Project SEARCH Success Stories


Everyone who meets Sallie Hall falls in love with her. When she laughs, the whole room lights up. She is truly a pleasure to be around. She has several passions, including cooking, retail therapy, family time, learning and arts and crafts.

Sallie entered Project SEARCH of Calhoun County in August 2022 as one of the program’s first deaf students ever enrolled. Because of her communication obstacles, she is unique. Sallie does not communicate with American Sign Language fluently. Due to numerous unsuccessful medical procedures and well-intentioned doctors who told Sallie’s parents she would speak; Sallie was not taught American Sign Language.

Sallie, 13, was completely deaf. As Sallie was getting ready to exit her high school to transition to Project SEARCH of Calhoun County, she was faced with yet another obstacle. Sallie was diagnosed with diabetes. As difficult as this diagnosis was, Sallie’s family supported her and helped her embrace a new lifestyle complete with a strict meal plan and blood glucose checks.

Sallie began the 2022-2023 year by making connections with other interns, skill trainers, and the instructor. As interns and staff began to use ASL apps, pictures, body language, and support from the deaf side of Alabama Department of Rehab Services, communication became easier than we could have imagined. We had two interpreters initially, but after recommendations were made, Sallie had a deaf mentor to help her at the start of her first internship rotation.

Sallie and her friends even joke around with one another and share private inside jokes. Sallie’s initial rotation was in housekeeping. She learns best by modeling. Sallie’s mentor models cleaning activities for her, and she can now clean bathrooms on her own. Sallie is hardworking and enjoys spending time with her friends. She can navigate the hospital with the assistance of her friends and mentor.

Sallie oversees pushing all of the buttons on the elevator. Sallie’s next rotation will more than likely be in the kitchen. We enjoy watching her develop and learn life skills. Sallie’s family is encouraging and understands that being around people and having a purpose in life makes Sallie happy. Sallie is a true inspiration, and we are honored to have her as a part of Project SEARCH of Calhoun County.


CJ, another success story within Project SEARCH, is currently employed by the host site, Riverview, as a steward. He is working 40 hours per week and is making a great hourly wage. His area of disability is autism. He is a remarkable young man who has come a very long way. From not speaking, nor being potty trained at elementary age, to blossoming into a pleasant, well-mannered individual through the years.

CJ has a desire to succeed and try his best at everything he does. He is very conscientious and likes to do a good job. CJ has had many successes through the PS program, including how to learn to ride the MAPS transportation bus last year. This is a bus associated with the public transportation (WAVE) in Mobile, AL, but it provides door to door services if an individual qualifies. Not only did CJ learn to ride the MAPS bus independently from home to work, but he also learned to ride it to events in the community such as drama club and dance without limits. He is an inspiration to all that have the pleasure to meet him.

This year, he has already spoke to interns to share information with them about procedures at the hotel. He has demonstrated to the entire class how to break down boxes for the recycling machine, etc. He is also currently serving as a mentor to an intern in the steward department, and hopefully this young man will be hired on also. Our hope is that an intern will be hired on in all departments and eventually they will be training PS future interns.

CJ, a previous intern with Project SEARCH program at Riverview Hotel, is currently training a current intern in steward department.  CJ was hired in the steward department last year and is an excellent trainer for not only PS students, but other new employees as well.


The staff of Project SEARCH Birmingham would like to recognize the excellent performance and accomplishments of Joshua Jackson. The hard work and commitment that Joshua has exhibited thus far have been outstanding.

Joshua completed Project SEARCH Birmingham in May of 2022. He is currently employed as a full-time Environmental Services Supply Room Specialist. Joshua’s responsibilities include the following: Ensuring supplies are accounted for, storing all received materials, delivering supplies to supply closets, ensuring availability to staff as needed, distributing appropriate items to staff and signing and maintaining packing slips.

Since enrolling in Project SEARCH, Joshua has made significant progress. Initially, Joshua displayed ongoing negative behaviors that required lots of staff support and redirection. He was not interested in attending the program nor participating in classroom activities. Joshua would become easily agitated, verbally confrontational with staff and his peers, use profane language to express his dissatisfaction, and exhibit poor etiquette skills. He struggled with staying awake through much of the day. He resisted working with others and did not respond well to constructive criticism. However, Joshua has turned over a new leaf by receiving a great deal of support from the PS and UAB staff, his family, along with guidance from his VR counselor. He has developed into a young man who is motivated to work, recognizes his shortcomings, and strives to improve in his areas of weakness. Joshua rarely misses a workday and displays excellent teamwork and leadership skills. He brings enormous energy to UAB Environmental Services and keeps the atmosphere positive.

Joshua is currently awaiting approval of his mental health application so that he may be able to receive an array of home and community-based services that will enable him to live and work safely in his community. Joshua has made remarkable progress and is on his way to success. Project SEARCH Birmingham is extremely proud of Joshua’s achievements.


Kayla was an intern in our Project SEARCH program during the 2015-2016 school year. She attended school at DAR High school in the Marshall County School District. She let us know, from the beginning of the program, that she was very interested in helping others in the healthcare field.

Kayla had many challenges throughout her year in the program. She didn’t always have a dependable vehicle and sometimes her living situation was not always the best, but she always had a wonderful attitude and tried her best at everything she did. She did well in her first rotation working at Therapy Plus and started a second rotation in Environmental Services. After that rotation, she applied and was accepted into the CNA program at a local nursing home. With the help of Kira Galarza, her Skills Trainer, and her determination, she passed her test and became a registered CNA.

It was here she met the man who would become her husband in the spring of 2017. In 2020, they bought a house and welcomed their first baby boy and in 2021 they added a second baby boy. In July 2022, she was hired at Marshall Medical Centers North in the Environmental Services Department working full time. She also helps her husband run a lawn care service on the weekends. We are so proud of Kayla and all she has accomplished!