Soft-spoken and shy. Those were the two words most often used to describe Ethan – that is, until he was given the opportunity to work.
In January of 2018, Ethan was selected to be a part of Goodwill of Orange County’s Project SEARCH program, a one-year training and education program in partnership with UCI Medical Center for adults with autism that immerses them in the workplace. Ethan was placed into an internship program that gave him real-life job experience in several departments, including Acute Rehab, the cafeteria, and facilities and maintenance.
Over the course of the program, Project SEARCH staff and department mentors encouraged Ethan, taught him a variety of new skills and prepared him for competitive employment. Beyond these meaningful career-building skills, Project SEARCH has given Ethan even greater gifts: confidence and self-esteem.
Ethan is now able to express his opinions more effectively and communicate easily with peers and supervisors. Both Ethan and his family have expressed the positive impact the internship has made on Ethan – while social interactions used to give him significant anxiety, Ethan now welcomes the opportunity to engage with others.
The internship program proved valuable for Ethan’s professional life as well. After graduation, he was offered a full-time position at Bracken’s Kitchen in Irvine, an organization dedicated to providing quality food to individuals in Orange County facing poverty. As part of the Bracken’s Kitchen team, he is thriving and continues to come out of his shell.
For Ethan, the power of work truly changed his life.