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Project Search: Mission Health's new job training mission

Ryan Smith said learning his way around the gift shop at Mission Hospital has added up to new possibilities, despite his autism. And it's all thanks to a community program called Project Search. (Photo credit: WLOS Staff)

Mission Health is now working to help people with developmental disabilities to get permanent work.

Ryan Smith said learning his way around the gift shop at Mission Hospital has added up to new possibilities, despite his autism. And it's all thanks to a community program called Project Search.

"Project Search is an internship for young adults with developmental disabilities, ages 18 to 30," Tommasanne Davis, the director of talent acquisition for Mission, explained.

"My communications skills have gotten better, and that's what I really had to work on," Smith said.

"He's learned to talk to people to just go up and say, 'Hi!' That's a big thing for him," Smith's mentor Lindsay Caison added.

The gift shop is the first of three work sites in the hospital for Smith between now and the end of the academic year.

"Project Search is a very good place to grow, a place to find yourself and what you want to do," Smith said.

At the end of the internship, the goal for Ryan and other participants in the program is simple -- permanent employment.

That equals added self-esteem, purpose, and independence.

People in Buncombe County who are interested in learning more about Project Search can attend a meeting at 6 p.m Wednesday, Jan. 10, at One Hospital Drive in Asheville (on the fifth floor).

Jan. 31 is the deadline to apply an internship for the next academic year.

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