An Opportunity for Independence Goes a Long Way For Andrea

Updated: May 15, 2019


(Andrea Receiving her 15 Year Award)

Toward Maximum Independence (TMI) Integrated Work client, Andrea, recently celebrated 15 years of employment with Walmart. Andrea began her position at Walmart with her Job Coach, Laura Harden, who continues to work with her until this day. For fifteen years Andrea was responsible for dusting all of the merchandise and shelves, as well as helping with go backs. This is no small feat considering Andrea works at a Walmart superstore! After 15 years, the dust started to irritate Andrea’s eyes since she wears glasses. She recently transitioned to cleaning all of the glass in the store. After so many years, it was an adjustment for Andrea, but with Laura’s support and the support of TMI Division Manager Anas Al Obaidi, Andrea is happy with her new duties now.

“Let’s put it this way, I know the store inside out,” Andrea said smiling. “My favorite part of the day though is helping customers.”

Andrea is so dedicated to Walmart that in 2013 when she received the call from her family that her dad had passed away, she finished out her shift despite her sadness. Right after her shift Andrea said to Anas, “I made it, I made it,” before allowing herself to cry.

Since Andrea’s dad passed away, Andrea has been living on her own in El Cajon, CA with Independent Living support. Working at Walmart with assistance from Laura allows Andrea to be financially independent.

(Andrea and Laura, A Great Team!)

“TMI gave me the opportunity to be independent and live on my own,” said Andrea. “After my dad passed away I had to take care of myself, so having a paid job was very helpful to be independent.”

In addition to working at Walmart, Andrea enjoys playing bingo, bowling and swimming in the summertime. Andrea recently went to Riverside and Anaheim with the Special Olympics bowling team and won several medals!

Laura is happy to be sharing this journey with Andrea. The two started together at Walmart and she plans to stick by Andrea’s side. Laura’s husband, Ron, was a border patrol agent for 27 years and is now retired. Laura could also retire with Ron, but finds working with Andrea very fulfilling.

(Andrea and Laura at Walmart)

“I am here because I really want to be here,” said Laura. “I love working not only at TMI, but being at Walmart to assist Andrea. I refer people to TMI for employment whenever I can.”

(Laura and Andrea at TMI's Annual Holiday Party)

Laura is also the lead singer of the Legends and has been performing for more than 18 years all over San Diego County. She has been dubbed the “Lady of Soul” as her voice and dynamic stage presence is often compared to icons including the amazing Aretha Franklin, Diana Ross and Tina Turner. She comes from a very musical family and entertaining is in her blood.

Andrea and Laura are certainly the dynamic duo! Congratulations on celebrating 15 years and for doing such an outstanding job!


An estimated 1 in 6 people are born with a developmental disability. Just like you they are born with hopes, dreams and the drive to contribute to society. Since 1981 Toward Maximum Independence (TMI) has transformed thousands of lives by providing assistance to children and adults with developmental disabilities, giving them the ability to realize their hopes and dreams.


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TMI HAS BEEN TRANSFORMING THE LIVES OF CHILDREN AND ADULTS WITH INTELLECTUAL AND DEVELOPMENTAL DISABILITIES SINCE 1981 AND THE DEAF AND HARD OF HEARING SINCE 2000. TMI RECEIVES FUNDING FROM DDS. SHOULD YOU WISH TO REPORT ANY CONCERNS, PLEASE CONTACT DDS AT (916) 654-1690 OR VIA THE DDS WEBSITE

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