Employment Readiness Students to Graduate

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The students received training and experience at Lutheran Hospital in Fort Wayne. The students received training and experience at Lutheran Hospital in Fort Wayne.

A mentorship program to help people with disabilities gain training and experience to find a job will graduate its first students next month. The Employment Readiness Academy is a collaboration between Easter Seals Arc of Northeast Indiana and Lutheran Hospital in Fort Wayne.

The academy began in November and the first six participants will graduate in late March, with the next group of students beginning in mid-April. The program involves classroom work taught by an Easter Seals Arc instructor and working at Lutheran Hospital in a variety of areas.

"We are seeing more and more clients express a desire to work in the community, and this program helps them build a resume of skills and experience," said Donna Elbrecht, president and CEO of Easter Seals Arc. "But the confidence they gain from contributing to the daily operations of the hospital may be even more important. Everyone at Lutheran, from the top leadership to the staff working alongside our clients, has been tremendously supportive of these individuals."

During the course, the students work in the warehouse, environmental services, nutritional services and the gift shop at Lutheran. They have also passed the Professional Food Handler certification exam after receiving instruction on food safety from Ivy Tech Corporate College.

Lutheran Hospital Chief Operating Officer Scott Weiskittel says the program has helped expand the health system's pool of qualified job applicants. "This has been a great program for Lutheran. Collaborations like this are important for the community because, among other things, they help bring out the best in individuals whose talents are often underutilized."

Easter Seals Arc says it hopes to create additional academies at other businesses in the Fort Wayne Area.

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