Published on June 5th, 2019 | by Millennium Magazine Staff


Students Honored in Graduation Ceremony at Providence Health-Northeast


COLUMBIA, SC –Securing employment can be a challenge for any young adult. It can be even more difficult for those with disabilities. Thanks to Project SEARCH, a national program that partners with local businesses to provide on-the-job learning opportunities for young adults with disabilities, six students from Richland School District Two can now look forward to a brighter future.

Project SEARCH introduces young adults with disabilities to work-place experiences by providing a year of on-site job training, accompanied by soft-skill educational sessions such as self-advocacy, professional expectations, responsibility and accountability, and effective communication with supervisors and co-workers.

The program at Providence Health-Northeast campus rotated interns through internships focusing on skill sets related to dietary, environmental services, surgical services, IT, materials management, and the Emergency Room. All positions and tasks performed by interns were designed to ensure that the young adults can achieve success and provide valuable assistance in a way that was safe for the students, staff, and patients.

“These six individuals and the tasks they performed each day helped us to meet the high demands of the fast-paced community hospital that we are,” said Market Chief Operating Officer Joe Bernard. “They truly were a valued part of our Providence team.”

During the graduation program, students held cards describing how they felt before the program and then after completion. Cards changed from “Unsure” to “Brave” and from “Shy” to Confident.”

“It’s a blessing to be able to see these individuals who may have felt like someone who needed additional care become someone helping to take care of others,” said Human Resources Director Jill Anelli. “They transformed into young professionals here.”

Project SEARCH worked closely with Richland School District Two to identify and implement the year-long program for eligible school students. More than simply prepare the students with additional skills for living, the program also forges connections with employers through the involvement of South Carolina’s Departments of Vocational Rehabilitation and Disabilities and Special Needs.

Approximately, 75% of Project SEARCH students find competitive employment within a year after the program, giving the gift of a more independent life to its participants. A few of the interns from Providence Health’s program had already been offered opportunities with local employers prior to graduation.

“Through Project SEARCH, our interns have been given then the opportunity to learn skills that will open doors for employment,” said Project SEARCH Coordinator Sarah Park. “With the confidence to showcase their skills and demonstrate their abilities, they are now prepared to enter the workforce as qualified employees.”

The graduates were joined by family and community leaders for a reception that followed the event. They also received signed certificates from Governor Henry McMaster honoring their accomplishments.

For more information about Project SEARCH, visit:

About Providence Health:

About Providence Health: Founded in 1938 by the Sisters of Charity of St. Augustine and continuing today as a Catholic healthcare system, Providence Health is a full-service healthcare system serving the Midlands of South Carolina. A part of LifePoint Health, Providence consists of two hospitals, a freestanding emergency room, and multiple physician practices, rehabilitation centers, sleep centers, imaging and diagnostics labs, and other services. Providence Health’s downtown Columbia hospital specializes in high acuity care, while its Northeast Columbia campus recently transitioned from a specialty facility to a full-service community hospital. Providence employs more than 1,600 dedicated staff. For more information, visit

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