Project SEARCH helps people with disabilities get jobs

BETTENDORF, Iowa-- It's just another day on the job for Nick Moore as he makes sure each room in the emergency department is stocked and ready at UnityPoint Health Trinity.

Meanwhile upstairs Morgan Beaver spends her morning making sure the hospital gift shop is in tip top shape.

These two are working hard, but they aren't employees yet. They're interns through a program called Project SEARCH.

"Project SEARCH is a work site based education program for students with disabilities," says instructor Stacie Kintigh.

It's a year long internship program for high school graduates with disabilities. The goal is to give these people real world work experience that will translate into a full time job.

"It's professionalism, it's realism, and they are in the moment. And that's real, and I can't make that realism happen in the classroom," says Kintigh.

Everyday, interns show up and work in different departments in this Bettendorf hospital.

"Other people think that since we have disabilities that we aren't capable of doing other things everyone else can do, but that's not true at all. We can all do anything we want if we put our minds to it," says Project SEARCH intern Sydney Moore.

The program is the first of its kind in the Quad Cities, but it's been around for more than 20 years throughout the country. More than 80-percent of participants leave the program with a full-time job that pays more than minimum wage with opportunities for promotion.