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Project SEARCH Graduate Shares Musical Gift with Hospital Patients and Visitors

Project SEARCH grad David Buback enjoys playing music for visitors and patients during lunch at the Jackson-Madison County General Hospital.

You may have the opportunity to hear a beautiful, original piano melody by David Buback the next time you visit the Jackson-Madison County General Hospital.

During a recent lunch meeting at the hospital, I heard David playing a lovely tune. David often plays the piano near the escalators in the hospital atrium during his breaks. He likes to provide soothing music for the visitors and patients whenever he has the chance.

“I think it ministers to people,” David said. “Some people come up to me and say, ‘Thank you for playing the piano. It really moved me’.”

Sometimes David plays original songs. Other times, he plays “Amazing Grace” or the National Anthem. David especially likes to play the National Anthem if he sees a military veteran in the hospital. It’s his way of thanking them for their military service. David said that he has been playing the piano for about 5 or 6 years. What’s most impressive is that David plays by ear.

David works as a charge system analyst in surgical support for West Tennessee Healthcare. His duties include stocking and distributing supplies for the surgical support department. David is also a 2019 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.

Before accepting the charge system analyst job in surgical support, David worked at Starbucks in the hospital. He was known for sharing these four encouraging words with all of his customers: “Have an awesome day!’

In addition to lifting other people’s spirits with his music, David said that playing the piano is calming and therapeutic for him. “It just helps my mood and gets me in the right mindset to have an awesome day.”

I hope that everyone has the chance to hear David play the piano the next time they are visiting the hospital. David, thank you so much for sharing your gift of music with us all. (Also, when you have time, listen to this podcast interview where David and his twin brother, Caleb share their experience in the Project SEARCH program. They were interviewed by Naveh Eldar of The Landscape Podcast. The Landscape Podcast is a platform created by Naveh Eldar that spotlights “people, programs and businesses changing the landscape for individuals with any type of disability.”

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