Kansas City,
08:16 AM

Ava joins Children's Mercy team after internship through Project SEARCH

Ava A

When Ava Anderson’s internship with Children’s Mercy ended, she didn’t want to leave the hospital, and the Supply Chain Distribution department didn’t want to lose Ava.

Fortunately, both Ava and the hospital were able to attain an outcome they desired when Ava was hired full-time as a Materials Management Technician.

The story began earlier this year when Keith Riley, Manager-Distribution Operations in Supply Chain, and the Distribution department team worked with the Health Sciences District Project SEARCH to provide internships for two student-interns. Project SEARCH, under the umbrella of Project RISE at Children’s Mercy, is a one-year internship program for North Kansas City School District students who have developmental disabilities and are in their last year of high school. It is targeted for students whose postsecondary goal is competitive employment and who would benefit from additional workplace training and support. Upon completion of the program, the goal is 100% successful employment for the student-interns.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, only 29% of working-aged individuals with disabilities are employed, compared to 70% of working-aged individuals without disabilities: https://www.bls.gov/news.release/pdf/disabl.pdf

Project SEARCH allows students to participate in various internships to explore a variety of career paths. The student-intern learns specific job skills, as well as develops employability skills necessary for success in the workplace. Project SEARCH provides an opportunity for participants to obtain employment through a display of ability by breaking down stereotypes regarding disabilities.

The Distribution department worked with the Project SEARCH job coach and special education teacher to mentor their interns. Through this experience Keith and his team also grew to realize that people with disabilities are capable when given a slower pace to learn new tasks, and when they are trained using their unique learning style. This open-minded approach allowed the student-interns to stretch, grow and reach their full potential. Ava thrived in this accepting environment and kept asking to layer on more skills—so much so, that she was hired by the Distribution department.

The Distribution department could not be more thrilled to have Ava as part of the team.

Distribution Lead Bonnie Rogers said, “Ava always came to work on time with a smile and determination to complete her tasks for the day. Ava took much pride in her daily tasks. When her Project SEARCH time as a student came to an end, Ava was very sad. She said she really liked it in Distribution and said she will be back.”

Ava applied for a position at CM and completed the interview process. Everyone was extremely happy that we were able to offer her full-time employment. The Distribution department is grateful to have had this experience and will be looking forward to future opportunities.

Keith said, “After 25 years in management and now experiencing this with Project SEARCH, I feel I learned just as much from this experience as the students.”

The Distribution department’s and Keith’s openness to embrace diversity and inclusion culminated with Keith being asked to be the guest speaker at this year’s Project SEARCH graduation ceremony, and they were presented with the Department of the Year Award.

“This is a great tribute of the awesome work Distribution has been doing to support these students and a great way to highlight the value of hiring individuals with different abilities,” said Angie Bright, Project RISE manager.


Learn more about Project Rise at Children's Mercy