An unpaid internship at River Falls Area Hospital gave Rachel Estes valuable experience.

After graduating high school, her next phase involves a good paying job, thanks in part to ProAct.

Estes empties dryers and folds towels and sheets at Comfort Suites in Hudson. At the hospital, she cleaned rooms and stocked supplies.

“She understands she needs to work, the importance of work and what it takes to be an employee,” said ProAct job developer Traci Borchardt.

She provided assistance to increase Estes’ stamina and persistence. The recent grad had a good foundation through the Project SEARCH program. It taught basic job skills, how to talk to people, the importance of showing up and doing your best work, Borchardt explained.

The job developer supplemented this with a written list of 21 soft skills people need. Estes catches on quickly and is quite precise. She’s working on her speed. Borchardt showed her a hotel room so she could better understand how items are folded.

“If you show her something once, she’s got it,” said Borchardt. “She’s like, ‘I’m good,’ and it is.”

Estes is at ProAct in Hudson in the morning and comes to the hotel for work at noon.

Hotel General Manager Randy Morrissette said individuals with disabilities help fulfill their needs.

And, the benefits go beyond the physical workload. “They fit in, and they kind of make people have a better day,” he said.
“She knows that what she does here equals that paycheck,” said Estes’ mother, Linda.

[This story first appeared in the ProAct Annual Report, which is sent by mail. To join our mailing list, please email Patty Carlson.]