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The TMI Evolution to Independence Program is Transforming Lives!

Updated: Mar 10, 2022

Loan was born deaf and spent the majority of her life not being able to communicate with those who can hear. In 2015, when Loan was first referred to Toward Maximum Independence (TMI) by the Department of Rehabilitation (DOR), she was extremely shy and unsure of herself. Loan wanted to be able to communicate with the hearing public in order to work with others and obtain work experience. TMI worked with DOR to utilize our deaf and hard of hearing programs to assist Loan. It wasn’t long before Loan applied for a job and was offered a full-time position. Fear held her back.

ETI Division Manager Mary Carrington, Loan and Lemon Grove Assistant Library Manager Lorena Marquez

(ETI Division Manager Mary Carrington, Loan and Lemon Grove Assistant Library Manager Lorena Marquez)

“I am not ready to work full-time. I feel I can’t do it!” Loan admitted to Mary Carrington, TMI Division Manager for our deaf and hard of hearing program, Evolution to Independence (ETI). “I am afraid of what might happen with all of those faces looking at me every day.”

Mary believed Loan did have what it would take and took the necessary steps to assist her in order to help her move forward with following her dreams. Mary utilized the TMI Supported Employment Self Concept program combined with the ETI program to help Loan learn English, English grammar and how to communicate with hearing people.

Loan needed time to work through her fears. Once she did, Mary was able to convince her to volunteer at the Lemon Grove Library. The library gave Loan the opportunity to teach the school age children that attend the American Sign Language school attached to the library. Loan became so loved by the children, as well as the staff at the library, that she was offered a paid position as an Intermittent Library Technician I. She has now been with the library for two years. Loan started with 1-2 days per week and then her hours were increased from 3-4 hours to 6-8 per day. She is now learning how to care for customers and attend to the customer service desk.

Mary asked DOR to assist Loan with purchasing a tablet to help her communicate. Loan now uses the speech-to-text app to help her communicate with library customers. Mary introduced Loan to a personal friend of hers, who also uses sign language, and whose birth language is Spanish. Loan is also now learning to sight read Spanish words to better help the Spanish speaking population that frequent the library.

“I tear up when I think of Loan when I first met her and how far she has come,” said Mary. “Much like a diamond in the rough, she is now shining in all of her talent and being a strong role model for children who are deaf.”

Assistant Library Branch Manager Lorena Marquez has expressed to Mary many times, “how much we love Loan here. She gives us a sense of pride.” Lorena asked Mary to attend a library staff meeting to teach a basic workshop on sign language so that the staff could better communicate with Loan. All the staff sign to her now. Whenever Mary visits the library, staff are sure to tell them how much they love Loan.

“I can’t believe it,” said Loan. “This is part of my dream job. I have always wanted to help and teach others. I am now doing just that! I want to go to college and learn English better. I want to be a managing librarian one day.”

With Loan’s new found self-confidence, we are sure she will continue to pursue and fulfill her dreams. She is truly an example of TMI Transforming Lives. Congratulations on your success, Loan!

Mary and Loan at the Lemon Grove Library

Toward Maximum Independence (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. Like all of us, our clients are born with hopes, dreams and the drive to contribute to society. TMI strives to help our clients to realize their hopes and dreams by providing employment, community living and family support programs throughout San Diego, Riverside and Imperial Counties.

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