For the Troy Daily News
TROY — The power of partnerships and mentoring were celebrated May 12 along with seven new graduates of the Upper Valley Project SEARCH program at Upper Valley Medical Center.
In its seventh year locally, Upper Valley Project SEARCH is a high school transition program designed to provide training and education on the road to employment for individuals with disabilities.
The goal of the nine-month program is to help each intern become “a more independent, and systematically competitively skilled person ready to compete in their community job market,” said Patti Moore, Upper Valley Project SEARCH coordinator.
She works in partnership with the interns, intervention specialists, job coaches, and work site supervisors at UVMC and Koester Pavilion.
Upper Valley Project SEARCH partners, in addition to UVMC, include the Upper Valley Career Center in Piqua, the Miami and Shelby counties Board of Developmental Disabilities, Opportunities for Ohioans with Disabilities, Capabilities Inc., and Koester Pavilion.
Each intern deferred receiving their high school diploma, went through an interview selection process and earned a position to participate in the program.
Matt Meyer, supervisor at the Upper Valley Career Center in Piqua, thanked administrators and staff at UVMC and Koester Pavilion for their participation in the program.
“What wonderful partners to be willing to open up their doors and have mentors to show these young adults how to take that very last step toward competitive employment,” Meyer said.
Terry Fry, UVMC chief nursing officer, congratulated the graduates and told them how much UVMC’s employees enjoy the partnership with Project SEARCH. “These students come every day, excited, energetic. Those who are mentoring love every minute of it,” Fry said.
Meyer cited statistics showing that more than 74 percent of those young people who have participated in the local Project SEARCH are competitively employed. “The alumni and these folks soon to be alumni will have independence for the rest of their lives,” Meyer said.
Each participant talked about their program experiences, their plans — several have jobs – and thanked mentors from departments where they interned.
The graduates and their high schools were: Brittany Meyer, Fort Loramie High School; Brittany Belt, Piqua High School; Ashley Lightle, Sidney High School; and Angela Hess, Cameron MacRitchie, Isaac Stull and Alan Williams, from Troy High School.
For more information on Project SEARCH, contact Patti Moore at (937) 440-7431.