LA GRANGE — Sam Smetko has a new job, and he loves it.
That’s according to his mother, who said her son has been coming home from work and talking about his co-workers.
“He’s a little more confident,” his mom, Beth, said. “He’s very proud of himself. I think it’s been wonderful.”
Sam, 19, works part-time at Adventist La Grange Memorial Hospital as a dishwasher. He was hired by Adventist through Lyons Township High School’s Vocational Studies program, which is coordinated by the school’s Special Education Department. Sam is the hospital’s first hire through their partnership with LT.
“We’re kind of that stepping stone between the high school and the adult world, with the ultimate goal of having our students find work or placement in the community prior to exiting,” said Cara Brown, LT’s vocational and transitional coordinator.
Adventist has worked with the school’s Vocational Studies program for 15 years, according to Brown. Sam initially started working for the hospital as a student in LT’s Transitional Studies program, offered to students between the ages of 18 and 22. The program is designed to help transition special needs students into the workplace by providing training, experience and more than anything, an opportunity.
The results have been positive for the hospital and for Sam.
“You can see the drive in Sam,” said Deniece Schott, the hospital’s director of food and nutrition. “He wants to do more.”
His mom agrees: Sam has learned new skills and is more driven.
“I think it’s great that there are businesses that work with Lyons Township to allow students to come and train,” Beth Smetko said. “I was surprised and really happy when they asked Sam to apply.”