School is ending and students from the area are graduating. Entering the job market is a expected next step in this coming-of-age chain of events.  But what about those with disabilities? A special group of students have been working with the Lakeview Center and in area hospitals as part of a program to educate and train students with disabilities for transition into the workforce.



An end-of-year celebration was held May 30 at the Andrews Institute for Orthopaedics and Sports Medicine to recognize the accomplishments of six young adults who completed “Project Search."



A service of Lakeview Center, Project Search combines classroom instruction with work experience to equip its students with competitive, transferable and marketable skills. Aimed at people 18 to 22 years old, the program has sites at Gulf Breeze Hospital, University of West Florida and Baptist Hospital.



The program has been influential in helping people overcome life's challenges, according to Karen Smith of the Lakeview Center. "Project Search" began in 2007 in the Pensacola area and expanded to Gulf Breeze Hospital in 2008.



"In health care, we serve people with disabilities," Smith said. "The nature of people that go into health care, they're more apt to be more accepting of those with disabilities."



The Lakeview Center has been working with people with disabilities for more than two decades says Smith. In Florida, those with disabilities can attend public schools until the age of 22. The Lakeview Center works very closely with the Santa Rosa County School Board with "Project Search." 



At the Gulf Breeze site, the students were provided opportunities to serve rotations or “internships” in areas such as medical support, food service, materials management, environmental services, customer service and clerical support at the hospital and the nearby Andrews Institute.



The goal of Project Search is for each intern to gain competitive employment. The program’s staff helps the interns to find jobs based their skills, interests and aptitude.



James Bault is the first of this year’s graduates to be employed. Hired as a grill operator at Waffle House, Bault already has received kudos from his manager, who complimented him on his initiative.



Seeking employment are:



•               Yvonne Berry is an independent worker who has good organizational skills. She completed rotations in food services, medical services and the Andrews Institute Surgical Center. Although Berry soon will be leaving the area, she hopes to find work doing data entry in an office setting.



•               Nick Delgado is a determined worker with excellent communication skills. He spent most of the year greeting and directing guests at Gulf Breeze Hospital and the Andrews Institute. Delgado is interested in a customer service position within a sports environment in the Gulf Breeze area.



•               Kyle McCabe is a resourceful worker who has excellent problem solving skills. McCabe is good at filing and great on a computer. He completed rotations in the hospital’s medical services, materials management, medical records and emergency departments as well as the Andrews Institute Surgical Center. McCabe is looking for work in a retail or customer service setting in either Navarre or Gulf Breeze.



•               Dylan Moring is a diligent worker and quick learner who pays close attention to detail. He completed rotations in environmental services, medical records, materials management and the Andrews Institute Surgical Center. Moring would like a job in stocking, cleaning or office work in the Pace, Milton or Pensacola areas.



•               Jeff Shell is a great communicator who is exceptionally well mannered and good with directions. He worked in the hospital’s radiology, outpatient registration and front desk areas, greeting, directing and escorting patients and guests. Shell is a detailed cleaner and can prepare and chart paperwork. He would like a job in a medical or customer service setting in Gulf Breeze or Pensacola Beach.



Sandy Hernandez, director of environmental and comprehensive services at Baptist Hospital, has hired Project Search graduates.  “If your business is anything like mine, you need dedicated and positive team members who also display a sense of ownership,” he said. “Project Search has successfully provided me with just such individuals.”



"Project Search" is a program that spans the academic school year, according to Lakeview representatives. The program has eight students in Baptist Hospital in Pensacola and another six at the University of West Florida. 



To learn more about Project Search, contact Kathryn Howard, the employment specialist for the program’s site at Gulf Breeze Hospital. She can be reached at 934-2007 or Kathryn.Howard@bhcpns.org.