefit mission.” 

Upper Valley JVS believes strongly that all students can benefit from training that will enable them to be contributing members of the workforce, Dr. Nancy Luce, JVS Superintendent, said.

“We are pleased that Upper Valley Medical Center and our other partners are joining us in this exciting new opportunity and appreciate UVMC serving as the initial site for the Project Search program," she said.

Patti Moore, JVS Project SEARCH coordinator, will work with the four interns, job coaches and work site supervisors at UVMC. The goal of the nine-month program is to help each of the interns become “a more independent person” and ready to compete in the job market, Moore said.  She emphasized that the four are not actual employees, but are “strictly students in training.”

The interns begin their experience Aug. 23 by participating in UVMC employee orientation. Their initial work experience will come through the nutrition, rehabilitation, home health and environmental services departments.

Angel Johnson, UVMC Employment Coordinator; and Robin Fisher, UVMC Volunteer Services Manager, are serving as UVMC’s business liaisons for Project SEARCH.