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Project Search interns learn job skills at SCC in Sylva

STAFF REPORTS

Project Search interns Sylva NCSCC’s Project Search 2016 interns and staff include, front from left, Marzena Bradley, teacher; Lorie Burnett, job coach; interns Charlotte Hill, Lisa Skiver and Ned Baddy; Devonne Jimison, program coordinator. Back, interns Elliott Jacques and Thomas Smith; Mike Rogers, Webster Enterprises. Photo courtesy of SCC.

SYLVA - Project Search, a national nonprofit program that partners with businesses to create internships for young adults with disabilities, came to Jackson County three years ago in a partnership between Southwestern Community College and Harris Regional Hospital.

The program "allows men and women ages 18-30 with disabilities to gain marketable and transferable employability skills through the implementation of hands-on work experience during a series of three separate, 10-week intern-ships matched to their individual interests, strengths and abilities," according to a press statement.

“What I love about this program is that there is a lot of freedom in accepting a diverse group of young people,” said Devonne Jimison, SCC’s Project Search coordinator. “As teachers, job coaches and counselors, we focus on each person individually and embrace who they are on their specific journey.”

The program allows students with a vast range of disabilities to transition from school into a work environment.

“From the starting point, we help them identify their goals, we make a plan and we begin work on making their dreams come true,” Jimison said. “The basic dream for all of them is employment and giving back to their community.”

Jimison believes this program offers hope for parents and caregivers when they see how diverse the interns in the Project Search program are. The range this year is from a student with Down syndrome and a language barrier to a high-functioning student with autism, who also holds an additional job outside of the internship.

When asked what kind of impact this program has had on their lives, the in-terns beamed, happy to talk about what Project Search has done for them.

“This program helps you focus more on your abilities than your disabilities,” said Charlotte Hill, an intern from Whittier, whose future goals include being a chef.

“This program inspires people with disabilities and benefits us by helping us get a job in the community,” said Elliott Jacques, an intern from Sylva.

SCC’s partners in providing the program locally include Harris Regional Hospital, Vahyah Health (formerly known as Smoky Mountain Center), Vocational Rehabilitation and Webster Enterprises.

To learn more about about Project Search, contact Devonne Jimison at 828-339-4486 or devonnej@south-westerncc.edu.

SCC’s Project Search 2016 interns and staff include, front from left, Marzena Bradley, teacher; Lorie Burnett, job coach; interns Charlotte Hill, Lisa Skiver and Ned Baddy; Devonne Jimison, program coordinator. Back, interns Elliott Jacques and Thomas Smith; Mike Rogers, Webster Enterprises.

The original article was posted on Monday, November 14, 2016, 2016 in the Asheville Citizen-Times

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