Preparing for the workforce with Project SEARCH

PS Graduation 2019

Pictured from left to right: Elaine Willey, Director of Volunteer Services; Tyler Campbell, Project SEARCH graduate; Mark Mancuso, Project SEARCH graduate; Claire Pessini, Project SEARCH graduate; Michele Santangelo, Project SEARCH teacher and job coach; Ed Kelly, President and CEO; Joshua Otlin, Principal at Milford High School.

Project SEARCH is a one year high school transition program that provides job internship experience and education for young adults with disabilities. It is targeted for students in their last year of high school whose main goal is employment. This program immerses young adults between the ages of 18-21 into real-life work scenarios, rotating through three hospital departments for the duration of a full school year.

Project SEARCH is a widely respected model. This program first started in 1996 at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital and since then has grown to more than 500 programs in the United States and eight additional countries. Milford Regional was the first hospital in Massachusetts to welcome this program.

The Project SEARCH partnership between Milford Regional and Milford High School began in 2011. The partnership blossomed with the guidance of job coaches, teachers and Milford Regional employees, helping individuals gain the skills and experience needed for their future success.

PS logoFor the past eight years, Milford Regional has been welcoming these students into our hospital to gain work experience and skills in different departments such as: food and nutrition, stock room, environmental services, pharmacy, and sterilization. Our department managers and employees provide on-the-job training and feedback to help the interns master the skills for each role.

The intern’s daily schedule includes time within their designated department, as well as classroom time. Lessons are based on daily living/employability skills, such as problem solving, team work, decision making, budgeting, check writing, resume building and job searching. Milford Regional’s human resource department also conducts mock job interviews with the interns to help build confidence and develop interview skills.

At the end of their year with Project SEARCH, the interns are equipped with career plans and resumes, as well as workplace etiquette and independent living skills. In addition, the students are assisted with job placement with in the community. Throughout the eight years of this program, Milford Regional has hired six graduates of the Project SEARCH program. Other interns were hired in jobs in the community.


Former Project SEARCH graduate, Cullen O’Hayre, enjoying his time as a current MRMC employee in the stockroom.

“Project SEARCH has been a transition program that has given my son Cullen direction to his future. Everyone he has come in contact with at Milford Regional has been supportive, kind, and professional,” says Kathy O’Hayre, mother of Cullen O’Hayre, a former Project SEARCH graduate. “By participating in Project SEARCH, Cullen has improved his problem solving skills and time management skills, just to name a couple. His independence, confidence, and self-esteem have flourished because of the support of everyone associated with this program. He has a sense of belonging here at Milford Regional. It is a place that recognizes and understands his challenges. It has been a wonderful program for my son.”

Cullen agrees. “Project SEARCH helps you get comfortable by working in different departments. My job coaches at Project SEARCH have taught me that it is OK to ask questions,” says Cullen.

Project SEARCH welcomes individuals from all surroundings towns to apply for this life-changing program. For more information please contact: Elaine Willey, director of volunteer services: 508-422-2263; or Michele Santangelo, Project SEARCH instructor: 508-422-2386

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