Tabor College Project SEARCH interns double in year two

Current intern Ryan Ronsse (left) and Ryan Hutton, an intern a year ago, carry the Tabor College Project SEARCH banner through the Old Settlers Day parade in Marion earlier this month. Walking behind the banner is skills trainer Tim Giles. Courtesy PhotoComing off a successful inaugural year in 2017-18, Tabor College Project SEARCH has doubled in size as it begins its second year with interns.

Locally, Project SEARCH is a collaborative partnership between the college and the Marion County Special Education Cooperative, with Tabor designated as the official site of the program. Robert Haude, program director, said the program serves all of Marion County by connecting young adults with disabilities to a work experience while receiving job skills training.

“Last year, all three of our interns successfully completed the program and graduated in May,” Haude said. “Additionally, each of the three interns secured employment before their graduation.”

One graduate works in a secretarial role at a local church, another is a dietary aide at St. Luke’s Hospital in Marion and the third graduate is employed in facilities operations at Tabor.

The local program is guided and supported by a steering committee comprised of Tabor College and MCSEC personnel as well as parents and volunteers.

“The steering committee has seen this thing grow and mature into an established program going into our second year,” Haude said. “Three years ago, this program was chosen as the program our county would use to provide services for people who needed extra support in pursuing employment.”

This fall, six interns are participating the program – five from Marion County and one from McPherson.

“We’re really excited about doubling the numbers,” Haude said. “That’s a big deal from one year to the next. It took a lot of hard work, but I think the steering committee wanted to do that.”

During a recent Senior Visit Day, an additional five high school seniors expressed strong interest in the Project SEARCH program; four of them participated in the event.

Haude said with growing interest at the high school level, Project SEARCH is looking to expand its outreach.

“We have decided to have a program that serves people who have accepted their diploma but are out of high school, up to age 30,” he said.

Meanwhile, Project SEARCH keeps in touch with the interns who have come through the program.

“They all have a job developer who follows them as long as they need, to maintain success in their new job,” Haude said. “They’ve all learned a lot of great skills in Project SEARCH, but oftentimes it’s hard to transfer the skills to a new environment. So the job developer helps them within their new environment and get them established.

“Deb Reinhart is providing some strong leadership for that,” Haude said. “She follows them as long as they need her to. Eventually, she won’t need to follow them. They’ll be independent.”

Haude said Project SEARCH has opened money market accounts at Central National Banks in Marion and Hillsboro, where people can donate toward the operational costs that keep the program running for the future.

Haude credits Project SEARCH’s connection with Tabor College as a key to the program’s success.

“The leadership at Tabor has just been amazing to work with,” he said. “They’ve accepted this program as one of their own. Tabor is a community that is welcoming, that sees people first and provides a nurturing environment for people to grow.”

For more information about Tabor College Project SEARCH, call Robert Haude at 620-947-3121, ext. 1325; or email him at

October is ‘National Disability Employment Awareness Month’
Tabor College Project SEARCH supports National Disability Employment Awareness Month, an awareness campaign that takes place each October. The purpose of the campaign is to educate others about disability employment issues and celebrate the many and varied contributions of America’s workers with disabilities.

This year’s theme is “America’s Workforce: Empowering All.”

The history of NDEAM began in 1945, when Congress enacted a law declaring the first week in October each year “National Employ the Physically Handicapped Week.” In 1962, the word “physically” was removed to acknowledge the employment needs and contributions of individuals with all types of disabilities. In 1988, Congress expanded the week to a month and changed the name to National Disability Employment Awareness Month.

“Americans of all abilities must have access to good, safe jobs,” said U.S. Secretary of Labor Alexander Acosta. “Smart employers know that including different perspectives in problem-solving situations leads to better solutions. Hiring employees with diverse abilities strengthens their business, increases competition and drives innovation.”

“Tabor College Project SEARCH is proud to be a part of National Disability Employment Awareness Month,” said director Robert Haude. “We want to spread the important message that we value all perspectives, including those of individuals with disabilities.”

To learn more about participating in National Disability Employment Awareness visit

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