Project SEARCH at Kinnic Health and Rehab!

Kassie, student employee

Meet Kassie! Many of you have probably noticed her smile brightening the dining room for the past several weeks. Kassie is a Project SEARCH intern and will be moving on to her next rotation on February 28th. Kassie is from Hager City, WI and graduated High School from Ellsworth, WI. She loves spending time with her family and pets, especially her new 5 month old puppy Gomez! Kassie hopes to have her next rotation at Courage Kenny.

She will be graduating from Project SEARCH on June 2nd, 2020 and hopes to attain a career working with animals. Interns are being screened now for rotation placement and here at Kinnic we will be seeing a new intern starting in March.

What is Project SEARCH?

Project SEARCH is a nine-month internship program for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities. It is targeted for individuals whose goal is competitive employment. The program takes place in a healthcare, government or business setting where total immersion in the workplace facilitates the teaching and learning process as well as the acquisition of employability and marketable work skills. Interns participate in three internships to explore a variety of career paths. The interns work with a team that includes their family, an instructor, and local and state agencies to create an employment goal.

In River Falls, Project SEARCH is based out of the River Falls Area Hospital (part of Allina Health) and is taught by River Falls School District employee Natasha Herum. Serving 8 individuals from River Falls and surrounding communities, we strive to build transferable job skills that will ultimately provide each intern with competitive employment opportunities. Our program is supported by 3 skills instructors (Greg Campus, Brittany Parker, and Nancy Weinreich) who are hired through BRIDGE for Community Life. BRIDGE also provides Project SEARCH with 2 employment coordinators (Jenny Ackatz and Dena DuCharme) who work to secure jobs for interns upon graduation of the program.

BENEFITS of the Project SEARCH Model:

Benefits to the Students:

  1. Participate in a variety of internships within the host hospital/business
  2. Acquire competitive, transferable and marketable job skills
  3. Gain increased independence, confidence, and self esteem
  4. Obtain work based individualized coaching, instruction and feedback
  5. Develop linkages to Vocational Rehabilitation and other adult service agencies

Benefits to the Business:

  1. Access to a new, diverse, talent stream with skills that match labor needs
  2. Interns and employees with disabilities who serve as role models for customers
  3. Access to a demographic of the economy with intense buying power: people with disabilities represent one of the fastest growing market segments in the United States
  4. Increased regional and national recognition through marketing of this unique program
  5. Increased performance and retention in high-turnover, entry-level positions

When asked what part about her time here at Kinnic she enjoyed the most, she smiled and stated, “doing laundry with Penny!”