Dawood Carolo
​​​Project SEARCH Toronto student Shaad Dawood, (L), and Manny Carolo on the job at Toronto Rehab, Lyndhurst Centre, in the fall of 2023. Shaad is now on a placement with UHN Transportation as a porter at Toronto General Hospital. (Photo: UHN)

Manuel Carolo, affectionately known as Manny, has been working as a storesperson in the Materials Management Department at Toronto Rehab, Lyndhurst Centre for 24 years.

As a senior employee, Manny has trained countless new and casual staff as UHN storespeople. When asked to step up and expand his role by acting as a mentor to Project SEARCH Toronto trainee students, he jumped at the chance.

"I am so grateful to be able to do more," Manny says with enthusiasm.

Project SEARCH Toronto is a transition to employment program for youth with intellectual and developmental disabilities. UHN has an onsite classroom where 10 students, their Toronto District School Board teacher and education assistant, and two Community Living Toronto job coaches meet daily.

The students, who are all over 18 and in their final year of high school, complete three 10-week job placements at multiple UHN sites and/or Holland Bloorview Kids Rehabilitation Hospital over the course of the school year.

The goal of the program is for every student to gain skills that help them compete in the job market upon graduation.

Project SEARCH Toronto is in its fifth year of operation. To date, 84 per cent of program graduates have found employment. UHN has hired seven graduates in the areas of nutrition services, environmental/linen services, materials management, clerical and portering.

'Communication is the most important skill for working on a team'

Since its inception in 2019, Manny as trained more than 10 Project SEARCH Toronto students in the hard and soft skills required to be competitively employed in the materials management sector. Those skills include: first in-first out principals, stocking, taking inventory at nursing stations, making deliveries, phone skills and taking messages, receiving supplies, tracking purchase order numbers, printing and filing invoices, and maintaining accuracy. 

As a Project SEARCH Toronto mentor, Manny creates a warm welcoming environment for students where they feel comfortable asking questions. He enjoys working with students who are interested and willing to learn, work hard and take initiative.

And, Manny says he puts a big focus on helping students develop communication skills because, "communication is the most important skill for working on a team."

Students appreciate working with Manny because he is understanding and patient. Job coaches love how Manny is not afraid to share his honest feedback even when there is a problem or a student needs correction.

"Manny's constructive feedback has been so valuable, this shows he really cares," says job coach Mirea Lee.

Manny is very generous too. He always gives students a little treat at the end of placement for their hard work – pizza and donuts.

"Without employees like Manny, we just simply would not be able to run this program," says Amy Spear, UHN Project SEARCH Toronto business liaison. "Manny is an absolute superstar because he is so passionate about teaching, and he has such high expectations for student performance!

"Thank you, Manny, for doing more. You truly make UHN an amazing place to learn and work."

To learn more about this UHN employment training program or to get your department involved, please contact amy.spear@uhn.ca  Read more about Project SEARCH

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