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Project SEARCH: Justin’s Reaching New Heights


One of the Project SEARCH Interns got to experience what it’s like to be high in the air, while decorating the Christmas tree at Mercy Health/St. Rita’s Medical Center. Justin Rader has been an intern in the Grounds Department for the past 10 weeks. When his work mentor first asked Justin if he wanted to get in the lift, he quickly said “No!” He was scared.


The next day, I received a text from one of his mentors, telling me to get out front quickly! Justin had put his courage boots on and got in the lift with Devin, his supervisor. As I approached Justin in the lift, I saw him smiling and waving. He shouted “Hi guys” to me, Dana (a teacher visiting from Allen County Board of DD/Marimor School), and Kayla (a Skills Trainer from Marimor Industries) with excitement. We were so happy for him and so proud, especially since he said no to the whole idea the day before.


As we all watched in awe and admiration of Justin, he went higher and higher, until he was at the top of the tree working on the star. He was 36 feet up in the air! He was still smiling and loving every minute of being a part of the team. I think he forgot all about saying no the day before. He seemed to be a pro at it! He was all harnessed in and felt very safe up in the lift, he told us. The four grounds guys (Pete, Chuck, Derrick, and Devin), plus Justin, have been working on the tree for four weeks – and it looks beautiful.


Justin is just one of eight interns learning and growing as a working adult in Project SEARCH at Mercy Health/St. Rita’s Medical Center. Justin is learning the importance of safety, team work, routines, and being independent in his work. He will end his first internship on November 17, and he’ll move into a new internship where he will learn a new set of skills and meet a new team of employees anxiously waiting for him! Way to go Justin!

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