Friday, January 21, 2022

Project Search Comes to Collier County

By Jodi Pree

Project Search, which began in 1996 and currently boasts over 500 cities, is a supported internship program designed to prepare young adults with special abilities to enter the workforce. Collier County Public Schools (CCPS) and Naples Community Hospital (NCH) have partnered to provide the very first Project Search program in Collier County. Since August, the first group of interns have been working in various departments of the Baker Downtown Hospital gaining hands-on experience and a variety of job skills.

“Our Project Search interns represent various schools throughout Collier County. They have met their graduation requirements but have chosen to defer receiving their diplomas to participate in this program. Throughout the year, the interns rotate through three internships in various departments. Each intern will leave the NCH Project Search with three different sets of job skills from three different departments. The goal of Project Search is to get a job after the internship, either at NCH using the skills they have learned or somewhere else in the community,” explains CCPS Special Education Teacher Nicole Cholka.

The program, led by two CCPS special education teachers and NCH mentors and department supervisors, currently has six interns with the potential of serving 10-12 interns in the future. The interns begin and end their day in the classroom with instruction, life skills learning, and a daily evaluation. Throughout the day, they each work in their assigned departments with varying degrees of supervision. The NCH departments include: Concierge, Central Distribution, Clean Room, Linens, Mail Room, Print Shop, Cafeteria, Housekeeping, and Stock Room. The various assignments and departments are based on the intern’s interest and skill level. Those who excel can continue with clinical internship programs and certification.

“Caleb, for example, wants a career in sports medicine. He has really excelled in his internship with the Central Distribution and the Clean Room departments. This week, he is taking the Basic Life Support course. He will then have the certification to do the clinical internships, such as Patient Transportation and Rehab Assistant,” explained Nicole Cholka.

“It’s a great project. Everyone here (at NCH) feels great about it. The students are blossoming. It’s great to help with their careers. It’s just good for everybody,” remarked NCH President and CEO Allen Weiss.

For more information about Project Search visit

2 responses to “Project Search Comes to Collier County”

  1. What a wonderful program. Caleb is my grandson and I am so glad he’s a part of this. It is such a special opportunity for all the young men and women.

  2. Amy Cox says:

    This is a great opportunity for these kids, it gives them purpose and makes them feel like adults. Just look at those smiles and the sparkle in there eyes!

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