Project SEARCH Graduation a Joyous Event
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Project SEARCH Graduation a Joyous Event

The following is a special needs program update from Chapel Haven. You may also click here to read the original article on the program’s website.

Eight Project SEARCH interns from Chapel Haven were lauded at a joyous graduation ceremony June 19 at Yale-New Haven Hospital, thronged by hospital supervisors, Chapel Haven staff and proud, beaming parents.

“I remember when you started,” said Lynelle Bel, Director of Volunteer Services at YNHH. “There were lots of nervous faces, concerns about ‘how are we going to learn this new job and navigate this big medical center.’ But you did it. You have become really important members of our health care team.”

Congratulations to:

  • Jolysa Anthony
  • Heather Chisholm
  • Marcus Hammel
  • Tim Heydenburg
  • Laurel Marietta
  • Maria Rivera
  • Rachael Warden
  • Kerry Wilson

To see a photo album, click here

    Chapel Haven is celebrating the second year of a fruitful partnership with Yale-New Haven Hospital through the nationally renowned Project SEARCH. Individuals from various Chapel Haven programs independently travel to Yale New Haven Hospital five days a week where they participate in vocationally-oriented classroom instruction followed by a 5-hour-a-day internship in one of many hospital departments. Interns become essential parts of hospital departments such as Chemistry Lab, Pharmacy, Interpreter Services, Patient Transport, and Central Sterile Supply, just to name a few.

    At the graduation ceremony, it was clear that hospital employees have bonded with Chapel Haven’s eager interns.

    Meeok Chan, Manager of the YNHH Specimen Processing Laboratory Medicine, described a busy department in which staff are processing up to 8,000 specimen lab samples a day. She said when the program first started, “I was not sure how students would integrate with staff and workflow.” Now, she said she is going to promote the Project SEARCH model everywhere she goes.

    “By working in our lab, (Chapel Haven interns) learned to interact with our staff. We have good days and bad days but they meld right in.” Meeok said she was especially happy when she heard giggling – a good sign that interns were getting comfortable.

    “We hope they leave with some experiences that might carry them on in their future endeavors,” she said.

    “I am so happy to officially say, after nine months, you guys did it,” said Kimberly Freeman, part of the Chapel Haven Project SEARCH staff. “You are ready to leave the nest. I am so proud of the personal growth and skill development I’ve seen in each of you.”

    Elizabeth Locke, YNHH Volunteer Program Coordinator, also gave thanks to the 11 hospital departments who work day-to-day to the interns.

    Donald Dimenstein, a Chapel Haven board member and YNHH Vice President of System Compensation and Benefits, who was instrumental in helping start Project SEARCH with Chapel Haven, said the experience of interning for a year brings many benefits.

    “The work is often hard but the rewards are many,” he said. “There’s a new sense of satisfaction that comes with being part of a work team. With a deep sense of pride, I want to commend all of you for accepting the many challenges.”

    Through Project SEARCH, Chapel Haven interns rotate through three different internships. Interns are placed in Specimen Processing, Material Services-Stores, Central Sterile Supply, Operating Room Supply, Daycare, the Material Services Mailroom, the livingwell Fitness Center, and the Atrium Café.  The interns interviewed to gain these placements, experienced a mid-internship evaluation, and also participated in exit interviews. They were able to build portfolios that include references and letters of recommendations for future job applications.

    Also, the interns have the chance to work with Chapel Haven’s new Business Advisory Council.  The BAC is comprised of volunteers from the business community who offer their time to give realistic feedback on their progress and help the interns find jobs as they graduate.  According to Kristine Fornaby, Coordinator of Project SEARCH, “We meet several times per year so that they can get to know the interns and help them shape their vocational goals.  At the January meeting, each intern had a chance to interview with each BAC member in a ‘speed interviewing’ event.  Their feedback and evaluations told us that we are on the right track!  At our May BAC meeting, the students presented their portfolios, which contain their long term vocational objectives, resumes, photos of them at work, and any letters of recommendation that have been collected.  Most of the interns have applied for services through the Bureau of Rehabilitation Services (BRS) and all are eager to find employment. “