News and Events

Catalina’s Story: A Hope Services and Project SEARCH Success

Catalina and Chris Wright, Job Developer at Hope Services

Catalina was born with congenital heart disease. Open heart surgery at Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital at Stanford saved her life, but at a cost: a hypoxic brain injury left her with cerebral palsy. She became a client of Hope Services in 2015. For a year she received personalized support in Project SEARCH, one of Hope’s training and employment programs.

Project SEARCH is a business-led, workplace immersion internship program that takes place at the host business site. Currently Hope has three program partners: Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital and Stanford Medical Center, Kaiser Permanente San Jose Medical Center, and Salinas Valley Memorial Healthcare System. Program participants explore possible careers and learn basic workplace skills such as teamwork, communication, self-confidence, and self-advocacy. The goal is integrated employment for graduates, individually or as a group. 

Catalina achieved that goal, and got a job at Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital. There she handled a variety of duties and did well. For Food Services she baked cookies, restocked drinks, cleaned tables, and refilled water containers. For Housekeeping she did data entry, made deliveries, and labeled patient folders. For Hospitality she welcomed people, gave directions, and passed out stickers to kids.

Catalina
Catalina

“I loved working in the Stanford Hospitality Department and meeting heart patients like myself by sharing my own story. I met a family that had a baby who was about to have heart surgery and it so happens that we both have coarctation of the aorta.”

In 2016, with the help of Eurest and Cushman & Wakefield, Catalina became one of our first Project SEARCH job placements on the Google Mountain View campus. She now rides a Google shuttle to her job as a Customer Service Representative, helping to maintain 200 conference rooms. She prints and posts signage, cleans, restocks supplies, notes any needed repairs, and gathers computer chargers left behind by absent-minded Googlers. For lunch she meets friends at one of Google’s cafes, and also works out in the campus gym. 

She’s happy with her Google job and proud of it, but she wanted more. On her own, she got a second job for Saturdays, as a Food Service Assistant at the Los Altos Courtyard Marriott Hotel. In her free time she enjoys hikes, swimming, movies, music, hanging out with friends, and Skyping with relatives and friends in Spain. She also attends a dance class on weekends. She currently lives with her mom and stepdad, but would like to move into an apartment with friends, closer to downtown. 

Are you a business who would like to hire people like Catalina or become a Project SEARCH partner? Please contact Suanne Rinta at srinta@hopeservices.org or 650-861-3029.

You Can Help Improve Lives

Make an impact on the lives of people with disabilities
and help build a strong community for people who live in your area.