Mario Scimeca has a disability that presents challenges for him to learn and retain information. Mario cannot drive and relies on his parents and public transportation. Mario struggles with communicating his needs at times and becomes easily overwhelmed and sometimes reacts using inappropriate coping techniques. Despite these barriers, Mario was able to accomplish his employment goal through his participation in the Project SEARCH program administered in partnership with Parents Alliance Employment Project (PAEP) at Northwestern Medicine Delnor Hospital and funded through the LWIA 5’s Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA).
Mario entered the program in September 2019 with minimal job experience, stocking at Walgreens for 6 hours a week. The Project SEARCH program offered Mario the opportunity to participate in an intensive, year-long program where he was placed into three (3), 10 week long internships at the hospital to build his stamina, manage his coping mechanisms, and gain valuable transferable work skills. Mario completed his first internship in the Dock department, where he learned to unload shipments off of trucks, organize shipments onto corresponding carts, and deliver shipments to their designated locations around the hospital. For his second internship rotation, Mario was able to showcase his skills as he worked in the hospital kitchen. The hospital staff took notice of his hard work and determination and recommended Mario for the open Porter position at Northwestern Medicine Delnor Hospital, which he was hired for.
PAEP staff Hailey Mankivsky and Taylor Selesky worked diligently with Mario throughout the program to assist him with addressing and overcoming his barriers with practice, repetition, advocacy, and encouragement along the way. As a result, Mario grew tremendously over the 9 months that he was involved in the Project SEARCH program. Mario learned to increase his stamina, to be open to constructive criticism, and to use healthier coping mechanisms when experiencing turbulence on the job. His experience and participation in the Project SEARCH program shaped and molded Mario into the hard working and determined worker that he is today. When Mario reflects on what the program entailed, he states quite simply, “I’m so happy Project SEARCH staff helped me find a job.”
In spite of obstacles set before him, Mario has been able to thrive and step up to challenges he has faced within his 22 years of life. His success would not have been possible without the Project SEARCH program, through WIOA, providing funding for Mario to receive the necessary staff support for training, as well as transportation expenses to get him to and from the hospital, with continued support of PAEP staff so that he can maintain his part time job at the hospital.
Mario graduated from the Project SEARCH program in May 2020. As a result, he can be found in the cafeteria at Delnor Hospital, happily stocking the beverage cooler, rolling silverware, running food carts to patient floors, and ensuring that high touch areas in the cafeteria are thoroughly sanitized. Nowadays, Mario actively listens to instructions from his managers and seeks support from Project SEARCH staff when necessary. Every chance he can get, he states how incredibly thankful he is to have met the Project SEARCH staff and for their assistance to becoming the hard worker that he is today.