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Project SEARCH helps find donors

Destinee Brown, 20, has found her calling and along the way, gained huge amounts of confidence and independence.

Destinee Brown, 20, has found her calling and along the way, gained huge amounts of confidence and independence.

"I'm a really big people person," Destinee said. "I love people."

Every day, Destinee makes over 100 phone calls for the Blood Donor Center at Children's Hospital Colorado. She reminds people of their upcoming appointments and recruits new donors. She also welcomes up to 400 donors a month at the donor center in Aurora.

Destinee does all of that with a smile yet without her sight or mobility.

Destinee is legally blind and gets around with a motorized wheel chair.

"We knew she would just hit it off with the donors and sure enough, they all know her from the phone calls she makes," Blood Donor Center Manager Jay Connors said.

Connors first met Destinee last year during her internship through Project SEARCH.

Project SEARCH is a school to work transition program for young adults with disabilities.

"These young adults come to us through Jefferson County School District," Project SEARCH'S Claire Charles said. "Their internship is bookended with some classroom time. They work with our special education teachers from Jeffco along with the Easter Seals employment consultant."

The Blood Donor Center at Children's Colorado has hosted Project SEARCH interns in the past decided to go one step further in hiring Destinee.

"We really had to think about it because it was obvious Destinee had a lot to offer," Connors said. "How could we best use her talents? What accommodations could we make? Where could we bring technology in to solve some of the challenges?"

The Blood Donor Center at Children's Colorado made accommodations including bringing in a Braille keyboard and lowering the employee clock to Destinee's level so she can easily punch in and out.

"I just try to show them 'I'm just like you' and want to have the same opportunities you do," Destinee said. "I show them what it's like to be me. I can get around in a sighted world. I just have to figure out how to do it."

Destinee's co-workers say she doesn't miss a beat.

"She has picked up all of our processes and brought some suggestions to our donor center," Connors said. "There's a lot of joy to work out the challenges and see someone live up to their potential."

Connors also says Destinee has brought an extra energy and enthusiasm to the Blood Donor Center team.

"Coming into that wam smile puts you at ease when you're coming in to do something a little nerve wracking like giving blood," Project SEARCH'S Charles said.

Charles describes Destinee as a perfect example of the mission of Project SEARCH.

"There is hope and there is employment," Charles said. "There's a future for people with disabilities and there are people who are willing to invest in them."

Project SEARCH is always looking for host businesses. To learn more about how Project SEARCH works at Children's Hospital Colorado: https://www.childrenscolorado.org/about/careers/project-search/

In the meantime, Destinee wants to pass on this important message: "We need platelets and whole blood and A- blood. We need every kind of blood al the time so please donate."