Project SEARCH Student Finds Employment
Project SEARCH is a national transition to work model for high school seniors with disabilities. The program is for 18-22-year-olds who plan on gaining competitive employment after school. Project SEARCH affords them the opportunity to gain genuine work experience through several unpaid internship settings, while creating a core group of resources to build upon that experience, and a forward-looking team that develops job opportunities during and after the program. In 2006, Skils’kin was selected as the only supported employment agency to partner with Providence Sacred Heart Medical Center and serve as a single point of entry for jobs at the medical center.
Bechalynn Scharff is a student who joined the Spokane Project SEARCH in the fall semester of her 2018 school year as she prepares to graduate. Within a cohort of eleven other students, she began to experience the power of Project SEARCH. Along with daily class time, Bechalynn was placed into six-weeklong internships. Her first placement was with Providence Facilities crew, gaining grounds and landscaping skills first hand. Her second internship was with Providence Dining Services, practicing her ability to weigh, measure, and follow multi-step instructions regarding specific dietary needs. Along with all of this experience, one of the most important features of the program is the daily class time and the ability to reflect and share experiences through the cohort of peers. Understanding the struggles and successes of each individual makes for a deeper meaning of everyone’s experience and uncovers more of what holding a job looks like quickly. For Bechalynn, it was through this feedback she was able to equip herself for work so effectively. Aaron Kagan, the Spokane Project SEARCH Lead Teacher, noticed Bechalynn had a vocational mind. He said during her internships “she was ready to make a fix when it was brought to her attention. Her problem solving was sequential, and the hospital recognized that and knew they could teach her anything.” Through her immersion in the hospital setting and outstanding performance, the Providence Hospital recognized her employability and offered her a permanent, part-time, paid position on their Central Warehouse crew. In this position she will be filling orders from different floors and delivering them around the hospital, acting as a reliable stream of supplies for nurses and doctors.
Bechalynn’s exceptional and professional attitude, her aptitude to learn and adapt to a variety of tasks, and her understanding and willingness to make tomorrow better than today is what makes her so employable, and through Project SEARCH she was able to manifest these traits. This program offers a deep commitment to the institution of work, and Skils’kin is honored to provide a piece of their support through our dedication to employment for all.