Newton Medical Center’s Project SEARCH site is celebrating the receipt of an award demonstrating how much the program has accomplished since it started.

The program now ranks as one of the top 15 sites out of more than 200 sites internationally at an international Project SEARCH conference. In order to be in the top 15, sites had to achieve a 100 percent job placement rate for their interns, which NMC Project SEARCH has accomplished.

“This award is a true reflection of how great the staff is at NMC and is really the staff’s award,” said Jeremy Gooch, NMC Project SEARCH instructor, pictured with Karla Stauffer, director of patient services for NMC. “The willingness to work with the interns and build their skills in order to gain employment is the secret to this site’s success. As we start our rotations soon, keep this award in your mind that you are making a difference and will continue to make a difference. Thank you for your guidance in these interns’ lives!”

The Project SEARCH program provides internship opportunities and job skills training for students with disabilities. Since the program began, the interns have had the opportunity to work in a variety of departments at the hospital, including patient finance; materials management; dietary (kitchen/cafeteria); information services (technology department); health information management; and environmental services (housekeeping).

Gooch also wanted to thank Debra Reinhardt and Pat Howard for their help with the program.

"These two people are the humble type that really need the recognition for their hard work," he said. "These two people are what make me want to stay being a teacher. Their guidance and support is really the backbone to programs like ours."

Reinhardt is the transition coordinator for the high school, and Howard is a retired teacher of 33 years that is now job coaching at Project SEARCH.

"Both of these woman have made countless differences in many lives," he said.

Find the Project SEARCH program on Facebook at