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Changing Lives Through Project SEARCH

Posted by Christine Schulz on March 2, 2016

Terra a Goodwill Project SEARCH intern working at the Milwaukee County ZooI always enjoy my time at the Milwaukee County Zoo, as it’s a Milwaukee community treasure. What I enjoy even more about the Zoo now are the Project SEARCH tours I’ve conducted over the past month. The Zoo is a host site for Project SEARCH; an innovative, business-driven, transition program for young adults with disabilities. Currently 12 young adults with disabilities are participating in this internship program that provides work and training opportunities.

I had been very fortunate to meet all of the interns when they first started the program in September 2015. Now, they are halfway through the program and finishing up their second internship rotations. Every time that I conduct a tour or attend a meeting at the Zoo and see all of the interns, I am impressed with the level of independence, self-esteem, confidence, and professionalism that they have developed in a relatively short period of time. Project SEARCH has truly been changing the lives of the young adults who are participating. Additionally, each one of them has also had an impact on me in their own, unique way. So in my first blog, I’d like to tell you a little bit about our intern Terra.

Terra, who completed her first rotation in the Zoological Society, and is now completing her second rotation in the Small Mammal Building has developed her confidence in public speaking. When I first met her, she was very quiet. During a recent tour, Terra spoke to a group with such confidence. She shared how she was learnTerra a Goodwill Project SEARCH intern learning skills at the Milwaukee County Zooing how to answer phones at the Zoological Society and was asking questions of her coworkers and managers. It was amazing!

An important part of the curriculum within Project SEARCH is a focus on presentation skills. Terra and the other interns have each created a PowerPoint presentation about their experience in Project SEARCH and have been practicing presenting.

Recently, Terra has volunteered to join me at Manpower to present to a group of managers interested in hiring individuals from the program, where she will share details about her experience in Project SEARCH. I’m just so proud of her accomplishments!

Personally, I have enjoyed everything about the Project SEARCH program. It has been a solid and collaborative partnership. The interns and their families have shared many wonderful success stories with me on how the interns have developed independence and skills that will be necessary as they begin looking for a job in the community. So I have many more stories to share with you. Be sure to check back to learn about King in my next blog!

Written by Christine Schulz

Christine Schulz is Manager of Supported Employment and Community Access and also oversees the Project SEARCH site at the Milwaukee County Zoo. Christine and her teams are motivated to help individuals with disabilities prepare for, obtain and retain community jobs. Each day, Christine sees transformative change within our communities as more employers see the value that individuals with disabilities can bring to their workforce. Being a part of making this happen is what inspires her to give her all each and every day to her team and the work that they do together. Christine has been with Goodwill for 5 years since November of 2010.

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