From a very early age, Mason always expressed that he wanted to be a chef. As he completed his high school education, Mason’s family searched for an opportunity that not only offered job-skills training in his areas of interest but would also give him exposure to other career options. That’s when they discovered Project SEARCH. 

Project SEARCH is an internship program that provides integrated training and education opportunities that lead to competitive employment in the community for people with disabilities. Goodwill NCW currently partners with three Project SEARCH sites in north central Wisconsin: ThedaCare Regional Medical Center in Appleton, Ascension Mercy Hospital in Oshkosh and Aspirus Rhinelander Hospital. 

“We thought it was going to be a really good experience for him to participate in a program that allowed him to be in different work settings to find other possible career paths,” Mason’s mother, Natalie said. 

Through Project SEARCH, Mason participated in three 10-week internships at ThedaCare and after gaining a variety of work experiences, confirmed his love for food services. When he graduated from Project SEARCH, Mason was hired in dining services. 

“I love the kitchen, I love making food,” Mason said. “Project SEARCH is awesome, I learned how to be positive, and a good worker. It’s a really nice team. I like being a part of Theda Care, I do.”   

Mason’s mother is impressed with his progress. “He became more independent,” said Natalie. “I don’t do anything at all for him anymore, and I think the whole program helped with that.” 

Mason’s Goodwill story - Mason

Project SEARCH is an international program with a local presence in Appleton, thanks to a partnership with ThedaCare Regional Medical Center – Appleton, Goodwill NCW, CESA 6, Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development – Division of Vocational Rehabilitation, Lakeland Care and TMG Wisconsin. 

“Project SEARCH wouldn’t be able to exist without collaboration,” Kayla Countney Director of Programs and Partnership for Goodwill NCW said. “We are so grateful to our partners for the impact we make together on the lives of those who participate. The program helps people build skills that lead to sustained employment and improved financial stability. It transforms lives.” 


Find your next career! Job Coaches work alongside individuals like Mason to help them reach their goals and pursue their dreams. Would you like to make a difference in others’ lives as a Job Coach? Goodwill NCW is hiring. Explore our open positions today: