The last thing Danny White considered when he was thinking about employment is the food and beverage industry. After all, the 2015 Project SEARCH graduate loves sports and being outdoors. He enjoys landscaping and often helps his neighbors by raking their yards.
But landscaping is seasonal, and White needed work that would be available all year. So when Tino’s Italian Bistro Owner Lance Cook mentioned that he needed a dishwasher/bus person, Project SEARCH Manager Barbara Moyer immediately thought of him.
Project SEARCH is a community partnership of Howard County Government, The Arc of Howard County, the Howard County Autism Society, the Howard County Public School System and the Maryland State Department of Education Division of Rehabilitation Services. The program prepares high school seniors with intellectual and developmental disabilities for paid employment.
During their year with Project SEARCH, students participate in three internships that help them develop marketable work skills and explore a variety of career paths. They also work with a team that includes their family, a special education teacher and The Arc of Howard County to create individual employment goals.
White began work at Tino’s in June, and Owner Lance Cook couldn’t be happier.
“He’s a good employee,” said Cook. He has his routine first thing in the morning and just does it. It’s so nice to know those things are taken care of on Mondays and Fridays, the days he works.”
A long-time friend to The Arc of Howard County, Cook believes part of his mission as a business owner is to give back to the community. In June, Tino’s won a Hire Power Award from the Howard County Board to Promote Self-Sufficiency.
To Cook, giving back means helping where he can. Mondays, Tuesdays and sometimes Wednesdays are Foundation Nights at Tino’s, where the restaurant donates 10% of the day’s sales to a local nonprofit. Last year, the Foundation Nights raised nearly $50,000 for groups from Scout troops and PTAs to animal rescue organizations.
Tino’s also has donated to Bridges to Housing Stability, Grassroots, Zaching Against Cancer and other organizations, including The Arc of Howard County. Cook often invites individuals from The Arc to lunch and talks to them about employment opportunities.
It was at one of those lunches that Cook told Moyer he needed a dishwasher/bus person. After an interview, Danny began work on June 20.
“Danny enjoys the job, and Lance is happy with his work,” Moyer added. “It’s a good fit. It’s a wonderful feeling to know you can change someone’s life.”
In addition to Tino’s, Mobern Lighting, Turf Valley Resort, Little Lighthouse Childcare, Long Gate Safeway, The Roger Carter Center, The Colosseum Gym, Patapsco Builders, Green Valley Marketplace, Impact Marketing, Win Kelly of Clarksville, DXL in Dobbin, Harris Teeter (in Fulton), Mom’s Organic Market, Shady Spring Pet Retreat, Ellicott City Giant, Jiffy Lube of Clarksville and Zips of Scaggsville have hired Project SEARCH graduates.
For more information about Project SEARCH and other employment services at The Arc, contact The Arc’s director of employment, Tami Shaw, at firstname.lastname@example.org or 410-730-0638, ext. 247.