Oklahoma Program Trains Disabled for Work

Thursday, June 25th 2009, 10:40 pm
By: News 9

By Melissa Maynarich, NEWS 9

OKLAHOMA CITY -- A program in Oklahoma is helping disabled Oklahomans enter into the workforce.

Thomas Spears works in Chartwells Cafeteria at a law enforcement training facility in Ada.

"It suits me I guess. There's a lot of meticulous things here like stocking milk and stuff," Thomas Spears said.

But the job responsibilities he has now have not always been part of his life.

"I would sit around my house all day, and I didn't get out much," Spears said.

Without training, Spears' disability kept him from working. But that changed when he was accepted at Project Search. The program at Valley View Hospital offers training for the disabled that can help them find a job.

"Give them the opportunity to be totally immersed into the workplace culture, into the work site. To have the experience of working with a supervisor with co-workers," said Project Search Coordinator Judy Goldston.

In the program, Spears spent time in surgical sterilization. He learned how to complete systematic tasks like filling orders and distributing equipment throughout the hospital.

"He struggled and we assisted him with strategies to help him be successful with transportation and personal conflicts that may arise," Goldston said.

Spears said his desire to succeed got him through the 9 month program and into a permanent employment.

"It helped me to get out there and do stuff. I have a job now. I've got my driver's permit, and I'm looking into getting a place of my own," Spears said.

Organizers for Project Search in Oklahoma hope to soon expand the program beyond Valley View hospital in Ada.