Thad McDonald, a former student of Crescent High School, graduated from the South Carolina Vocational Rehabilitation Department's Project Search program. The program is designed to allow students with disabilities to experience total immersion in the workplace with a goal of competitive employment in an integrated setting. The student's goal is to have completed three, 10-week internship rotations at AnMed Health's Main Campus. These are unpaid internships that allow students to gain a variety of transferable employability skills. In the mornings and afternoons, Thad spent an hour in the classroom/training room learning independent living and employability skills. Lessons in the classroom include information related to real-world employment about health and wellness, safety, team building, financial literacy, using technology, self-advocacy, preparing for employment, and maintaining employment.
Thad's first rotation was in the Food Service department at AnMed. He worked in the kitchen and learned how to operate an industrial dishwashing machine. He also assisted in preparing drinks at lunchtime that accompanied patient meals to their respective rooms in the hospital. Thad's second rotation was in the Environmental Services Department (EVS). Every morning, he sorted, folded, and put away cleaning cloths used by EVS technicians. This sounds simple, but every day, the EVS technicians use approximately 600 cloths that must be a wash, dried, folded, and put away. The remainder of the day, he worked alongside a floor tech who was responsible for keeping all of the sixth floor's common areas sanitized and in working condition. His third rotation was split between two departments. The first 5 weeks, he returned to the Food Service department and continued to work on skills from his first rotation. During this time, he also learned how to wash the industrial-sized pots and pans by hand, which is required. The second 5 weeks, he joined the Engineering department's landscaping maintenance crew. He was responsible for assisting in keeping the outside of AnMed Health's campus clean and aesthetically pleasing. He removed trash from the parking lot and outside garbage cans, planted trees, shrubbery, and flowers, spread mulch, and had lessons on driving the golf cart with his supervisor, Mary. Thad loves to be outdoors and reported that this was his favorite part of Project SEARCH.
By the end of the program, Thad gained a ton of workplace experience and was able to meet and interact with people throughout the hospital. Thad's experience in the project search will allow him to have an easy transition to the workforce.