ODC and Aspirus Wausau Hospital hosted their very first “information night” for those interested in our newest Project SEARCH program, slated to begin at the hospital with the start of the 2018–2019 school year. Over 40 individuals attended, including school personnel, potential participants and their families.
Project SEARCH is an international school-to-work transition program for students with disabilities. Students selected for the Wausau program will spend their entire school year participating in classroom study and work internships at Aspirus Wausau Hospital; school districts partnering in the program include DC Everest, Merrill Area, Mosinee and Wausau as well as Marathon County Special Education.
Everyone in attendance at the informational meeting agreed that the most impactful portion of the evening was information shared by John (pictured) and his supervisors, Cheryl and Pam. After John completed a Project SEARCH program in Iowa, he moved back to the Wausau area and applied for a position at Aspirus Wausau Hospital, where he is now working full-time as an Environmental Services Aide. John explained that he is very passionate about his job and although he “cleans toilets”, his job isn’t about the paycheck or the cleaning… it’s about the patients.
John then shared a story about a patient with whom he had made a real connection while cleaning the man’s room. The man had no family members to support him, and he was not expected to live. John was asked by Aspirus staff if he would be willing to share the man’s last moments with him, as they had become friends… and John agreed. He was able to be with the patients and hold his hand while the man took his last breath.
What an amazing spokesperson for an equally amazing program.