Project SEARCH Grad Talks About His Drive to Succeed

In the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, Malik Weddle has not missed a day of work as a laundry tech at Jackson-Madison County General Hospital since he transferred to the department last November. Malik is responsible for delivering clean laundry to patient rooms. He is serious about his work and accomplishing his goals.

“I just go in and do the job,” Malik said. His motto when it comes to working is: “Do your work, do your job, and go home. That’s all.” Malik is off every other weekend. Even on the weekends that he is not working at the hospital, he offers to help set up for banquets at the DoubleTree Hotel. Malik is a 2020 Project SEARCH graduate.

Project SEARCH is a year-long transition-to-work program for individuals with developmental and intellectual disabilities. Project SEARCH was co-founded by Erin Riehle and Susie Rutkowski at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital in 1996. Since then, the competitive internship program has grown from one site in Cincinnati to more than 600 sites around the world.

In Jackson, the program is a collaboration between Vocational Rehabilitation, The STAR Center, the Jackson-Madison County School System, and West Tennessee Healthcare. West Tennessee Healthcare- Jackson-Madison County General Hospital is the Project SEARCH intern host site.

Malik credits the Project SEARCH program with helping him secure a job and reach his goals. And driving a new car was one of his goals. He accomplished that goal this week when his parents took him to Memphis to buy a 2021 Toyota Corolla CH-R. “It’s an early birthday gift,” said Malik, who will turn 21 on October 3rd. When Malik was in the Project SEARCH program, he also received driver’s permit training from STAR Center staff. Shortly after completing the training, Malik passed his driver’s license test and started driving himself to work. Whatever his goals are, he said that his parents have always encouraged him to “go for it.”

Matthew and Mollie Weddle are very proud of their son. Mollie Weddle took to Facebook yesterday and posted a picture of Malik with his new car on her Facebook page and wrote: ”So proud of you son. Keep going forward.” And that is exactly what Malik plans to do. His next future goal is to save up to buy his own house. There is no doubt that he will achieve that goal, too. Malik said that he is always reminded of what his Project SEARCH Job Coach Michelle Livingston told him to keep him on track: “Get ‘er done.”

About the Author : Wendy Mercer

NOTE: This person is a past employee or intern of the STAR Center. Their name and authorship is preserved for posterity. Wendy Mercer joined the STAR Center team in 2017. She is a job placement specialist and coordinator of the STAR Center Business Advisory Group. Wendy earned her master's degree in teaching from the University of Memphis. She received her bachelor's degree in print journalism from Clark Atlanta University. Wendy is a former special education teacher and freelance writer. Wendy is active with several community organizations. She currently serves as vice president of the Jackson Old Hickory Rotary Club.

1 Comment
  1. Michelle Livingston September 3, 2021 at 6:52 pm - Reply

    I’m very PROUD of Malik. I was one of his Job coaches and we used to give him feedback on how to complete his task more efficiently and there were days when he didn’t think our helpful criticism was so helpful but after I gave him my input I would always tell him to “GIT ER DONE!” which was my catch phrase but I see he took it to heart! I’m so happy for him because he took advantage of his opportunities and yes Malik, “YOU GOT ER DONE!” Happy 21st Birthday and if you Believe it, you can Achieve it!

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