Rosen Shingle Creek Launches Job Training Internship Program for Young Adults with Disabilities
Orlando Hotel is the First Hospitality Site in the Nation to Serve as Host Job Site for Quest, Inc.’s Project SEARCH
ORLANDO (June 15, 2010) – Rosen Shingle Creek recently held an open house to welcome a new work force to its ranks—a group of 12 young adults with developmental disabilities from Orange County Public Schools who competed against a total of 60 applicants to earn a nine-month internship at the AAA Four Diamond hotel. These 12 young people, ranging in age from 18 to 22, have developmental disabilities that statistically make it more difficult for them to find jobs after high school. According to Orange County Public Schools, the unemployment rate for youth with disabilities is typically 75 percent or higher. But thanks to a program called Project SEARCH, made possible by the collaboration of several community partners, the students will have an opportunity to learn both valuable life skills and marketable job skills in the hospitality industry.
Project SEARCH is a national one-year program that helps young adults with developmental disabilities transition from high school to the workforce. The program was brought to Central Florida by Quest, Inc., a locally based organization that helps people with disabilities achieve their dreams of going to school, having a job and living on their own. The Agency for Persons with Disabilities (APD) provided $99,000 to bring the Project SEARCH program to Orlando for the first time. Rosen Hotels & Resorts provided the final portion of the support needed to launch the program by providing its Rosen Shingle Creek hotel as the work site, as well as providing the support of its management staff and associates.
"We appreciate Mr. Rosen and the team at the Rosen Shingle Creek for giving the individuals to be served by Project SEARCH the opportunity to overcome the challenges of disability and to live the American dream,” said Jim DeBeaugrine, director for APD. "They are blazing a trail for themselves and others that will lead to more fulfilling lives as valued, self-sufficient members of their community."
Rosen Shingle Creek is the first Project SEARCH site in the Orlando area and is the nation’s first ever hospitality site to host a Project SEARCH endeavor. It took almost two years for the partners and the funding to come together to bring Project SEARCH to Orlando. Other Project SEARCH sites typically include banks and medical facilities. Quest also received a $243,000 grant from Dr. Phillips Charities to support two additional Project SEARCH sites in Central Florida.
Rosen Hotels & Resorts has supported other Quest programs for many years, said Carlos Jimenez, Director of Employment Services for the non-profit organization. “Rosen Shingle Creek really embraces diversity in their work force and that includes people with disabilities,” he said. “You can see why Project SEARCH is such a great fit for their corporate culture.”
At the recent open house, the students and their parents received a personal welcome from Harris Rosen, President and COO of Rosen Hotels & Resorts, and got to meet their future managers. They also received a “big bag of goodies” from their future employer.
Harris Rosen was eager to embrace the groundbreaking program. “These 12 young people are pioneers, blazing the way for students to come, and we applaud the courage and tenacity it took for them to earn these 12 spots out of the 60 applicants throughout all of Orange County Public Schools,” he said. “We’re proud to be the first hospitality site to conduct a Project SEARCH program and we hope that others in the industry will soon follow suit, so that all of the young adults who are interested in Project SEARCH internships will have the opportunity to learn valuable job skills as well as to get their foot in the door in this competitive job market.”
The student interns will begin at Rosen Shingle Creek when school starts in mid-August and will spend their final year of school on the job. The State of Florida allows students with disabilities to remain in the public school system until age 22 if necessary to complete the requirements for graduation. Orange County Public Schools will provide a teacher onsite at Rosen Shingle Creek to teach morning classes including life skills such as hygiene, how to dress for employment, working with others, and more. Afternoons will be spent in various roles throughout the hotel. Each student will be assigned a job coach provided and paid for by Quest. The job coaches will begin their job training at the hotel this summer in order to be able to effectively assist the student interns in their roles. Throughout the year, the student interns and their job coaches will be rotated to at least eight different areas of the hotel, including banquet set up, golf course, guest relations, housekeeping, spa, front desk, concierge, warehouse and clerical duties in order to learn a variety of different skills. The student interns will not be paid, but will have an opportunity to apply for permanent employment with Rosen Hotels & Resorts at the end of their internship in May 2011.
“People with disabilities suffer an estimated unemployment rate of close to 75 percent, and they tend to get stuck in very menial jobs,” said Jimenez. “This program really tries to diversify the jobs that might be available to people with disabilities and gives them skills in fields that are growing. Orlando hospitality is a very vibrant field. This opens up a whole new realm of possibilities for these students and attacks the nation’s biggest problem—unemployment.”
The Rosen Hotels & Resorts family includes three award-winning convention properties, Rosen Plaza, Rosen Centre and Rosen Shingle Creek, and four leisure properties in the Orlando tourist corridor, including the Quality Inn International, Quality Inn Plaza and Rodeway Inn International and Comfort Inn Lake Buena Vista. For more information, visit www.rosenhotels.com or call 866-33-ROSEN.
Quest helps people with disabilities achieve their dreams of going to school, having a job, living on their own and experiencing summer camp. As Central Florida’s largest provider of these services, Quest makes a difference in the lives of more than 1,000 people each day and has been part of the community for nearly 50 years. For more information, visit www.questinc.org or call (407) 218-4300.