DWD, Aspirus Riverview, celebrate Project SEARCH grads
The Project SEARCH site at Aspirus Riverview Hospital hosted a graduation ceremony Wednesday, May 24, at McMillan Memorial Library in Wisconsin Rapids. Submitted photo
For City Times
WISCONSIN RAPIDS – Jasmine Pierce lives by the saying, “Never give up no matter how big the mountains are.” Pierce, a student at Port Edwards High School, stayed true to her favorite quote and with the skills she learned through Project SEARCH. She was the first intern to accept a full-time job at Aspirus Riverview Hospital in Wisconsin Rapids.
The goal of Project SEARCH is to prepare young adults with disabilities for rewarding careers.
Pierce spent her time in the program learning new skills at work rotations in the hospital’s kitchen and surgical services. Following graduation from the program, she will apply those skills as a dietary aide.
“The Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development is excited to celebrate nearly 200 Project SEARCH graduates throughout the state, who pushed themselves to explore new opportunities, developed additional life skills, and are proud of the rewarding work they have done the past nine months,” said DWD Secretary-designee Amy Pechacek. “In Wisconsin, more employers are tapping the state’s diverse talent pool. Successful programs like Project SEARCH reaffirm that workers with disabilities can bring tremendous skills and talents to any employer’s workforce.”
The graduation ceremony at McMillan Memorial Library May 24 marked the completion of a nine- to-12-month immersive work experience. The six interns recounted their hands-on experiences and talked about their future career opportunities.
In addition to the host site, the local internship experience was made possible by partners including the DWD’s Division of Vocational Rehabilitation, Wisconsin Rapids School District, Opportunity Development Center, Inclusa, Inc. Lakeland Care, IRIS, and TMG Wisconsin. Statewide, 28 premier employers are participating in Project SEARCH this year.
DWD’s Division of Vocational Rehabilitation oversees Project SEARCH statewide and has supported the program with funding, coordination and technical assistance. The state division also provides vocational counseling and support to program participants.
Project SEARCH is a collaborative effort among state vocational rehabilitation agencies, area schools, local employers, and long-term care organizations to help interns acquire marketable, competitive, and transferable skills that lead to employment. The interns complete multiple 10-week rotations to maximize exposure to different career paths and learn employability skills in a classroom and hands-on job skills within the business environment.
Started at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center in 1996, Project SEARCH has provided workforce training to approximately 1,500 Wisconsin residents since its statewide launch in 2008.