DAYTON, Ohio (WDTN) — One local program is working to create jobs for individuals with disabilities.

Project Search is a partnership between United Rehabilitation Services and Springfield-Clark Career Technology Center, among other organizations, that provides transition-to-work internships for students with disabilities.

This year at Mercy Health – Springfield Regional Medical Center, seven Project Search interns have been employed and are working in registration, nutrition services and environment services.

“They’re always such a bright light, always smiling and they help so many of our departments throughout the hospital. We’ve hired a lot of those interns once they’ve graduated,” said Brooke Martinez, director of Volunteer and Auxiliary Services at Mercy Health.

Martinez said the partnership is a great opportunity for everyone involved.

“It brings great advantages to the interns but also to the company,” said Martinez. “We have a lot of great experience through the years that it helps with patient care, it helps with our staff morale, helps the intern, so I think it’s kind of a win-win collaboration for everyone.”

According to Project Search, approximately 74% of adults with significant disabilities are unemployed. This program is working to change that statistic.

Josh Benetrix, an intern in the histology department, talked about his experience so far, “I get to go up to procedures as well. I get to see lung biopsies and I get to watch the doctors do what they do best.”

Benetrix said, “It’s trained me to where I want to be. It’s like we’re setting goals every single month to see if we’re getting better at them.”

A graduate of the Project Search program, Kristen Couch Fager, said the internship helped her not just as an employee, but also as a person.

“I used to be this very shy person when I came in. Wouldn’t talk to anyone, no eye contact or anything but then after that experience, it just changed my life.”

For more information about Project Search, click here.