Three young men with medium skin tone wearing business casual clothing hold up framed documents as they stand next to a young woman with medium skin tone and man with dark skin tone

Left to right: PathPoint Coordinator Alondra Mendoza; Project SEARCH graduates Bryant Valdovinos, Martin Alonso and Eric Barrales; and LAUSD teacher Michael Whitfield

Serving the Community

CHLA Celebrates Project SEARCH Graduates

Project SEARCH interns spent the last year gaining skills to succeed in employment—and in life.

In June, Children’s Hospital Los Angeles leaders joined together with members of the L.A. community to celebrate three highly deserving individuals—Martin Alonso, Eric Barrales and Bryant Valdovinos—for their successful completion of the Project SEARCH internship at CHLA.

Project SEARCH is an international employment preparation program for young adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities. In California, Project SEARCH is overseen by PathPoint, a nonprofit headquartered in Santa Barbara. Locally, PathPoint collaborates with Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD), Frank D. Lanterman Regional Center and South Central Los Angeles Regional Center to support the interns’ training at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles and other organizations in the health care and hospitality industry.

“CHLA’s role as an anchor institution in our community includes supporting Workforce Development initiatives that promote employment and career opportunities for early careerists, and Project SEARCH is a perfect example,” says Natalie Romero, Program Administrator, Community Affairs, at CHLA. These three students were given the opportunity to gain skills in a hospital setting that will aid them in their future career endeavors—and hopefully lead them to calling CHLA a professional home.”

Project SEARCH takes place entirely on-site, giving interns a unique, integrated experience that combines classroom instruction, career exploration and hands-on training. This year’s graduates got a true sense of what it takes to perform three different jobs in the hospital setting while also learning important life skills, such as banking, time management and taking public transportation.

The impact of the Project SEARCH experience is best conveyed in the new graduates’ own words:

"I would like to say thank you to all my mentors and supervisors from different departments at CHLA for supporting me in this journey and also accepting me as a part of their team/family." — Martin Alonso

"Thank you to all of my mentors from my departments at CHLA! You all have taught me so much and have helped me to be prepared to find a good job and be a good worker." — Eric Barrales

"Thank you, CHLA, for everything you have shown me and taught me. My dream job is to work in Food Services in a hospital." — Bryant Valdovinos

Children’s Hospital Los Angeles is proud to partner with Project SEARCH and looks forward to welcoming the fifth internship class in the fall.

Learn more about CHLA’s commitment to community impact.